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October 22, 2013

Coats heads back home, turning to deficit talk

Senator blames debt on 'wildly excessive spending,' unfunded liabilities.

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats returned home to Indiana this week, hoping to turn the political conversation away from a failed GOP strategy that partially shut down the federal government and toward what he sees as more critical issues facing the nation: The $700 billion in deficit spending and a national debt that stands at $16.7 trillion.

In meetings with constituents around central Indiana — and on radio talk shows where he’ll take their questions — Coats is hoping to focus on the next challenge in the nation’s capital: bridging the chasm between congressional Republicans and Democrats to forge a budget deal in time to avoid another shutdown.

“I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about what happened,” Coats said in an interview with the CNHI Statehouse Bureau Tuesday. “That’s history. What I want to spend a lot of time on is what’s forward; what lies out there.”

Coats was one of 27 Senate Republicans who voted to support the plan that ended the 16-day shutdown that was triggered by Tea Party-aligned Republicans’ attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, known as a Obamacare. He’s taken some heat from for that vote, but he’d prefer to talk about the part of the agreement that calls for a budget conference report by Dec. 13, including a plan for tax and spending policies over the next 10 years.

Calling the federal deficit an “unsustainable burden” that’s been created by “wildly excessive spending” and unfunded liabilities tied to entitlement programs, Coats said its incumbent upon Congress to work together to solve the issue.

“It doesn’t take a doctorate in math to understand it’s all going to come down on us, and the longer we postpone it, the worse it’s going to be,” Coats said. “Not only is it irresponsible but it’s immoral.”

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