BOSTON — Preparing to join a Congress that will be almost as divided by partisanship as it is now, Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren yesterday said she would look first to farm subsidies and defense spending to help reduce the deficit, but said new revenue must be part of the “fiscal cliff” fix.
“We’re facing a $16 trillion deficit. I look at that deficit and I think of my little grandson who is two 2 years old. If we don’t do something, he’s the one that’s going to pay the price,” Warren told reporters in South Boston.
Asked where she might be willing to accept federal spending cuts, Warren said, “Agriculture subsidies. Also, we quit one war. We’re winding out of Iraq. That’s $2 billion a week that we can use to pay down our deficit to spend here at home, so we got two right off the top.”
The morning after her election, Warren returned to the place where she launched her campaign last September. At the Broadway T station in South Boston, she thanked voters and was greeted warmly by a number of commuters and union members who rallied to her side in Tuesday’s election.
According to unofficial vote totals, Warren was holding on to an eight-point lead over Republican Sen. Scott Brown with a number of precincts around the state still unreported. She won over 1.63 million votes, or 54 percent, to become the first woman elected from Massachusetts to the Senate.
For the next two months, Brown said he will continue to represent the people of Massachusetts in Congress, which is gearing up for a lame-duck session next Tuesday and potential negotiations over how to deal with expiring tax breaks and automatically triggered spending cuts scheduled for January. Sen. John Kerry was planning to return to Washington today to prepare for the return to session after speaking at Warren’s victory rally in Boston Tuesday.
Unless a deal on the so-called “fiscal cliff” can be reached by the House, Senate and White House over the next two months, Warren could be faced immediately with decisions about how to tackle the nation’s $16 trillion federal deficit. “We got to do it, and we got to do it now. We have to cut spending and we have to raise revenues. We have to say those who’ve made it big have to pay a fair share. That’s what it takes to get out of this hole,” Warren said.
Coping with a slow-growing economy that has produced tax collections $256 million below projections over the first four months of the fiscal year, Patrick administration officials are contemplating mid-year budget cuts to agencies, programs and services. Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez last week said uncertainty over where and how deep Congress will cut spending has contributed to the sluggish growth of the economy.
Warren said Brown was “exactly right” when he talked on the campaign trail about the need for bipartisanship and said she would work with any member of Congress willing to fight for the middle class.
“Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, contrarian, it doesn’t matter,” Warren said. The Democrat said she last spoke on Sunday with President Barack Obama, who defeated former Gov. Mitt Romney on Tuesday to win a second term, but the two had not connected since their victories.