By Erik Wasson
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” predicted that Republicans will not play political games with the debt ceiling or force the government to shut down because in his view Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is more reasonable than former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was in 1995 and 1996.
“Speaker John Boehner is much more responsible,” he said. Gingrich's willingness to shut down the government in 1995 and delay approval of a bill raising the debt ceiling enhanced President Clinton's reelection effort the following year.
Durbin used his appearance to defend the economic stimulus sand said it is important that Congress does not hit the “deficit brakes” too soon and imperil the recovery.
“I think that stimulus package stopped the bleeding,” he said of the 2009 Recovery Act. On the same program Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that there is little evidence that the stimulus contributed to private sector growth.
He said that last week's visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao was a reminder that the U.S. needs to bolster innovation and education to compete for jobs in a global marketplace. President Obama is expected to propose targeted spending on research and development, infrastructure and education in Tuesday's State of the Union address in addition to backing an effort to tackle the long-term national debt.
Durbin said that Democrats are not opposed to reducing spending per se and will look at what Republicans propose to cut.
He recommended that all sides look at the report of the president's debt commission, which he voted for as a commission member.