Sessions also said the bipartisan group of senators using the plan from President Obama’s fiscal commission as a guide for legislation now find themselves in a stronger position, after the Senate rejected both a House plan and a Democratic alternative that cut far less in spending.
“I think the momentum for containing spending is growing, because the crisis is more real than a lot of us like to admit,” Conrad said.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Budget Committee and one of the so-called Gang of Six, has consistently said the recent conversation on reining in deficits was too short-sighted and called it “healthy” when top Democrats suggested broadening the discussion out to included entitlement and tax reform.
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairs of the president’s fiscal commission, also testified before the Conrad and Sessions’ committee this week, telling senators they did not think either Obama’s 2012 budget or the House plan to cut spending this year did enough to rein in long-term deficits.
Sessions pushed back against some of those assertions at the hearing and also indicated that he was not fond of the commission’s plan to use increased tax revenues for roughly a third of its deficit reduction.
But the senator also told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt in the interview that he would at least look at a long-term deficit plan that raised some taxes and said that “improvements” could be made this year to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.
“Taxes: they’ll be a bitter pill for me, but we have got to get this country on the right path,” Sessions said.
The senator also rejected the claims from Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and others that the House cuts would at least somewhat impede economic recovery.
“I don’t believe those numbers are defensible,” said Sessions, citing John Taylor, a conservative economist that also questioned those findings.