Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin isn’t betting on an agreement on the deficit being reached until after the election in November.
When asked about the prospects for a deficit deal on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday the number two Democrat in the Senate said the issue will not be resolved before Election Day.
“Let me be honest with you … in the next 100 days before the election, the political environment is not one for compromise and negotiation,” Mr. Durbin said.
However, Mr. Durbin is hoping that a deal can be reached soon after the election.
“If we are prepared, the day after the election to move forward with a plan that restores confidence in the economy and the ability of congress to react to it, it’s going to be a positive thing for us. I think we can do it,” he said. “With the president’s leadership, we can come together. There’s a bipartisan answer here that’ll reduce the deficit and still create an environment for economic growth.”
The Democrat did not divulge any details about the talks currently underway by a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers hoping to come up with a solution before the Bush-era tax cuts expire and $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts is triggered at the end of the year.
“We believe there is a responsible, reasonable, way to move forward, and we are going to try to put something on the table to be considered,” he said.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats passed a bill to renew the Bush-era tax cuts for households who make less than $250,000. The Republican-controlled House is almost certain to vote down the bill, however.
Mr. Durbin had previously stated to CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien that letting the tax cuts expire for everyone was “a very real possibility, unless there’s an agreement.”
“Well, I certainly don’t want to see any tax increase for working families … and it’s within the power of Congress to avoid that. But if we have to have this day of reckoning, in order to finally break through and have meaningful deficit reduction, that’s still creates a growing economy, then let’s face it,” he said.
In the “State of the Union” interview, Mr. Durbin also defended President Barack Obama’s economic record and warned against what the return of a Republican could do to the White House.
“Returning to the economic policies of the Bush administration, which Mitt Romney endorses, would just plunge us back into a recession situation where we’re giving tax breaks to the wealthiest of America, seeing a deficit out of control and not creating strength in the middle class for working families of America,” he said.