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McCaskill joins GOP on spending cuts bill

From NBC's Ken Strickland
Senate Republicans sponsoring a bill that would make dramatic cuts in spending - including caps on Social Security - were joined Tuesday by an atypical ally: a Democrat.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., accompanied by Sen. Claire McCaskill,D-Mo., gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.

 Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.,introduced the bill along with chief co-sponsor Bob Corker and other Senate Republicans.

"I will try to be as obnoxious as possible trying to get more Democrats to join this cause," McCaskill said. "It's a little lonely right now, but I'm convinced there's merit in this proposal that is reasonable."

McCaskill is up for re-election in 2012 in what's expected to be a close race.

The bill would put caps on all spending, including mandatory spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, gradually reducing it from the current percentage of the gross domestic product from the current 24.7 to the 40-year historical level of 20.6 percent.

If Congress fails to meet those caps, the bill would authorize the White House's Office of Management and Budget to make cuts throughout the budget to reach the prescribed levels. The cuts could only be skirted by a two-thirds vote on both the House and Senate.

"If we don't [make the required spending cuts] OMB does the job for us, which I think will be very, very painful," said Corker.

McCaskill predicted on Tuesday that she may catch flak for backing the Republican bill.

"I know this is going to be controversial,” she said. “And I know there's a real political risk here because I guarantee you in Missiouri--in the not too distant future--there'll be a 30 second commercial saying I'm trying to take Social Security away from seniors. Just the opposite. I'm trying to make sure Social Security remains."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid didn’t dispute that forecast today.

Asked about the Corker/McCaskill bill at a news conference, Reid said, "I will do everything that I can in throwing my legislative body in front of any efforts to weaken Social Security," he said. "People should leave Social Security alone."