Durbin expressed optimism Tuesday that lawmakers could come to a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
Another “progressive” proposal cited by Durbin was the expansion of an infrastructure bank as part of a deficit reduction deal to spur economic growth and create jobs.
Many of his ideas presented Tuesday were cribbed from the 2010 Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction report, which failed to garner enough bipartisan support for recommendation but has become the foundations for other groups, such as the gang of six and the defunct supercommittee. The report has come back into the political mainstream in recent days, with top Republicans such as Speaker John A. Boehnerendorsing recent ideas from the Democratic principal of the talks, former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles.
Durbin also emphasized that the $1.2 trillion in cuts enacted by the 2011 Budget Control Act, half of which come from defense discretionary spending, is a “good down payment” in the current talks and that further cuts to domestic discretionary spending should not be significant, as many funds for programs assisting the poor already have been shrunk or eliminated by the original deal.
He said if a necessary debt ceiling increase is not part of a fiscal cliff deal, “We’re not going to find ourselves celebrating one big party” once an agreement is reached and said that it should be part of any fiscal bargain.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.