|By Borys Krawczeniuk, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.|
The "grand bargain" quietly under discussion by members of
"I'm not as worried about the road or the duration that we have to travel. We just have to get an agreement in place," said Casey, the chairman of
Fresh off Casey's re-election Tuesday, the interview centered on the upcoming "fiscal cliff" and negotiating an even bigger deficit-reduction deal in 2013.
The "fiscal cliff" is the name given to the economic damage that most economists believe would follow if
Casey said once the "grand bargain" agreement is done, the economy will rebound further and produce even more revenue to cut into future deficits as investors and business owners gain confidence that federal tax rates and finances will stabilize.
"Priority No. 1 is to get the economy moving faster," he said. "That's central to it."
Proposed higher taxes on the wealthy must be part of eliminating deficits, he said.
"If you get an agreement on upper-income tax rates and derive some revenue from that, that's a part of it," he said. "The other part of it is substantial tax reform. Everyone agrees on that. The disagreement is how to do it and where to do it. But there's broad agreement on the need for tax reform. No one disputes that the corporate (income tax) rate is probably too high. The question is how low do you bring that down."
With tax reform, higher taxes on the wealthy, more spending cuts and "efficiencies" in government, "you can develop a broad and balanced plan that has –at least the beginnings of enough revenue and enough cost reduction," he said. "It's hard, it's going to be difficult to get people to work together, but I do think there are enough people in both parties that understand the gravity of the problem and have enough of a sense of urgency."
The overall federal debt is more than
Under a plan proposed by
Based on current estimates,
None of the deficit-reduction discussion so far appears focused on dealing with either problem.
Casey said he expects the new health care reform law to save
Casey said he did not "read too much" into a statement Wednesday by Republican House Speaker
"Sometimes you have leaders that are saying things for positioning that may not reflect where they'll end up when they have to get in a room and have to negotiate something weeks from now," he said.
His hopes are higher for negotiations because the election campaign's end removes a major reason for partisanship and members understand the seriousness of the deficit problems.
"We were on the road in August, on the road for part of September and on the road for October, and I don't care who you are, Democrat or Republican, House or
Casey said members of
"If that's what someone thinks the message was, they better go back and listen a little more carefully," he said. "I heard it everywhere. Even people that sometimes are very partisan themselves and want you –to maybe be more partisan, even those folks are saying, 'Come on, you guys have got to get something done.'"
Promises of more bipartisanship happen after every election, but Casey said he is optimistic about compromise by both sides because
As for his
He thinks there's a "50-50 chance" that his committee assignments will change because of retirements and the election of two more Democratic senators.
Casey is a member of the
Casey said he hopes to remain on Foreign Relations. If opportunities arise to move to more significant committees such as Appropriations, "I'd certainly pursue them," he said.
Though his name has been bandied about occasionally as a possibility, Casey sounded uninterested in running for governor in 2014, even though he did not say no when asked.
"I'm real happy where I am," he said. "I just am real lucky to be where I am. Do you realize how hard these campaigns are? –I'm really happy and fortunate."
(c)2012 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
Visit The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com
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|Source:||McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|