Saxby Chambliss, Mark Warner bring their ’shared sacrifice’ argument to Atlanta

In a highly appropriate accident of timing, three days after President Barack Obama and Congress muddled through a budget agreement for federal spending that carries us to September, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Mark Warner, D-Va., stopped by AJC headquarters to argue for their 10-year plan to erase the $14 trillion federal debt.

The bipartisan duo speaks to the Atlanta Rotary in a few minuts.

In the AJC session, Warner in particular called last week’s convulsions an “embarrassment” not likely to instill confidence in Congress. Pushing debate over a single year’s budget until close to a midnight deadline is bad enough, he said.

But if the same brinksmanship is used during a summer debate over the bond market – that could “spook” the bond market and set off a worldwide reaction, Warner said.

For the last six months, Chambliss and Warner have formed the core of a team of six Republican and Democratic senators trying to hammer out a formula of spending cuts and revenue increases – largely through the restriction of tax deductions – that would dig the government out of its hole.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the House budget chairman, last week proposed a series of spending cuts to address the deficit – but it walls off any discussion of increased revenue or cuts to defense spending. Chambliss picked up the conversation:

”Nor does he deal with Social Security, and he makes a major reform in Medicare, which frankly goes much, much further than the debt commission. If there’s anywhere I think the debt commission’s report is week is in the area of health care cost containment.

“Paul’s a smart guy. You have to understand that he’s got to get a budget passed. And his guys want to see spending reduced. We want to see spending reduced. That’s a major part of what we’re talking about.

“But he’s talking about non-defense, discretionary spending – which is 12 percent of the budget. Now, you could cut out that whole 12 percent and you wouldn’t solve this problem of $14 trillion in debt. But you’ve got to have enough money to run the government, and then you’ve got to have excess money to start paying down on that debt.

“His idea on Medicare I think is intriguing. I’m not familiar enough with the details to know whether or not it’s practical.

“The fact that he doesn’t have any reduction in defense spending – it’s not that I disagree with him, but if you look at the amount of spending within the Defense Department, you’ve got a $700 billion discretionary defense budget that we’re looking at right now. $118 billion of that is for Iraq and Afghanistan. You can’t encroach on that, but still that leaves almost $600 billion in defense spending. If we can’t find some waste, fraud and abuse within that, then we have no business being in Congress.

“So defense spending has got to be on the table. It’s got to share in the sacrifice.”

Said Warner:

”I think it’s a serious plan. But I also think it shows the shortcoming of looking at pieces. When you try to do this plan by walling off defense, and walling off revenues, it makes it much harder…. He doesn’t balance the budget until 2040. I give him credit for serious. I give him credit for putting a plan out. But I think it again shows more so why this broader, everything-on-the-table approach that we’re taking – I believe will get more support….

“You can’t tax your way out of this, you can’t cut your way out of this, alone. You’ve also got to grow the economy. One of the things that his approach cut back dramatically on is – how do you at the same time have some structure investment, how do you make sure your not cutting back completely on your research component?”

Chambliss and Warner were also asked what they wanted to hear from Obama, who is to unveil his proposal for deficit reduction on Wednesday night. Said Chambliss:

“We welcome him engaging in the debate. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but I would hope that at some point in time he would engage with our bipartisan group. I suspect he’s going to be further to the left than our group, but I have no idea.”

Said Warner:

”Every indication that I’ve had is that the White House is very supportive of this effort. The challenge becomes, in this political environment, just as you’ve got reaction to Ryan over here.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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18 comments Add your comment


April 11th, 2011
12:31 pm

Jim – Warner is a democrat, not a republican.


April 11th, 2011
12:37 pm

Share the sacrifice? During multiple wars and a recession? Yeah, right. The only people who “share” in the sacrifice are those who don’t have enough money to purchases legislators who will “fight” for their “right” to continue their temporary tax breaks beyond the scheduled expiration date. Some people matter, and some people don’t. “Sharing” is socialistic. Screwing over the simpletons (who are okay with it because they imagine they’ll be rich someday, but never will) is the American way.

