McCaskill: Limiting spending is like good parenting

“Sometimes it’s more important to say 'no,'” the Missouri Democrat said. “Well, we have a bunch of people in Congress that have made a lifetime career of saying 'yes.'”

She then added that many lawmakers have gotten caught up in trying not to disappoint their constituents, to the point that “our unwillingness to say 'no,' our unwillingness to embrace controversy and political risk has led us to an economic brink.”

The bill that Corker and McCaskill are pushing would, during a 10-year span, decrease mandatory and discretionary spending as a percentage of gross domestic product from 24.7 percent to 20.6 percent. The bill, which is co-sponsored by a small group of Senate Republicans, also would give to the Office of Management and Budget authority to make budget cuts if Congress fails to meet its spending goal.

For his part, Corker stressed the simplicity of the 10-page measure on the Senate floor and that the measure would spark a comprehensive look at federal spending, including entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.  

“What this bill would require us to do is set priorities,” Corker said. “It would mean that we would have to ensure that programs are being run as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

The two senators’ measure comes amid a string of proposals to limit spending, including President Obama’s call last week for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending that is not related to security.  On Tuesday, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the Budget Committee chairman, said that his panel should look to craft a bipartisan deficit reduction plan in the coming weeks.

In her speech Tuesday, McCaskill ripped into one of the recent proposals – the plan by a group of conservative lawmakers to roll back spending by $2.5 trillion.

“Anybody who thinks that’s going to happen, I’ve got like a tutu you need to wear down the hall tomorrow,” McCaskill said. “That’s a ridiculous proposal.”

And the Missouri senator – who faces what could be a tough 2012 reelection fight – brought up her own political future, saying this “bold step” she was taking with Corker could work against her. 

“If this bill is distorted and twisted, it could cost me my Senate seat,” she said. “But it’s a price I’m willing to pay.”