Sen. Ben Nelson has broken ranks with his fellow Democrats and joined Republicans in calling for spending cuts and no tax increases in any deal to raise the debt ceiling.
Nelson, running for re-election next year in conservative-leaning Nebraska, said in remarks to Cornhusker State reporters released by his office Wednesday afternoon that tax hikes could hamper job creation and that his constituents have expressed a desire that Washington, D.C., politicians focus on reducing government spending. Congressional Democratic leaders, as well as President Barack Obama, have been insisting that any debt deal include an increase in revenues, including eliminating tax breaks for some companies and wealthy individuals. Republicans have flatly rebuffed that position.
The Nebraska Senator also said the bipartisan debt ceiling negotiations have been “unproductive” and childish.
“Unfortunately, the two sides that are trying to negotiate a debt reduction plan are intent on scoring political points, rather than working toward common ground on how to responsibly address debt and deficits,” Nelson said. “As usual in Washington these days, there are too many games being played. They rival what you can buy at Toys R Us. It’s time for Washington to stop the shenanigans.”
Nelson ruled out not only tax hikes, but also deep cuts to Medicare and Social Security that some Republicans have floated.
“On one side, we see a group of lawmakers who seem focused on cuts to Medicare and Social Security in hopes of balancing the budget on the backs of seniors. I don’t support that approach,” Nelson said. “On the other side, we see a group of lawmakers who seem focused on ways to raise revenue, rather than cut spending in Washington. They’re floating plans to raise taxes to balance the budget, without reforming the imbalances in the tax code. Raising taxes at a time when our economy remains fragile takes us in the wrong direction. That won’t create jobs in Nebraska.”
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.