The hot topic on most newscasts this week has been the debate and negotiations surrounding the national debt limit. The debate has been unapologetically partisan: one side wants to spend, the other wants to save, and neither side is willing to give any ground to the other. A twist to the debate has come from some conservatives, like Arizona’s Representative Jeff Flake, who have stated their refusal to agree to any increases that do not also pass a constitutional amendment requiring the national budget be balanced each year. Representative Flake talked with NPR’s Robert Siegel on Friday about the debt limit negotiations.
In the interview, Flake said not including a balanced budget amendment in a potential debt bill was a deal breaker. “We’ve got to have some mechanism for the long term to make sure that we don’t get in this situation again or in perpetuity,” he said. “It seems that we’re here every couple of years with more frequency now because we’re spending at a faster rate.” Representative Flake suggested reducing spending and closing tax loopholes as a possible solution to balancing the budget now.
Though the debate has been ugly in the press, Flake also noted improvements in the way Congress negotiates on important issues. Without earmarks, he points out, “there isn’t the ability of a speaker or others to promise goodies. A negotiation like that that happened yesterday would have lest us a couple of billion dollars poorer. But not yesterday. I mean, a couple of stale pieces of pizza and you’re there.”
Representative Flake is running for Senate in 2012. He hopes to replace retiring Senator John Kyl.