June 01, 2012

Idaho Statesman: Crapo, other Senate Republicans, talk about the deficit with Obama in the White House

By Erika Bolstead

WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, who's been involved in negotiations to reduce the deficit with the bipartisan "Group of Six" senators, called a meeting of Senate Republicans and the president a "good, candid and substantive discussion."

Crapo and most of the Republicans in the Senate on Thursday attended the White House meeting, which Crapo said focused on "specific solutions" that could be "helpful to solving debt crisis."

"I thought it was a very good meeting," Crapo said. "Both sides were very candid about their perspectives with regard to how to deal with the debt crisis that we face. We need to get past the historical politics that have stopped us from agreement and find solutions."

Obama had "very much the same message for Senate Republicans that he had for Senate Democrats" earlier in the week, said spokesman Jay Carney. And that's that they "all need to work together to find common ground and to achieve a goal that we all share, which is serious deficit reduction."

"He also made clear that both sides have to give a little and that no one is going to get everything he or she wants," Carney said.

That included discussions on raising the debt ceiling, a contentious vote that's coming this summer. Many Republicans have insisted they won't vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it's accompanied by substantive budget cuts.

Also under consideration are major changes to the tax code. Those changes could lower the tax rate overall, but could also result increases for some people if existing loopholes and tax credits disappear.

"We had a good discussion on revenue, on the fact that this would be an important time, if possible, to reform the tax code," Crapo said. "That's a very complicated thing to do and not everything is or can be tied to a debt limit vote."

Crapo said that the deficit negotiations will continue - and that he'll continue negotiations with the so-called Gang of Six, the bipartisan group of senators working on a deficit reduction proposal. Lots of people are talking, Crapo said, and that's productive.

"I think everything continues," he said. "The Gang of Six continues to negotiate. The Biden group will continue to work. The budget committee in the Senate will continue to operate. The House has already engaged wit its budget. There are senators and House members from both sides of the aisle who have ideas. All of that will continue and we will move forward on every front."