Chambliss discusses budget deal with radio host - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chambliss discusses budget deal with radio host

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Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. John Warner, members of the 'Gang of Six' (ABC News) Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. John Warner, members of the 'Gang of Six' (ABC News)
Radio host Martha Zoller (MarthaZoller.com) Radio host Martha Zoller (MarthaZoller.com)

 Georgia's senior senator Saxby Chambliss, a native of Moultrie, is a member of the so-called 'Gang of Six,' three Republicans and three Democrat senators, who are proposing a possible solution to the impending federal financial problem.

Chambliss spoke with syndicated radio host Martha Zoller Wednesday. They discussed a financial compromise that some politicians are seeing as common ground that could lead to a spending agreement that would prevent a federal government financial default.

Here is the transcript of the interview, provided by Chambliss' office:

Martha: We're here today with Senator Saxby Chambliss. He is one of the co-sponsors of Cut, Cap and Balance in the Senate but he is also one of the members of the Gang of Six. Senator Chambliss, thank you so much for being with me here today.

Saxby: Always good to be here with you, Martha.

Martha: Are you on the speakerphone?

Saxby: I am. Do I need to pick up?

Martha: That'd be great. Thank you so much. Listen, tell me a little bit first of all about the Gang of Six and what it's gonna do overall.

Saxby: Well, Martha, this group has been meeting and negotiating as three Democrats and three Republicans for about seven months over the issue of the long-term debt. That's always been our focus-the 14.5 trillion dollars that all your listeners know our country owes. If we don't face it then it's gonna cause serious problems for the country plus we just don't need to leave it to our children and grandchildren to pay that back.

That's what this group has been focused on and we don't have the luxury in the Senate of being in control like our House friends are. They can very well pass anything they want to. We have to come up with proposals that will garner 60 votes and that means you have to have Democrats and Republicans working together. The proposal we've come up with is a balanced proposal between serious reduction in discretionary spending.

We impose spending caps for the first four years that saves us about $500 billion immediately. We reform entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare. Medicaid will be addressed also and achieve savings. Most significantly, we reform and save those programs without seeing the cost of those programs increase in a dramatic way.

And then we got to figure out a way to energize the economy and we do this through making significant reforms to the tax code by eliminating expenditures and tax credits, lowering tax rates to historic lows both personal and corporate-wise. We eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. What we're proposing will broaden the base of taxpayers by letting corporations invest capital in Georgia and in the country to create the jobs that people are looking for and that's the way you expand the tax base and increase revenue without increasing taxes.

That's kind of a quick thumbnail sketch of what we propose. Is it gonna be a part of the mix for the debt ceiling debate? We've never focused on that and I would not like to see the plan put in place as a part of the debt ceiling if we do it as we propose it because it's a two-step proposal. We get about a $500 billion down payment plus some among other things, and I don't want to give 500 hundred billion bucks to get the debt ceiling raised and then all the other measures that are in the second bill that's part of our proposal never come to fruition.

It's difficult in my opinion to say we're gonna be in the mix for the debt ceiling but if they want to take part or all of our proposal to ensure the passage of important provisions and obviously I'll be excited about that.

Martha: And I know what the critics are saying, and you know they're out there, that this is just a framework –there aren't enough details.

Saxby: Well that's always the case with a very complex piece of legislation. We did let out more detail yesterday. And we're in the process of drafting the legislation now and it'll have to get scored by the CBO. It's actually gonna score as a tax cut with the tax provisions and the elimination of the AMT. They're gonna be people who are critical of it in any number of areas but interestingly enough Moveon.org criticized us too so it's coming from the right and the left.

Martha: You've addressed a couple of times the other issue about revenue and about taxes. What's you're saying is it gets rid of loopholes , that it's getting rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, and it's gonna lower corporate taxes and that you're gonna lower individual taxpayer taxes across the board.

Saxby: Right now we've got six individual brackets at the personal level. We're gonna lower that to three brackets. The highest rate now is 35 percent the lowest rate is 15 percent and under our proposal the lowest rate will be 8 percent, the highest bracket will be 29 percent maximum, hopefully it will be lower than that and we do that by elimination of expenditures and tax credits.

We know all of them are not gonna be eliminated. Home mortgage interest deduction, charitable deduction, certain corporate deductions, you should not eliminate totally, you should modify them and by doing that it gives us the opportunity just like Ronald Reagan did of lowering tax rates and increasing the base out there by energizing the economy and that's the way you increase revenue. We don't need to increase revenue by raising taxes.

Martha: Do you see this fitting into, obviously what you see is a separate bill about the debt limit, is that what you're saying?

Saxby: Yeah that's the way we've always looked at it. If nothing else, I hope that what we've accomplished is showing that Republicans and Democrats can work together on this fiscal issue and there is common ground out there and maybe we can show some momentum to move forward on the debt ceiling which needs to be addressed now. Our bill to be fully implemented would need an additional six months for committees to come back and take some action and report back to Congress.

And so that's why I say I think we're gonna be in the debate from the standpoint that we're working on a common issue of debt and deficit. As far as the debt ceiling, it's gonna be very difficult to incorporate our bill into the mix

Martha: Senator Chambliss, I know how hard it's been and I know you've taken a lot of slings and arrows. Now who replaced Senator Coburn in this group?

Saxby: Senator Coburn rejoined us. And there's been, I know the President said yesterday, that know we're up to seven. I'm not sure where he got the seven from, but in any event, we've had a number of senators who've endorsed the plan and I suspect that's where the seventh came from.

What has been rewarding Martha is, you know this is a tough, tough issue but it's one that we've got to address and some hard and difficult decision are gonna have to be made. Yesterday we had over 50 senators at our briefing early yesterday morning. The reaction we got from Republicans and from Democrats, liberals and conservatives was extremely positive.

Martha: Well if you have 50 senators and the six of you all, that's 56 senators, you only need four more.

Saxby: But I won't say every one of them is going to vote for it because there's a lot of them that like the proposal and dislike it. If I could write this by myself, I couldn't write it. Paul Ryan had the luxury of being able write a budget like he wanted because they control the House. We don't control the Senate.

Martha: And Senator Chambliss, I appreciate you giving us the time this morning. We're up against a hard break but we appreciate you very much. Thank you so much and we'll talk more about this.

Saxby: OK, I will look forward to staying in touch Martha. In the mean time, we will be debating Cut, Cap and Balance and I will be really looking forward to this debate.