Port O'John

April 11th, 2011
12:42 pm

Knock me over with a feather, Saxby says defense spending has to be on the table? Yes, I agree. Its time defense contracting was subjected to spending controls and, yes, actual comptetion. Every time the GOP starts a budget discussion with tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and takes off the table any reductions in defense spending, you know its just a partisan dodge.

I think Mr. Ryan’s Medicare plan has a few problems. If the GOP repeals the Health Care law as they want, then the requirement that insurance companies cannot refuse coverage for pre-existing coverage goes with it. What good is an insurance subsidy to seniors if they cannot get coverage? Zip.

Even if a senior can get coverage, if they have preexisting conditions (and almost everyone over 60 will) then their insurance supplement will pay only a portion of the cost. That means some seniors will not have the ability to pay for private insurance regardless.

Now, if the Ryan was talking about allowing seniors the option to get an insurance supplement in lieu of medicare, then well-off seniors could keep their own insurance while seniors with limited means could rely on medicare. How’s that for “choice”?


April 11th, 2011
12:51 pm

It didn’t work with Jimmy Carter and it ain’t gonna work now.


April 11th, 2011
1:25 pm

In Georgia, where the Republican legislators decided tax reforms means shifting the burden from the wealthiest to the middle class, to “broaden the base” and arbitrarily sticking it to the auto repair industry. I can hardly wait to see what the Republican House has in mind. So far it is to maintain tax cuts for the “well to do” while planning to destroy Medicare for those who will be paying for today’s deficits, decades from now. Watch out for their double speak. It’s 1984, all over again.


April 11th, 2011
1:33 pm

I love when a repub mentions the word bipartisan. It is always bipartisan as long as the agreement is what the repubs want. Mr Warner needs to get his head out of you know where. The people are beginning to see where this is going and it is not with the democrats.


April 11th, 2011
1:40 pm

The first ten years of Ryan’s plan, the deficit increases. He is giving tax cuts to the wealthy and he doesn’t do away with medicare until after that. Why did Ryan vote for the unfunded prescription drug plan, if he only decided to end it? Didn’t the unfunded prescription drug plans raise the deficit. And medicare as we know it will end. What a serious guy that Paul Ryan is. Hey I helped cause the deficits but we can afford more tax cuts for the wealthy and decrease funding for medicare and medicaid. What a serious guy.


April 11th, 2011
1:43 pm

Interesting. Most comments are on the mark. What kind of tax reform is it when taxes are cut further on the wealthy in amt. approximately equal to cuts in spending on programs that help middle class in their pocketbooks (read Medicare)? This is income redistribution and class warfare and as Warren Buffett noted a year ago, his “class is winning.” At the same time, levers of power (read uncontrolled spending by Koch bros. on bogus think tanks, issue groups and pol. advertising) are being tilted dramatically in anti-democratic (small d) ways. A failed democracy ala Argentina is a real possibility unless middle class rises to protect this country.


April 11th, 2011
2:09 pm

There is one non competing vision of how to fix our fiscal mess. Mr. Ryan has offered a plan. We hope to hear a plan from the current president in a few days. Early indications are that Obama’s plan will be long on taxes and short on spending specifics. We will see.
Once there are two plans on the table we will have a plan that focuses mostly on reducing spending and one that focuses mostly on increasing taxes. We will chose betweeen a vison of more liberty and less expensive government and a vison of less liberty and more money to government. The people will choose

The Goobernator

April 11th, 2011
2:29 pm

Cut the Big Oil company and ethanol subsidies, save taxpayers $6 billion annually.
Aggressively prosecute Health Care/Medicare fraud save $75-245 Billion annually.
I guess Saxby doesn’t have Haliburton stock, otherwise he would not want defense spending cuts. I agree with other postings, private defense contracts are bilking the government and profiting the rich and the politicians in their pocket.

