Michigan Radio spoke with Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin about a wide range of topics on Wednesday - starting with the situation in Egypt.
Levin says Egyptians deserve a democratic government and the U.S. should support their aspirations. Levin is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee . But he says the violent turn of events in Egypt is a bad sign. Levin thinks it best if current President Hosni Mubarak oversees the transition to a new government.
"The more violent and the more sudden his departure is, seems to me, the more likely it is that what will take his place would not be sustainable," says Levin. "If the army has to move in to restore order, that’s not necessarily the best way to move to a democracy."
Thousands of anti-government protestors clashed with supporters of President Mubarak today.
Levin also addressed this afternoon's vote in the Senate to repeal the nation's new health reform law.
It's expected the bill will not pass, since the vote will likely be along party lines, and Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate.
Levin says repeal is out of the question. He says the reform will help millions of Americans get health insurance and avoid bankruptcy because of medical bills. And repeal, he says, would cost $500 billion.
But Levin says Democrats in the Senate are willing to consider bills to improve the law.
"We are open to those kind of changes, but it’s gotta be looked at very carefully one by one as to what is being proposed and what the cost of it is," he says.
A bill has also been proposed to allow states to opt out of the new law. A vote on that bill hasn’t been scheduled.
There are also court challenges to the law, in particular, the provision that requires everyone to buy health insurance.
Michigan Radio also spoke with the Senator about a bill he's proposed that could help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The bill increases the number of tax credits available to people who buy hybrid and electric cars. The $7,500 credits are designed to reduce the cost of buying one of the more expensive cars.
Right now, there are 200,000 of the credits available for each automaker. Levin’s bill would increase the number to 500,000.
"If we need any more evidence that the source of oil from the Middle East is an insecure source, and that the price of oil will jump up and down depending on the level of insecurity, the events in Egypt surely show it," says the Senator.
A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Sander Levin, Carl Levin’s brother.
Senator Levin says the bill could be passed separately, or as part of a comprehensive energy package.