(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) couldn’t name one specific thing that Democrats should cut from the budget for future spending when challenged to do so Wednesday on “CNN This Morning.”
Meanwhile, when asked whether President Biden should negotiate on the debt ceiling, Durbin said, “absolutely not.”
“The debt ceiling is a critical vote for our economy, for jobs, for the fate of businesses, and the reputation of the United States to pay its bills. That should not be negotiated. Now, if Speaker McCarthy wants to negotiate on the budget, that's another item. That's another issue. It will come up a little later,” he said.
“I would suggest to him some of the things that are coming forward from mega Republicans, attacks on Social Security and Medicare, which Senator Scott of Florida has suggested as well as the notion of a 30% national sales tax, which is floating in the House of Representatives, are non-starters,” the senator said.
Asked whether it’s more likely we’ll default on the debt than when we came to the brink of doing so in 2011, Durbin said, “God forbid Speaker McCarthy would want that on his record. For the first time in the history of the United States, we are going to default on our debt? Watch what happens to interest rates if he gets his way.
“This default would be disastrous in terms of new home purchases and the value of homes, businesses and jobs. We are going to find ourselves in the spin into a recession if McCarthy follows through,” he said.
Asked whether he’s more worried about default on the national debt than he was in 2011, Durbin said, “Fifteen roll calls later, I wonder if the House of Representatives is in a position to do the responsible thing. Three times during the Trump presidency we had bipartisan votes to extend the debt ceiling. There was no game playing here. At a time when President Trump was increasing the national debt accumulated over 230 years by 25%. So the debt was going up. We were asked to extend the debt ceiling. We did the responsible thing. We should do it again.”
When asked what cuts Democrats should consider on future debt, Durbin said, “Listen, we should always consider eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, but let’s not make a mistake.
“Under the Biden administration we’ve been reducing the national debt when we passed the inflation reduction act, which gave the $35 a month insulin, for example, addressed a lot of issues, the cost of health care for seniors. We reduced the deficit with that as well,” the senator said.
“So we have been doing responsible things. The conversation should continue, but don't hold the economy and reputation of the United States hostage by saying the debt ceiling is somehow involved in this,” he said.
CNN host Poppy Harlow pointed out that Durbin didn’t name anything that Democrats should cut.
HARLOW: A lot of that direct impact we've seen in terms of decrease in spending has been because some of that stimulus for COVID has ended, but you didn't name any specific thing that you think Democrats should consider cutting.
DURBIN: Listen, I've been in the House --
HARLOW: Can you give me specifics?
DURBIN: Let me just add, you failed to mention, not holding it against you that under the Trump administration, there was also the $2 million tax break for the wealthiest Americans.
HARLOW: Of course, 2017 tax cuts.
DURBIN: Please include that in the Trump record as well. In terms of going forward, that's another point I want to make. When we are talking about revenue that we can bring in to reduce the deficit by asking the wealthiest among us and corporations that are escaping tax responsibility to do their fair share, that has to be part of the conversation as well. This notion that we are just going to have no alternative but to cut basic programs for veterans or for people in low-income situations, that to me is a false choice.
Harlow pointed out that Durbin introduced the Debt Ceiling Reform Act last year, which takes that responsibility from Congress and assigns it to the treasury secretary - “one unelected individual.” She asked why that should be taken out of the hands of Congress. “Isn’t that why you guys are elected to do this hard stuff?” Harlow asked.
“Well, of course that's true, but the fact is there's been political gamesmanship when it comes to our debt ceiling over the last 20 or so years, and we’ve got to bring this to an end. We shouldn't put the economy of the United States in peril, because we're in the midst of preparing for a presidential campaign,” Durbin said.
“My belief and others share it is that saying to Congress you can disagree with the president on extending the debt ceiling but you have to do it with an extraordinary vote, I think that’s– let's us come out on the record on this issue without jeopardizing the economy,” he said.