WASHINGTON (AP) - The No. 3 Democrat in the House said Tuesday
he believes Congress and the White House can find a consensus on
tackling the nation's growing indebtedness as long as "a lot of
compassion" is brought to the table.
But Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina told MSNBC that
government safety-net programs like Medicare and Medicaid must not
Clyburn is the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.
Progress can be achieved in deficit negotiations, he said, "if
sacrifices are, in fact, shared." Clyburn also said he thinks
Democrats are willing to give some on entitlement program changes
so long as Republicans show a willingness to work on closing
loopholes in the tax code that benefit the wealthy.
"We have got to come to grips with spending as well as
revenue," he said.
Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services
Committee, said "I do not want there to be a Medicare-only
The Massachusetts Democrat, also interviewed on MSNBC, said he
believes that at a time of U.S. struggles with its national debt
and burgeoning debates about cuts to social and other programs, "I
think the time has come to re-examine NATO" and the financial
contributions that Washington makes to it.
Frank said the alliance was established under President Harry S.
Truman in the late 1940s at a time when Europe needed help and the
United States had the power to stand up to Russia's Josef Stalin.
He said the rationale for heavy American involvement with NATO
isn't the same as when the organization was founded.
"NATO has become an excuse for other countries to get America
to do things," he said. Frank criticized U.S. expenditures on a
missile defense system based in Poland, saying that "we don't need
to protect France against Belarus."
"I think we should make it clear that NATO is a shell of what
it used to be and we shouldn't pretend that NATIO is an entity that
is going to help us," he said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)