Democratic Sen. Conrad On Long-Term Budget Deal Steve Inskeep talks with Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota about a long-term budget agreement. Conrad is chairman of the Budget Committee and part of a group of six senators (three Democrats and three Republicans) trying to negotiate a compromise based on the recommendations of President Obama's debt and deficit commission.
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Democratic Sen. Conrad On Long-Term Budget Deal

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Democratic Sen. Conrad On Long-Term Budget Deal

Democratic Sen. Conrad On Long-Term Budget Deal

Democratic Sen. Conrad On Long-Term Budget Deal

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Steve Inskeep talks with Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota about a long-term budget agreement. Conrad is chairman of the Budget Committee and part of a group of six senators (three Democrats and three Republicans) trying to negotiate a compromise based on the recommendations of President Obama's debt and deficit commission.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Senator Corker called that an interesting idea but stopped short, for now, of endorsing it. Would you endorse it?

INSKEEP: That's because he does not have a comprehensive balanced approach. He only deals with a small part of domestic discretionary spending. He does deal with the entitlements. He doesn't deal with revenue. He doesn't deal with defense. And as a result he has a plan that is skewed.

INSKEEP: Given that you've criticized Congressman Ryan for not going wide enough, not going to all the different, possible places you could go to close the deficit, would you also criticize President Obama, whose budget proposal did not touch every possible base either?

INSKEEP: Yes, absolutely. I think he does not deal in a comprehensive way, and his long-term budget outlook would add too much debt. So I think we know with divided government, to get something that is passed into law is going to require a bipartisan approach. The president's fiscal commission is the only place that achieved that. And I believe we have to find a way, before the end of this year, to come together around a bipartisan plan that gets this debt down and I think that's the challenge.

INSKEEP: You're saying neither the president nor the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have gone far enough. But these are, in both cases, quite smart guys and smart politicians. Is it possible that what, in effect, they're telling you is the public is not ready for this?

INSKEEP: The only thing that enjoys majority support in among the American people in terms of spending cuts is to cut foreign aid. Well foreign aid is less than one percent of the federal budget. So when you're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that you spend, you're not going to solve the problem cutting foreign aid.

INSKEEP: Senator Conrad, some people will know that you've said that you're not running for re-election in 2012. When I heard that news, I wondered if part of your motivation for that was that you are anticipating having to take budget votes that you think would be so unpopular that you'd have trouble winning re-election anyway.

INSKEEP: Look, I believe it is critically important that America face up to this debt threat, that it do it this year, that we get a multi-year plan that is balanced and comprehensive, and that is bipartisan, because unless it's bipartisan it won't last. So that's the challenge before us. I think it's critically important for the country that we succeed.

INSKEEP: Senator Kent Conrad, thanks very much.

INSKEEP: You bet.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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