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Economist Mom

Deficit reduction plan: Durbin and Bixby weigh in

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the Concord Coalition's Bob Bixby comment on the impact of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction proposal.

By Guest blogger / December 6, 2010

Sen. Dick Durbin (r.), here seen stumping with President Obama (l.) for U.S. senatorial candidate Alexi Giannoulias, Oct. 7, cast a vote Friday in favor of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction proposal, as part of the president's blue ribbon deficit reduction commission. The proposal received 11 out of 18 votes: a majority, but not the requisite super-majority (14 votes) needed.

Susan Walsh / AP / File

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I really can’t say it any better than these two have today– Senator Dick Durbin (a Democratic leader from Illinois) and my boss Bob Bixby (executive director of the Concord Coalition).

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Senator Durbin explains his “yes” vote:

On Friday, when President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform gathers to consider a plan to bring our national debt under control, I will be voting yes. It was not an easy decision, and I know my vote will be widely criticized, but I believe it is the right thing to do.

The simple fact is this: America needs to grow our economy and reduce our $13.8 trillion debt.

This plan is not perfect, and it is certainly not the plan I would have written. But it will help put Americans back to work and it will reduce our federal debt dramatically. If we don’t act now — if we pass this issue on to another Congress, another generation — the tough choices we face now only get tougher…

The question my closest political friends are asking is this: Why is a progressive like Dick Durbin voting for this deficit commission report? First, all politicians, left or right, Democrat or Republican, have to acknowledge the deficit crisis our nation faces. Borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar we spend for missiles or food stamps is unsustainable. And being indebted for generations to China and OPEC does not make American a stronger nation.

When we engage in the critical decisions about our nation’s future budgets, I want progressive voices at the table to argue that we must protect the most vulnerable in our society and demand fairness in budget cuts.

My friend, mentor and former Illinois Sen. Paul Simon, echoing former Sen. Paul Douglas , famously said: “To be a liberal doesn’t mean you’re a wastrel. We must, in fact, be thrifty if we are to be really humane.”

It’s time for all of us to come together to make hard choices. I am ready to do my part.