Alexander: Senate Democratic Leader “Manufactured a Crisis” on Disaster Relief

Says, “Too much chest pounding and game playing...going on...when we should be spending time to see if we can get $4 trillion in debt reduction”

Posted on September 25, 2011

NASHVILLE – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was a guest on CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning and discussed the debt, spending, and the renewed threat of a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government. Excerpts of his interview follow:

On whether Alexander thinks the Tea Party or a Tea Party-backed effort in the House is responsible for the renewed threat of a government shutdown:

“No, I don’t. I’ll give the Senate Democratic Leader most of the credit. He manufactured a crisis all week about disaster relief when there was no crisis. Everyone knows we’ll pay every penny of disaster aid that the President declares and FEMA certifies. The House settled on a bill that would do that and the Senate should have passed it … What we should have been doing this past week is all we could so the work Senators Warner and Chambliss have done to reduce the debt by $4 trillion succeeds, instead of all this chest-pounding and game-playing that’s been going on.”

On “going big” by finding $4 trillion in debt reduction:

“I don't like this business of sitting around blaming each other over such small potatoes. What we really ought to be doing is spending time to see if we can get $4 trillion in debt reduction. Senators Warner, Chambliss and others have rounded up 37 senators equally divided by party who agree we should do that. We'd like our super committee to succeed. If we could do that, we could begin to get the economy in better shape and gain some confidence in the country.”

On the “super committee” tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in debt reduction by Christmas:

“I’m hopeful, I'm optimistic. The budget agreement that we agreed on in August is better than people think. It took 40 percent of the budget – discretionary spending, everything from national defense to national parks – and got it down to where it’s only going up over the next ten years at about the rate of inflation. Another 55 percent of the budget is mandatory spending, which is going up at three times the rate of inflation. I hope that the super committee works on that part of the budget and I'm willing to define success in terms of what happens there not just in the next ten years but the following ten years and the ten years after that.”

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