Senators encouraged by budget talks

March 10, 2013 at 3:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- A pair of U.S. senators expressed optimism Republicans and Democrats will come together to address the nation's ongoing taxation and spending stalemate.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., said the two sides are inching closer to a deal that averts a government shutdown and settles once and for all questions on tax rates, domestic and military spending and entitlement benefits.

Coburn praised President Barack Obama for reaching out to Republicans last week in personal appeals, including a dinner hosted at a Washington hotel for roughly a dozen senators, where Obama made his pitch in person -- and picked up the check.

"One of the points I'd make is the fact that this is news, it is news in itself because it shouldn't be news that the president is reaching out in a bipartisan fashion to try to solve problems for the country," Coburn said. "And it just shows you -- that he is moving in the right direction. I'm proud of him for doing it and I think it's a great thing."

For his part, Kaine said progress on the federal budget is closer now than at similar points in previous failed negotiations between the two sides -- and that it should include all elements, including Medicare and Social Security, two programs both sides have been loathe to touch given the potential political backlash.

"I do agree with ... what Tom said at the end of the day, we're going to have to find a balanced solution, and it will involve all elements," Kaine said. "It will involve talking about revenues, talking about expenses, talking about entitlements, we have to do that."

Kaine called on senators to forgo their own salaries if a deal isn't in place by mid-April.

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