Sept. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Coburn, Van Hollen Wrangle on Budget

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Sen. Tom Coburn is a member of the “gang of six” Senators who are working on bipartisan budget legislation.

Ryan defended his plan on the CBS program by noting that his overhaul of Medicare would not affect anyone age 55 or older and that it is based on the same principles supported by the president’s fiscal commission.

“We’re basically taking a page out of the playbook of the fiscal commission: Broaden the tax base, lower the tax rates for economic growth,” Ryan said. “Keep tax revenues where they are — don’t lower tax revenues — but clean up the tax code so it works.”

Meanwhile, the nation is rapidly moving closer to reaching its debt ceiling, but Coburn said Sunday that he would not support an increase unless it is paired with mandatory spending limits. The Treasury Department estimates that the nation will hit the ceiling by May 16 and that emergency measures can delay a default on debts until early July.

“The debt limit is ridiculous,” he said, noting that it does not cap what the country spends. “I need absolute certainty that we’ve made the critical changes that are necessary to put this country back where it needs to go. Unless we do that, there is no way I support it.”

Ryan added on “Face the Nation”: “We want financial controls, we want cuts in spending to accompany the debt ceiling. ... Nobody wants to play around with the country’s credit rating. Nobody wants to see default happening. But we also think it’s important to get a handle on future borrowing as we deal with raising the debt limit.”

Van Hollen cited the dangers in tying raising the debt ceiling to spending caps.

“We have to make good on the full faith and credit of the United States, otherwise we’ll have an economic catastrophe,” he said. “Linking the two and saying you’re only going to vote for the debt ceiling if something particular happens on deficit reduction is playing Russian roulette with a loaded revolver.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he was confident that lawmakers would not allow the nation to hit the ceiling and default on its debt.

“I want to make perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“They told the president that on Wednesday in the White House,” Geithner added, referring to a meeting between Obama and bipartisan Congressional leaders. “And I sat there with them, and they said, we recognize we have to do this. And we’re not going to play around with it. Because we know — we know that the risk would be catastrophic.”

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