LL: Not all Republicans are in unision when it comes to just paying what we can and ignoring the rest. I have spoken with many who say they are trying to educate the Tea Party members on the danger of a default. Are you worried a deal will not be reached?
Sen. Coons: I am worried, yes. Very. But I know the President, Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi are committed to reaching a deal that will avert the full onset of this crisis. For the last month or so, I and I know many of my Democratic colleagues have been reaching out to business owners and CEOs to urge them to speak up — to reach out to their Republican contacts and urge them to take this seriously.
Many of the Tea Party Republicans elected last fall had never served in government before now and, I think, have failed in their responsibility to place the needs of the country ahead of their own personal priorities. It's reckless. To their credit, more than a dozen Senate Republicans have voiced support for the 'gang of six' proposal, which calls for a more balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction. But House Republicans' dogmatic opposition to making our tax system more equitable is irresponsible.
LL: Why were you against "Cut, Cap, Balance"?
Sen. Coons: 'Cut, Cap and Balance' was a dangerous, ideological plan that would have done more harm to the country than good. Putting mechanisms in place to ensure future savings is not a bad idea, but 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' was a terribly irresponsible way of trying to implement that idea. I'm glad we've moved on from it.
LL: Do you think a balanced budget amendment is needed to help steer Congress back on the fiscal path?
Senator Coons: As county executive, I balanced the budget for six years. A legally required balanced budget isn't in itself a bad idea:
but it's not realistic to think that we could implement it in just a matter of days or weeks. It would take years to bring our budget back into balance.
LL: President Obama said neither party is blameless on this spending crisis. Do you agree?
Senator Coons: The President is right. It took Congresses and Presidents of both parties years to create the situation we're in now, so it's frustrating to see Republicans pretend they have no responsibility for the staggering increase in debt over the last 10 years. Both parties are responsible and both parties must be responsible for getting us out. Both parties must share in the sacrifice.
A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."
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