CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Can you get a deal on the debt ceiling? Can you raise that debt ceiling without agreeing to some spending cuts? SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Well, I think we’re going to need both. What the president has said is we need some balance here. From this point forward –
CANDY CROWLEY: Excuse me, but what the President said is he’s not going to deal, he’s not going to negotiate. He just wants you to raise it. Is that going to happen?
SENATOR DURBIN: Let me add one thing. I think in the course of the State of the Union address, and the President has already said, “We’re going to be talking about further deficit reduction, but it has to be done in a balanced way,” at the heart of this debt ceiling debates is whether or not we’re going to continue to reduce the deficit. I think we need to do it in a thoughtful way, and the President said as long as it’s balanced he’s open to the conversation.
CANDY CROWLEY: Okay, so I’m confused because I’ve heard him say multiple times, “I am not going to negotiate over raising this debt ceiling.” So, are you going to negotiate?
SENATOR DURBIN: I can just tell you this; the debt ceiling is something that we should put behind us in a hurry. You know, it was John Engler, Republican Governor, former Republican governor of Michigan — now head of the business roundtable — said we ought to project debt ceilings for the next four or five years and not fight over them every time they come up. And Newt Gingrich, of all people, said it was a debt loser for the Republicans to choose this as an issue. I’m saying the President should not have one of these last-minute showdowns over the debt ceiling, but we should speak in honest and I think complete terms about dealing with this deficit. It truly is a challenge we haven’t faced as much as we should.
CANDY CROWLEY: So taking the President out of it, do you think that you could agree to spending cuts, provided you were amenable to whatever the cuts were, in order to get the debt ceiling raised?
SENATOR DURBIN: I can tell you that sounds like a bargain, and it sounds like a deadline that I don’t want to see. What I’d rather see is a bipartisan approach starting soon, as soon as we return, between Democrats, Republicans and the House and the Senate. Talking about where we go, for example in, tax reform. There’s money to be saved in tax reform, there’s money to be saved in other areas. Debbie stabna, head of the Senate Ag Committee found a way to save $23 billion in spending we don’t need in the farm program and reduce the deficit. Why doesn’t the House take that up and pass it? That’s a good move towards deficit reduction.