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Snowe to Congress: Pass budget or face backlash

Monday, 11 Nov 2013 | 4:33 PM ET
Democrats take aim at tax breaks
Monday, 11 Nov 2013 | 3:32 PM ET
CNBC's John Harwood reports the sticking points of tax breaks designed for "upper" Americans.

Congress continues to fight over the nation's finances as the December 13 deadline to agree to a compromise budget looms, but former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine warned there will be a big uproar if lawmakers fail to get the job done and on-time.

So far, Democrats have made the first move, suggesting eliminating some tax breaks for the wealthy as a means of raising revenue to replace sequestration cuts. Snowe said there's no reason Republicans couldn't look at closing some tax loopholes, but said the GOP would need to come to the table with their ideas. One way or another, Snowe said both sides need to come together to pass a budget—or else.

"I don't think there's an alternative other than the fact that they have to come out of that meeting with an agreement because I think that frankly, they're going to face a major outcry and backlash from the public, as they should," Snowe said on "Closing Bell."

Olympia Snowe
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Olympia Snowe

To Snowe, the partisan bickering and political gridlock is just "more of the same." Snowe, who served in the Senate from 1995 to 2013, cited a highly divisive climate on Capitol Hill as the very reason she decided not to run for re-election.

She complained that policymakers seem more concerned with strategizing about how to stay in office and advance the party platform rather than jumpstart the sluggish economy.

"Instead of taking concerted action to reverse the subpar growth and the paltry job creation numbers, they have only exacerbated the problems by their failure to address these issues," Snowe complained.

(Read more: How Obamacare disaster will impact budget talks)

Congress' inability to pass a budget has created a "shadow of uncertainty that's casting a pall over this economy" by destroying confidence and preventing employers from hiring, Snowe said.

Snowe said Democrats and Republicans can remove the uncertainty from the economy, though, if they come together to agree to a budget by the December 13 deadline and also include terms that extend the funding of government and raises the debt ceiling through the next fiscal year.

By CNBC's Drew Sandholm. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSandholm.

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