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Nebraska's 2012 Republican Senate candidates turned thumbs down Monday on the compromise debt reduction plan agreed to by the White House and congressional leaders.

"I would vote no on this specific bill because Congress needs to pass a balanced budget (constitutional) amendment first," said state Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine.

"I would vote no," State Treasurer Don Stenberg said, citing "no real assurance of future spending cuts" along with the lack of a requirement that the proposed constitutional amendment be submitted to the states.

State Attorney General Jon Bruning said he continues to favor "a required balanced budget amendment, additional cuts and caps on spending."

Spencer Zimmerman of Omaha rejected the proposal for a different reason.

"I oppose any deal that could weaken this country and lead to $350 billion in defense cuts," he said. 

Pat Flynn of Schuyler did not respond to an email seeking his position.

Fischer said she is "relieved that there are significant spending cuts and no tax increases in this deal," but she expressed "serious concerns that Congress will not pass a balanced budget amendment."

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Stenberg said he's concerned about "the high likelihood this (plan) will lead to tax increases" when a special congressional committee recommends the second stage of debt reductions before the end of the year.

"I strongly suspect (its recommendations) will include tax increases and then Congress will face either very substantial cuts in our national defense or a vote for tax increases," he said.

If Congress does not accept the committee's recommendations, that would trigger across-the-board spending cuts that impact both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

Stenberg said he doubts the proposed $2.2 trillion debt reduction plan is large enough to protect the nation's triple-A bond rating.

Bruning said the agreement "does not address the larger issue of reforming how Washington spends our tax dollars and finances its excesses."

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at


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