Sen. Conrad: Extend All Tax Cuts; Time to Get 'Serious' About Deficit

The White House conceded that in order to get the middle class tax cuts passed in the lame duck session they would need to agree to extend all of them - the Huffington Post reported - and they will have the full support of Sen. Kent Conrad.

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee told me this morning he “certainly hope[s]” Obama and Congress can come to an agreement before everyone’s taxes go up on Dec. 31.

“I think the President’s remarks are constructive, as you know I proposed some weeks ago that we extend all the tax cuts for a period of time until we are able to fundamentally reform the tax system,” he said. “Because that is what is required in part here along with spending reductions. Both are going to have to be done if we are going to get out of this deep hole.”

The North Dakota Democrat serves on the commission for deficit reduction – which just came out with a draft proposal that includes tax increases and spending cuts to social security and Medicare.

Powerful Democrats and Republicans alike were quick to criticize the proposal, but Conrad offered a dire warning and said it’s time to get serious about our debt.

“Instead of shooting this down propose an alternative. But one that does as good a job as this one does in getting us back on a sound fiscal course,” he said.

“If we don’t find a solution this country is going to become a second tier economic power. That is the hard reality. And there are no easy solutions. This idea that you just cut waste and fraud, that’s not going to do it. The idea that you don’t have to touch revenue, that’s not going to do it. The idea that you don’t have to touch social security or Medicare, that’s not going to do it,” Conrad told me. Conrad said he will take a tough vote on reducing the deficit and realizes that some will have to take a political hit in order to push the recommendations through.

“There is no way doing it that’s not controversial and difficult. But you know today is Veterans’ Day. You think of what they sacrificed for this country. If some of us have to sacrifice a political career to get this country back on track then so be it. It has to be done,” Conrad told me.

“Let’s get serious,” he added.

Watch my interview here:

--George Stephanopoulos

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