Senate races

Playing it safe, Warren declines to endorse Obama plan on ‘fiscal cliff’

Newly elected Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) declined to endorse President Obama’s “fiscal cliff” proposal to Congress. 

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Warren played it safe and declined to endorse any plan to prevent scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts next year that economists warn could trigger a recession. 

“I don’t know how to answer the question,” she told the Globe. “Let’s see what they’ve got.”

{mosads}Warren offered aspects of a deal she had already outlined on the campaign trail — higher taxes on top earners, the elimination of oil and agriculture subsidies and cuts to military spending — but also said she’d support “technocratic” changes to Medicare, which she declined to explain further.

Lawmakers and the White House are trying to reach a deal this month for Congress to approve. Warren will not take office until January, meaning she likely won’t have to vote on an initial package, unless it is delayed. 

In her first in-depth interview since she defeated Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on election night, Warren told the Boston Globe that she has no pet projects to pursue in the Senate yet, and is currently simply working on securing an apartment in Washington, D.C. She said she has spoken with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at least six times, a high level of attention from top Senate brass for any incoming lawmaker.

Warren, an outspoken critic of Wall Street and one of the lead architects of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has reportedly been offered a seat on the powerful Senate Banking Committee. She declined to confirm this, and didn’t offer any policies she’d pursue in the position.

Warren has made it clear that filibuster reform will be a priority. She has pledged to constituents since her election that she’d be a leader in the effort to reform the rules on the first day the Senate is back in session. But she told the Globe that she doesn’t plan to be a bomb-thrower, and instead will look for “cracks” through which to achieve her agenda.

“My job is to be effective on behalf of Massachusetts, and so what I’m trying to parse through is the difference between how much of this is about your own initiative, how much it’s about finding other bills that are really what you’d like to see get done and offering to be helpful [and] how much it’s looking for the little cracks that are windows of opportunity,” she said.

Warren also endorsed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for a position in Obama’s cabinet, telling the Globe he would be “an extraordinary secretary of State.” The man who will be her senior colleague when she comes to the Senate is reportedly a top option for secretary of State or Defense, a position that would open up a special election for his seat, which could allow Warren’s former opponent, Brown, to run again.

She declined to comment, however, on the political prospects of such a development.

“I’m not in the pundit business,” Warren said.

Tags Elizabeth Warren Harry Reid John Kerry
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