Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., speaking to reporters today about his new $9 trillion deficit-reduction proposal, said a so-called "grand bargain" on the debt could not wait until after the next election.
“You can’t put it off (until 2013)," Coburn said in his Senate office conference room. "It’s impossible. The country won’t make it. You can’t do that. You have to do it now, regardless of the politics.”
Rating agency Standard and Poor's warned last week that it could downgrade the nation's credit in the coming months even if there is a debt limit incrase.
"I think they’re saying it’s not enough to extend the debt limit," Coburn said. "It’s only enough if you make the significant cuts and changes in the budget that will give us confidence to say you deserve a AAA rating."
Coburn rejected the framework being discussed between Senate leaders, Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., because it would not do much to bring down deficits.
“All it does is solve the debt limit problem, but it doesn’t solve our debt problem,” he said.
He also said it was a way of lawmakers to try to duck responsibility.
Coburn argued that Republicans should be willing to support higher tax revenue as part of a deal. His proposal identifies roughly $1 trillion in potential revenue that could be generated by eliminating various credits and tax deductions. While he noted his preference would be to use that as part of a tax reform that lowered rates, he said he'd be willing to put it toward deficit reduction instead.
“I expect Republicans to stand up and try to solve the problems of the country regardless of what happens to them politically," he said when asked about GOP opposition to a net tax increase. "That’s what I expect Republicans to do.”
He continued, "This is a sick place...We need a bunch of spinal transplants in both parties.
Coburn's plan is not a formal budget. Instead, his spokesman described it as a "buffet" which proposes $9 trillion worth of proposals for deficit reduction that lawmakers can pick and choose from.