CBS NewsChannel 5's Rylee DeGood talked with Senator John Barrasso on why he voted yes on the Fiscal Cliff deal and what's next for Congress.
Rylee - "You voted yes to pass the Fiscal Cliff deal even though you've criticized it in the past, why did you vote that way?"
Sen. Barrasso - "I though it was important to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for at least 99% of all Americans. And all around Wyoming I heard so much from farmers and ranchers and small business owners about the Death Tax and the impact on them. They were going to start taxing those folks at anything in their business or farm or ranch at anything over a million dollars. Now it won't go into affect until over five million dollars. In Wyoming that is a big deal for our farmers and ranchers and small business owners."
Rylee - "Republicans really wanted to see spending cuts in the deal, but now those won't be talked about for another two months. What do you have to say about that?"
Sen. Barrasso - "I'm talking about it everyday. On January 1st taxes were going to go up for all Americans if nothing was passed. But the President is now coming back to Congress and asking to raise the debt ceiling. The President has asked for a blank check. He's maxed out his last credit car and now he wants more. He is just not going to get that unless he agrees to specific spending cuts. You gotta face it Rylee, 10,000 Americans turned 65 today, 10,000 will tomorrow, 10,000 did yesterday and we need to save and protect Medicare and Social Security for future generations. And we have to take the reforms needed to make sure those programs stay strong."
Rylee - "What specific spending cuts are you talking about?"
Sen. Barrasso - "We're talking about a couple things. Reforming the tax code. Trying to make it easier for people to work so you have more taxpayers, rather than just raising tax rates, which the President always talks about doing. I think that's an important part of it. The other is we have to take a look at Medicare and Medicade and Social Security and see ways that those are strengthened and protected. There are a lot of different talks about how to do it, whether its the cost of living allowance in the future and a fair way to access that. Also, people of significant means in terms of sharing the cost of Medicare in a way that they're not doing it now. Those are things that I think will make a difference."
Rylee - "Let's talk about the debt ceiling. We've already reached the 16.394 trillion dollar limit and now the President is wanting that raised once again. Is Congress going to do it?"
Sen. Barrasso - "The President has asked for it and says that he doesn't want to debate it again. But I'll tell you the things that are coming due, are the things he has proposed. It's his healthcare law and I tell you this as a doctor, it's unworkable, it's unpopular and it's unaffordable for us as a nation. Also, his so called stimulus package, which was suppose to help the economy so significantly that failed. So the President, this is his spending. He is addicted to spending, he and his administration. And he doesn't do the math. He claims if we raise taxes on certain people then it will be enough to solve the problem. It's a very irresponsible way to try to explain it and it only covers about seven days of the year worth of spending. So the President has to be true when he talks to the American people about what's happening with the spending and entitlements. To me it's nationally important for all of us as a nation to face up to the reality of the spending and say 'How can we stay a strong and resilient nation if we have this kind of debt? And the debt continues to grow. We're borrowing almost 4 cents to every dollar we spend and a lot of it from China."
Rylee - "Many say the Democrats won in this deal. Tax hikes for the wealthy. No spending cuts. What do you say?"
Sen. Barrasso - "If nothing were passed on January 1st, everyone's taxes would go up. What we did was made permanent the Bush tax cuts for 99% of all Americans. So they now know they don't have to go year to year. Even why Bush was President they couldn't make those permanent. The other part of this that I think is very important for Wyoming is the Death tax component that impacts our ranchers, farmers and small business owners. It's a big deal to have the line set at only estates over five million instead of one million, which it was going to be on January 1st had nothing passed."