Bennet: Congress Must Keep Working on Debt

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

WASHINGTON (KKCO) -- Though Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is "relieved" that Congress was able to pass a debt deal before the default deadline, he says elected leaders must continue working to reduce our nation's debt.

Bennet, a Democrat, was among the 74 U.S. Senators who voted in favor of the debt plan President Obama signed into law Tuesday.

"It gets us past this debt ceiling which would have created the first default in this country's history and the downgrading of our credit rating," said Bennet. "As a taxpayer, I couldn't imagine that we put ourselves in this position."

He says he was pleased to see the measure passed with bi-partisan support -- but most of the praise for the legislation ended there.

"This is not a bill that I or any one Coloradan would have written," said Bennet. "It's not comprehensive enough. I want to see a plan that's going to reduce our debt by about four trillion dollars over the next ten years. This gets us about halfway there and we're going to have to keep working on it."

The bulk of that work will come from a 12 member bi-partisan committee that will have to identify $1.5 trillion or more in additional cuts by November 23, as required by the deal. The committee will be made up of six members from each chamber with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Congressional leaders have yet to decide who will serve on the committee. Bennet says he has received no indication of when those decisions will be made.

"What I hope is that the people who are appointed to this committee are people that are actually interested in solving the problem," said Bennet. "Too often these things are set up in a way that is meant to fail. I can only hope that's not true in this case and we can have a substantive conversation. If the committee is working in a spirit of goodwill, they're going to help all of us understand the challenges and produce the policy results that are actually worthy of our kids and grandkids."

The committee's recommendations are guaranteed an up-or-down vote by the end of December. If the recommendations do not pass, a series of cuts to defense and non-defense programs will automatically kick in, matching the size of the debt ceiling increase.

"The idea of that mechanism, which is referred to as a sequester, is that it's so unpleasant, it's so unattractive, it would actually force the politicians to come to an agreement that's more rational than that," said Bennet.


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