Uploaded on Dec 2, 2010
Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) breaks down the official proposal of the Deficit Commission and concludes that it helps the rich and corporations while screwing the average middle class American.
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Reporting from Washington — Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat and a close ally of President Obama, will vote Friday to support the final recommendations of the bipartisan deficit commission, arguing that the nation's growing debt requires lawmakers to make difficult choices.
Durbin announced his decision in an op-ed that will be published in Friday's Chicago Tribune.
"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," he writes.
Illinois' senior senator acknowledges that many, particularly on the left, vehemently oppose several of the commission's recommendations. But he says both parties need to be candid about the precarious state of the nation's finances, and that when the hard choices are made, "I want progressive voices at the table."
"I disagree with many provisions, but I certainly agree that this is the moment of truth," Durbin said in an interview with the Tribune Washington Bureau.
Though he'll vote to support the final report Friday, Durbin said further negotiations need to take place for him to be in a position to vote for them on the Senate floor.
"I wouldn't vote for it. We need to have some debate, and some amendments," he said. But, "we can't avoid this debate. And this is an excellent, honest starting point."
The final vote of the full commission remains unclear. But four of the panel's 18 members have already come out publicly to say they would reject the proposals, including another Illinois Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Under the executive order President Obama issued creating the panel in February, 14 votes are required for the recommendations to move to the Senate for consideration.
Durbin's vote is, however, the 10th public commitment in favor of it, ensuring a majority of members will endorse the plan. In the interview, Durbin said the work of the commission will remain front and center in the new Congress.
"There will be at least three Democrats and three Republican elected officials voting for it. That's a breakthrough. That's never happened before," he said.
That support could help Durbin lobby his colleagues to show the political courage that may be needed to enact the proposals. Fresh off a tumultuous campaign, lawmakers may not have the appetite to do so.
"I know that voting for this creates another opportunity for negative ads. But if you're going to turn tail, cut and run every time someone threatens a 30-second ad, you ought to get out of this business," he said. "You've got to stand up every once and while — even if it's unpopular — and do what you think is right. And that's what I'm doing."
Friday's vote comes as lawmakers work with the White House to reach a compromise on extending tax cuts due to expire at year's end. The House voted Thursday to extend lower rates for households making less than $250,000, despite opposition from Republicans who want lower rates extended across the board.
Democrats argue that the nation can't afford that additional extension, and Durbin noted the contrast between those deliberations and those of the deficit commission.
"So we have the reality in the commission room and the lack of reality in the Capitol," he said.
Durbin said he has not discussed the proposals in detail with Obama. The White House has said it would wait until Friday's vote to comment.
"I think he's likely to say what I'm going to say: I don't agree with everything in it, but I salute the commission for an honest analysis of our fiscal crisis, and an honest approach to solving it," Durbin said.
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