The retiring Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said today that one of the factors that would create an opening for big bipartisan things to be achieved in deficit reduction is a House that doesn’t return to Democratic leadership.
“The best chance for this to happen is the president is re-elected, the Senate does not change hands, the House does not change hands and you have all of these things facing us,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. “The expiration of all the Bush tax cuts, the sequester and additional $1.2 trillion of spending cuts. The end of the payroll tax holiday, the alternative minimum tax coming back in force.”
Conrad said he believes that if Mitt Romney wins, “there’s almost certainly very little chance that the grand bargain can be struck.”
“The greatest chance for the grand bargain to be struck is if the president is re-elected. Now this president, you know I was the second one to endorse him,” he added.
The 26-year senator also elaborated on how he came to endorse his Senate colleague back in 2008.
“I was in the Senate gym and he said, ‘Hey, you going to come out and help your pal, or are you just going to sit on the sidelines?’ And, you know, we were pals in the Senate,” Conrad said. “Not close, but you know shared a sense of humor more than anything. And so I said, no I’ll come and help you. Why? Because I thought I saw something special in him.”
Conrad shared Obama’s feelings about the Iraq war, “but he was also somebody that was like-minded fiscally and recognized that deficits and debts are a long-term challenge.”