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“We asked a number of questions, we stated some of our ideas back to them and agreed that we would work together and put something on paper, in terms of how we think we should address the issue,” Coats said.
Coats said he was pleased that the White House followed up.
“So it’s a step in the right direction, but no one should classify this as ‘We are going to negotiate this process,’” Coats stressed. “We are still a ways apart on how to get there; on the other hand, we are not as far apart on what goals we want to reach.”
Coats said the idea is to see if a “grand plan” can be had that “puts us on the path to fiscal health over an extended period of time with a combination of pending cuts, revenue, and entitlement reform, along with comprehensive tax reform. They think we’ve gotten pretty far on cuts. We think they’ve gotten pretty far on taxes. The question is how you close” the gap.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he gets a little frustrated when he talks budget with the White House, but he said he was pleased to have the conversation.
“We can’t continue to live the way they are doing it,” Hatch said, who has concerns about the growing cost of entitlements.
Asked if the meeting discouraged him, Hatch said, “I wasn’t discouraged, that’s just typical of meeting with them. I don’t think they have much budgetary sense. That is not a knock at the people, just that the administration does not have budgetary sense.”