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Sen. Michael Bennet: I'll Support Tax Deal, but Negotiations Should be More Transparent

Incumbent Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat , left, debates Republican opponent Ken Buck , right, in front of a standing room only crowd, Oct. 7, 2010 at Centennial High School auditorium in Pueblo, Colo.
AP Photo, Chris Mclean/Pueblo Chieftain.

Senate Democrats would prefer if President Obama's tax cut deal with Republicans were more fiscally responsible, but they're willing to hold their noses and vote for it, given the alternatives, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said on "Washington Unplugged" Monday.

"Better to do this deal now than have a worse deal in January," Bennet told CBS News Correspondent Nancy Cordes.

The Senate will take a key procedural vote on the tax cut deal this afternoon, and they'll need at least 60 votes in favor of the deal to overcome a filibuster. The measure, which is estimated to cost nearly $900 billion and is not paid for, is expected to pass in the Senate and then move to the House.

The proposed plan would extend all of the Bush tax cuts -- including those for the wealthiest Americans -- for two years, extend unemployment insurance for 13 months, cut the payroll tax for one year, and re-institute the estate tax at a relatively low rate, among other things.

Many lawmakers and grassroots activists on both sides of the aisle protested after the president unveiled his plan last week. Subsequently, the deal was sweetened to entice more lawmakers with the addition of provisions such as tax credits for alternative energy.

Bennet said he approved of the alternative energy tax credit but that his constituents "don't like what they look at as backroom deals."

"I don't particularly like that either," he added. "We need to be doing these kinds of things in the light of day in public view."

Furthermore, the senator said his constituents are still concerned about the nation's deficit and debt.

He said Washington needs to have a "broader conversation" about its deficits and debt. While Bennet said the president's bipartisan deficit commission gave Congress a good starting point, he said he doesn't expect to see that conversation happen until next summer.

For now, Bennet said his constituents at least "like the idea that for once people in Washington seem to be working together across partisan lines."

If the deal were not passed, he said, "the cruel reality is two million Coloradans would see their taxes go up, and there are a lot of people on unemployment insurance who would lose that."

Watch the full interview above. Today's episode of "Washington Unplugged" also featured interviews with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Grammy award winning artist Annie Lennox. "Washington Unplugged" airs every weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBSNews.com.



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.