WASHINGTON — A retiring US senator has some advice for both political parties: The lone way to get rid of sequestration is to accept a deal neither would like very much.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has been part of "gangs" formed to craft bipartisan fiscal plans. The latest was the so-called "gang of six," which served up a massive deficit-reduction plan in 2011 that went nowhere on Capitol Hill.
And in his final days as a senator, Chambliss says he's hopeful that the Republican-controlled 114th Congress will "say, 'OK, guys, we have got to get serious about this."
"And if they're going to get serious about it, it's not rocket science. It's what it is going to take to solve this issue of this debt," Chambliss said this week in an interview with PBS. "You do have to cut spending. You have got to reform entitlements and you have got to increase revenues through changing the tax code."
That is the kind of package put forth earlier this decade by the "gang of six" and several high-profile groups, all of which featured prominent Republican and Democratic figures.
Unless Congress acts to blunt sequestration's impact, annual Pentagon budgets are set to be cut via an across-the-board method neither party likes by at least $40 billion each year.
Chambliss offered some blunt advice to lawmakers, a smattering of whom said before the 113th Congress adjourned they want to seek some kind of budget deal that would address defense sequestration.
"You just simply can't do one, which we have tried with sequestration just to cut spending. It doesn't work," he said, a statement that likely will rile some of his conservative GOP mates.
"You can't do it by raising taxes," he said, a comment that likely will rile some Democrats.
To the veteran lawmaker, a sequester-address package must "have a combination of those three items."
Chambliss struck a bipartisan tone when describing the kind of plan he believes lawmakers should pursue this year.
"We can increase revenues without raising taxes through major reforms of the tax code," he said. "I really hope that the next majority in Congress is going to take this serious and they're going to move forward with the foundation, frankly, that the 'gang of six' laid."