Standing 11 days from Debtpocalypse Now, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., thinks that there is no way to get a grand bargain or another big deal through Congress in time to avoid an Aug. 2 default. In a phone interview this afternoon, Casey said the plan first offered by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to stage a couple of short-term debt increases and handing most of the power to the president -- basically absolving Republicans of voting for a debt increase without risking a default -- is his preferred path.
"I think that’s the best way to go," he said. "It gets us to where we need to get to and it does set up a process going forward with a substantial committee that will have the time and the staffing to be able to examine these questions very closely. The problem with what’s going on right now, even with the Gang of Six proposal, is you don’t have a lot of close or thorough examination of very complicated propoals, and it’s a very short time window. In other words, even if you could sketch out a procedural way to get a bigger proposal through, ideally we’d all be better off – both parties would be better off -- if we had time for hearings and debates, tough debates and tough negotiation in order to get this right. And I worry that without that time -- and time is not a year or eight months, the time most people are talking about is 90 days or a couple of months ... we would have had time to examine these issues more closely."
Also, speaking of that Gang of Six, Casey said he is "especially concerned about some major aspects of it," particularly Social Security. The Gang proposes to save money from the popular entitlement program by changing how its cost-of-living raises are calculated. Casey said the plan still needs actual legislative language before he can offer his thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
Casey this morning voted against the GOP's "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan to raise the debt limit with big budget reforms. His Republican counterpart, Sen. Pat Toomey, has come out against both the McConnell and Gang of Six ideas.