Gregory Mann

April 11th, 2011
3:20 pm

Georgia Republican Senator Chambliss, Virginia Democratic Senator Warner, House Republicans Ryan and Cantor and the Administration have it all wrong when it comes to Social Security. No need to cut, just see that the Social Security tax is applied to all income, earned and unearned, and with no cap, same with Medicare taxes. Right now they are capped at $108,500 of earned income. Why? We fail to tax the majority of wealth in this country. The people that make more than $108,500 represent the top 15% of all Americans and they control nearly 90% of the wealth in America.

So why do we give the rich a break? Why don’t they pay their fair share, based on income, instead of getting a pass on most of their income? Because of this cap, and because it doesn’t apply to unearned income, and some other tax shenanigans for the rich, Warren Buffet pays a lower percentage of his income in federal taxes than his secretary does. Is that FAIR? I want a FAIR TAX, too, one that is applied across the board, and without caps and loopholes, and is applied equally to earned and unearned income, and to money made form wages and hedge funds.

In fact, many expert analysts believe that eliminating the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation is the only change necessary to ensure complete solvency for the system into the future.

Remove that cap, and Social Security has enough money to pay full benefits to all recipients — without increasing the retirement age — for the next century.

Ga Values

April 11th, 2011
5:04 pm

Is this the same Saxby that worked with Pelosi and Reed to over ride “W’s” veto of the waste filled farm bill? Is this the Same Saxby that carried Lockheed’s water to continue the F22 after the defence department said it was un necessary? Is this the same Saxby who’s son Bo is an ETHANOL lobbyist? Saxby sure knows about waste.


April 11th, 2011
8:55 pm

Kudos to Warner and Chambliss. When our leaders reach a deal (and they must), it will look somewhat similar to what these Senators are talking about. So few elected officials are willing to come within a mile of touching these issues.

There are lots of members of Congress (left wing and right wing) who actively support the “do nothing” plan. Those are the members we should be criticizing! It takes a thick hide to even talk about this tough medicine that is only getting tougher the longer we wait.

Senators, please keep in mind that there are tons of people watching and we applaud what you are trying to do. If the nuts who often comment on this blog had their way, we’d all be in the soup line. Don’t think about these nuts… think about our children and grandchildren!

[...] Chambliss and Warner are out subtly criticizing Paul Ryan’s plan. They are downplaying its significance and making it clear that it won’t pass the [...]

[...] Chambliss gave away the game in an interview with the Atlanta Journal. He said, in part, “[Y]ou’ve got to have enough money to run the government, and then you’ve [...]

[...] Chambliss and Warner are out subtly criticizing Paul Ryan’s plan. They are downplaying its significance and making it clear that it won’t pass the [...]


April 12th, 2011
3:05 pm

Too many people spinning and not enough facts. First off, no one walled off “revenues” as a part of the solution. That is a code word for raising taxes, these do not mean the same thing. But Washington wants to continue to grow (not balance) and to do that they need much, much, much more money.

Getting people working and paying taxes instead of borrowing from the the system, is about revenue. Before we continue arguing about tax rates someone might want to actually look at the revenue tables. If you do you will find that the slow economy after Sept 11 caused .. shockingly?.. a loss of revenue. The Bush tax cuts from 2001; but mostly after those in 2003 show an increase in tax revenues (over the period 2003-2008 over a Trillion dollars more than the average of the previous years). But HOW!?? Seriously?…the recession reversed and revenues climbed to new highs [and they spent every new penny twice]. Don’t dismiss it, look at the IRS’s numbers. From 2008 to today revenues have dropped, was it those huge tax cuts passed in 2008? 2009? 2010? Or is it a stagnant economy and 9%+ unemployment?

Revenues are on the table and that means helping people find productive work again. But by putting future tax increases on the table, DC hopes to be able to continue spending and buying off votes and defer the problem to a future generation.