U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who is not seeking reelection for the first time in 36 years, said he’s not certain what will happen when Congress returns to Washington this week.
An extension of the Bush tax cuts that expire at the end of this year seem to be toward the top of the agenda for both Democrats and Republicans seeking reelection. However, there’s no agreement over whether they should be extended for everyone even the wealthiest or those making up to $250,000.
“There doesn’t seem to be any consensus around this,” Dodd said Sunday after a speech to the World Youth Peace Summit. “I happen to believe in tax cuts for those making $250,000 which is the cut off, but you can even make it higher in my view.”
Connecticut’s Junior Senator Joseph Lieberman told a group of business leaders last week that he wants to extend the tax cuts for everyone.
“I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through,“ Lieberman said. “The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be. And that means I will do everything I can to make sure Congress extends the so-called Bush tax cuts for another year and takes action to prevent the estate tax from rising back to where it was.”
“I have a hard time accepting the notion that we ought to sustain the tax cuts for what is it two percent or less than two percent of the population when the revenues lost by that are in the billions of dollars,” Dodd said Sunday.
He acknowledged that it wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last time the two disagree on something.
“My view is if we’re serious about deficit reduction we not only have to reduce spending in certain areas, but you also have to increase revenues or you’re not going to solve the problem,” Dodd said.
Dodd, who was down in the polls when he decided not to seek reelection back in January, said he would do what he could to help the five members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation get reelected.
“If I can help in some way I’d be happy too,” Dodd said. “But I suspect that given the circumstances, I may not be the most—at the top of the list.”
Does it hurt Connecticut’s Congressional delegation running for reelection to be back in Washington this week?
In 1976 during his freshmen year in Congress, Dodd said he joined a group of freshmen who went to see then Speaker of the House Carl Albert to beg him to let them go home to campaign. He said they did get out and spent six weeks in their districts and afterwards found that spending six weeks on the campaign trail “wasn’t the brightest idea in some cases.”
“We didn’t ask for it again,” Dodd quipped.
“Many of them feel the national debate is not helping people that they rather get back and talk about what they’ve done, what they care about to their constituency and I agree with that,” Dodd said. “So I think we’re going to probably adjourn in the next week or two. …I’m sympathetic to people who want to get home and want to talk to their constituents about the future and what they plan to do for them. So I agree with those who’d like to see the session end.”
And before Dodd’s term is up at the end of the year, he would like to see President Barack Obama nominate someone to head the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Last week Obama appointed Elizabeth Warren to serve as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but he did not nominate her to run the new agency.
“I like a Elizabeth a lot,” Dodd said. “My only issue is I want to make sure someone’s confirmable.”
Even after the November election in the lame duck session Dodd said he would like to see President Obama nominate someone to run the new consumer bureau.
“I have no idea who they have in mind at this point at all. They haven’t asked me,“ Dodd said.
While there was a lot of uncertainty Sunday, what was certain is that the Banking Committee Dodd chairs will hold a public hearing this Tuesday to discuss the need to invest more heavily in the nation’s infrastructure.
“A significant investment in our ailing national infrastructure will create jobs, boost long-term economic growth, and improve safety,” said Dodd. “With a National Infrastructure Bank we could leverage state, local, and private funds to ensure our infrastructure systems are equipped to meet the demands of the 21st Century.”
In the past Dodd has suggested using the TARP money paid back by the banks to start a National Infrastructure Bank. The plan also embraces the White House’s proposal last week to invest $50 billion in infrastructure.