8 questions on budget deal with Sen. Amy Klobuchar - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

8 questions on budget deal with Sen. Amy Klobuchar

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(KMSP) -

FOX 9's Tom Lyden had a chance to catch up with Sen. Amy Klobuchar between the announcement of a budget deal and Wednesday's evening's anticipated vote.

Do you believe Speaker Boehner has the votes for this?

I think he has to have the votes. The Senate is going to show strong bipartisan support for this agreement.

It really came out of a group of six Democrats, six Republicans – I was one of them – that said, "Enough of this, we have to find common ground."

We were already seeing issues in the stock market, the government was closed down, so we came together with a pretty smart plan. We just said let's pay our bills, let's open the government and let's give a time period where we can actually negotiate a budget so we stop lurching from financial crisis to financial crisis.

The deal as it stands right now is so bare-bones, some people in America may be wondering: Why did this take so long?

The reason it took so long is people kept trying to put things in it that were more partisan in nature. One of the best things coming out of this is -- subtle as it may be -- we have been waiting to try to get those budgets into a conference committee.

The Senate has passed a budget. The House has passed a budget. We have to be able to get them in a conference so we can try to work out the differences and then we can have a longer-term plan for the finances of this country.

Have we just kicked the can down the road to December?

If you look at the polls and you just talk to people on the street, those people who have been such obstructionists better be listening. They have had it. The American people have had it with this. I think that's going to help push people to a deal. I think moderate Republicans are going to make a big difference here.

In mid-January, another round of these sequestration cuts come into place. That's over $20 billion on things like Alzheimer's research, cancer research. While we can still keep those debt reduction numbers in place, there are other ways we can do this – with reform, with revenue – other things we can do that are smarter. I think that is also going to drive people in Washington to find common ground.

The one thing that looks like it is absent from this deal is rescinding the medical device tax. Did that get lost in the shuffle?

No. We really pushed to try to get it as part of this, but at the same time knowing that the best place for it would be in longer-term budget negotiations. Sen. Hatch and I have led this effort and we actually feel good coming out of this for one reason: this used to be a thing that nobody talked about, and we have gained so much momentum over the last year. Now it's time to actually put it into law. The way we do that is by negotiating with people that aren't as crazy about this to try to pay for the repeal and get it done.

Some may feel the Democrats didn't compromise much on this deal, if at all. What would you say to that?

First of all, you won't see votes from some of the Tea Party, but what you will see is votes from moderate Republicans. I think they joined here with Democrats to say "we have to get through this crisis but we want to do something bigger," and the way we do it is in this next three months so that we can get a longer-term budget deal.

I'll also say this wasn't the time to have major policy changes on birth control and some of these things that people were proposing. Our job here was to keep the government open to make sure we were paying off our debts and to make sure that we have a plan going forward.

Now it is time that we move ahead and do something bigger and longer term. The only way you can do that is when you have the government back open so people can actually work on it and you put a deadline in place to get it done.

Incumbents seem to win. It doesn't look like the Tea Party members are at risk of losing their seats. Is the political system itself broken?

There are some huge problems in the House. But this is how I see making it work in the short-term.

You have a number of Republicans in the Senate that have come together to work with Democrats – those moderate Republicans are ready to go. You get a big vote on a budget deal in the Senate – something like what we saw with the farm bill and immigration. So they come together, then you go to the House.

This may be the moment when Speaker Boehner needs to say, "I'm going to get a combined vote of Democrats and half my caucus -- I know I'm not going to get the Tea Party people."

You combine those votes and you're able to do something really good for this country.

I think there would be a lot of support for that kind of thing in Minnesota because we know we've got to get our budget in order, we know we've got to reduce this debt, but at the same time we want to do it in a way that doesn't set our economy back by causing a shelf contraction.

How important are women in the mix of voting groups and coalitions in Congress?

You look at our group of 12 that really formed the foundation for this deal today, half of them are women. I was pulled together by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – in fact, she was supposed to be with me in Minnesota working on Alzheimer's issues. These are real friendships between the women in the Senate – relationships of trust. That can make all the difference.

I just had all 20 of them over to my apartment in Washington, D.C. for a potluck dinner, in a Minnesota fashion.

We are friends, and that is how Washington used to be. That's how it should be. That's how we're going to try to get this done across the aisle.

Fitch put U.S. Treasury bonds on Rating Watch Negative. To some extent, has the damage really been done here?

Not like is was back in August of 2011 when we saw the Dow go down 2,000 points, over $2 trillion lost in household wealth.

There's been damage, there's no doubt. The rest of the world is watching this. Other countries' leaders have been mocking us. There is damage, but we haven't got to that damage that we saw either during the downturn or during the last debt debacle.

I'm hopeful that we will be able to come out of this, but the next three months are critical to this country so we can show the rest of the world that we are the greatest country in the world, that we are the greatest democracy, that we can make this system work.

Minnesota, with 5.1 percent unemployment, is doing a lot better than the rest of the country. We stand to gain so much by some steady polices in Washington that don't lead us careening from one crisis to the next. That's what I want to see in the next few months in addition to passing the Farm Bill.

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