Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills is attacking DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a vote that Bills said could lead the country to an economic fiscal cliff. Bills said Klobuchar should have played a larger role in working out a budget deal
Bills is opposing Klobuchar for U.S. Senate and polls show Klobuchar with a double-digit lead over Bills. Concerned that the nation faces a severe recession next year, Bills said Klobuchar is partly to blame by supporting the Budget Control Act.
"You had to know that that was going to happen and that without a fix that's what you were backing," Bills said.
That budget deal was worked out by President Barack Obama, Senate Democrats and House Republicans will dramatically raise taxes and cut government spending across the board on Jan. 1 if another compromise is not reached before then. Bills said Klobuchar, who voted for the deal, should be held accountable if the tax hikes and spending cuts go into effect.
The deal reached last summer came after House Republicans balked at raising the debt ceiling. The idea was the tax increases and spending cuts would be so painful and damaging to the economy that Congress and the president would have to reach a deal to reduce the deficit and avoid what's called the fiscal cliff. But no deal has yet been reached.
Bills has called for dramatic budget cuts to help reduce the federal deficit, but he said the fiscal cliff cuts would be like using a hatchet instead of a scalpel. Bills has been trying to link the slow economy and the budget mess to Klobuchar. But with little campaign money, he's been unable to run television ads. Even so, Bills said he believes he still has a chance to win.
"I believe that with an economy like this, no one is safe," he said.
Bills and his campaign team have blamed the media for not asking Klobuchar tough questions. His campaign manager issued press releases in recent weeks calling Klobuchar "Daddy's little girl" and a "prom queen." Bills said he did not approve those statements before they were issued and has asked his campaign to be more respectful. But Bills is not backing off his belief that Klobuchar should be more aggressive in fixing the deficit. He said she should be in private meetings with other senators to work out a budget deal.
"Maybe the group of eight should have been the group of nine. Right now these senators are still trying to work on a solution," Bill said. "Why didn't Amy Klobuchar put herself in that situation?"
Klobuchar was unavailable for an interview but her campaign spokesman issued a written statement saying Klobuchar's goal is to negotiate how to cut $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years and avoid the fiscal cliff.
"The Senator's goal is to negotiate how those cuts will be made over the next ten years instead of having them made automatically," said Klobuchar campaign manager Linden Zakula. "She believes that we should stay and negotiate as long as it takes to come up with a solution that is best for the economy."
• Follow Tom Scheck on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomscheck