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Van Hollen: Dems have compromised on spending side

Speaking on CNN’s “Starting Point,” Van Hollen said President Obama had provided a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction as lawmakers look for a solution to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts. 

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Van Hollen said Obama’s plans includes “additional revenue by asking high-income earners to pay more to reduce the deficit, but it also includes spending cuts.”

He also touted the president's healthcare bill and said those reforms had already helped rein in spending, despite opposition from Republicans. 

“The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan entity, shows that actually over the next 10 years it reduces the deficit and over the next 20-year period it reduces it by even more,” Van Hollen said.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats had failed to break from “radical voices on the hard left” and provide real spending cuts and entitlement reforms to match Republican offers on revenue increases.

McConnell said he hoped to see a Democratic plan that “goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail, and that has a realistic chance of passing the Congress.”

White House and congressional staffers were slated to begin exchanging proposals on deficit reduction this week, but reports suggest those talks will be delayed. McConnell accused Democrats of holding back entitlement reform from the negotiating table.

Van Hollen on Tuesday hit back and said Democrats were right to protect those programs in talks.

“Social Security is not part of the debt, deficit problem,” said Van Hollen. “We are not going to raid Social Security to pay down other parts of the deficit.

“With respect to Medicare and spending cuts, it’s really interesting to hear Sen. McConnell say this, because he knows we adopted over a trillion dollars in cuts over the next 10 years; he also knows the Congressional Budget Office would reduce the deficit,” Van Hollen said, touting Democratic efforts on spending.

“We need to take the balanced mixed approach; the president has actually put that plan on the table; it would be useful if our Republican colleagues, Mitch McConnell, would actually tell the American people what they are talking about,” he added. “You can see the president’s plan — it’s actually on the Internet.”