Kirk wants 'dramatic' cuts, but could raise debt limit 'a little bit'

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Friday that he's a "no" vote on raising the debt limit unless "dramatic anti-spending reform" is enacted, but said the limit could be extended "a little bit" if cuts aren't deep enough.

“We can't just cut billions. We have to cut trillions. Which is why, in my view, the biggest vote in this Congress is on the debt limit extension,” Kirk said in an interview on Fox Business Network. “Now, I'm a no vote unless we have dramatic anti-spending.”

He was pressed on whether he'd support a government shutdown if cuts don't come through.

"No, but we've got to have dramatic anti-spending reform," Kirk said. "I think appropriate if we don't have substantial anti- spending reforms, we extend the debt limit a little bit, like $50 billion."

Kirk praised House Republicans for moving to cut $100 billion from Obama's 2011 budget request in a government-spending bill unveiled Friday night. But he said policymakers need to cut more.

“But then you have to go to the big kahuna, entitlement reform,” Kirk said. “That requires presidential leadership. Republicans should support the president in doing that because we need to get a handle on the whole budget.”

Kirk said lawmakers should take a lesson from former President Ronald Reagan.

“I think what we do is we repeat the model of President Reagan and [former House Speaker Tip O’Neill] that sat down and said, we are going to endorse two key reforms in the case of Social Security,” he said. “They increased the retirement age from 65 to 67 and also increased the Social Security withholding.”

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