Tester backs responsible, bipartisan plan to cut debt and spending

Senator backs ‘Gang of Six’ plan to strengthen Social Security and Medicare for future

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester has joined a bipartisan group of Senators supporting the bipartisan “Gang of Six” plan to cut debt and cut spending without make any cuts to Social Security or dismantling Medicare.

The “Gang of Six” — a group of Republican and Democratic senators — this week revived its popular budget proposal, which is based on the recommendations of the bipartisan Debt Commission.  Tester voted to create the Debt Commission last year.

“This plan from Democrats and Republicans strikes middle ground to keep Medicare and Social Security from going broke while making responsible spending cuts and reforming the tax code to close loopholes for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas,” Tester said. “Unlike the House’s unpopular, partisan plan to wipe out Medicare while protecting expensive tax loopholes for millionaires and Big Oil, our plan is designed by both parties to actually cut spending and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.”

In addition to strengthening Social Security and Medicare, the “Gang of Six” plan would:
• Cut the nation’s deficits by as much as $3.7 trillion over 10 years;
• Stabilize publicly-held debt by 2014;
• Reduce publicly-held debt to roughly 70% of our economy by 2021, and
• Maintain investments that encourage economic growth

In a letter signed by 34 senators from both parties, Tester today told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that the “Gang of Six” plan can “unite Republicans, Democrats and Independents” with its balanced mix of spending cuts, tax and entitlement reform, and limited future spending.

Text of Tester’s letter to Reid and McConnell appears below.


Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:

This is an enormously important and perilous time for our nation.  The decisions we make now about how and when to address our debt and deficit problems will have profound repercussions for our way of life and standing in the world now and for generations to come.  In light of the profound challenges we face, the “Gang of Six” has produced a framework that provides a bipartisan, comprehensive and balanced way to put our nation on a stable fiscal path.

None of the choices we face is easy, and each of us comes to this process with our own concerns and priorities.  We also realize that none of us can address those concerns or protect our priorities if we fail to act in a bipartisan manner and are willing to forge a responsible agreement that recognizes we must place everything on the table.

The plan includes spending cuts, tax and entitlement reform, and enforcement to constrain future spending.  The plan would:

• Slash our nation’s deficits by $3.7/$3.6 trillion over ten years under CBO’s March 2011 baseline, or $4.65 trillion/$4.5 trillion under the original fiscal commission baseline (which used the President’s 2011 budget request as the starting point for discretionary spending);
• Stabilize our publicly-held debt by 2014;
• Reduce our publicly-held debt to roughly 70% of our economy by 2021; and
• Impose unprecedented budget enforcement.
This is a plan that can unite Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  It would give committees of jurisdiction clear instructions and an opportunity to refine the choices we must make. 

It is our strong belief that this plan can not only serve as a template for addressing this crisis, but would allow the Congress to work, and reignite our troubled economy by providing the leadership and certainty the American people expect and deserve from us.

Jon Tester, et al