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Local politics

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Callers tired of spending ‘drama’: Donnelly

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Wednesday he has been hearing from Hoosiers about federal spending cuts that begin taking effect Friday.

“No. 1 is stop the drama, please. Stop the constant last-day legislating,” he said about constituent suggestions during his weekly conference call with reporters.

“No. 2 is we cannot continue to spend what we don’t have,” Donnelly said. “We are in a position where we are asking the Chinese for money to fund our debt and at the same time the Chinese are building an aircraft carrier to compete with us and to challenge servicemen and -women on American aircraft carriers who are from Indiana.”

The Senate is expected to vote today on plans for replacing the automatic spending reductions, which would total $85 billion in the next seven months and $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

Donnelly said he supports his party’s version, which would cut $55 billion, with half coming from the military and half from the elimination of direct subsidy payments to farmers. The legislation includes $55 billion in new revenue by increasing taxes for incomes exceeding $1 million and ending certain tax breaks for oil producers and companies that send jobs overseas.

Even if the 55-member Democratic majority in the Senate could get the required 60 votes to pass the plan – highly unlikely – the Republican-controlled House would certainly reject it.

James Wegmann, communications chief for Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said the plan “is unacceptable because Congressman Stutzman won’t support a tax hike.”

Stutzman said in a statement, “The House has voted twice to replace the sequester with cuts to waste, but the president has refused to budge from his fear campaign for higher taxes.”

Senate Republicans are expected to offer their own sequester replacement legislation today that reportedly would give President Obama a week to propose spending cuts to Congress.

Donnelly said he was in a meeting this week with two dozen other senators, split about equally among Democrats and Republicans, “just talking to one another about the importance of getting this right for America. … Everybody agrees that there has to be a much better way to do this.”

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., was not at the meeting but “has been very, very helpful and vocal in this area,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he wants the military to have more flexibility in future spending cuts.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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