Massachusetts Democratic Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren is vowing to tackle the nation's debt by pushing what she calls a "balanced approach" of spending cuts and higher taxes on the wealthy when she takes office.
Warren, who defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Tuesday's election to become the first woman in Massachusetts elected to the Senate, is preparing for the transition from Harvard Law School to Washington.
Brown said Wednesday that he doesn't know what the future holds after his Senate term ends.
"I'm not sure what comes next for me, except a lot of time back at home with the family come January," Brown wrote to supporters.
Warren greeted commuters outside the Broadway MBTA subway station in the city's South Boston neighborhood Wednesday morning, vowing to do "whatever it takes" to strengthen and rebuild the middle class and working families while tackling the nation's $16 trillion deficit.
"I look at that deficit and I think of about my little grandson," Warren said. "He's two years old. If we don't do something, he's the one who'd going to pay the price."
Warren said agricultural subsidies are among the spending cuts she'd support.
She also said that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the nation should use some of the billions it's been spending on those conflicts to bring down the debt.
Warren also sounded a conciliatory note Wednesday after a campaign that, at times, turned personal.
"Scott Brown was exactly right when he said bipartisanship is important," she said. "It is important and I hear that loud and clear."
In an email to supporters Wednesday, Brown said he couldn't have asked for better allies and friends during the campaign.
"We gave three years of independent representation in the Senate, and that's three years more than some states ever get," Brown wrote.
Brown made no mention in the letter to speculation about his political future.
At the Statehouse, political watchers pointed to two possibilities, including the 2014 gubernatorial contest. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick has said he won't seek re-election, leaving an open race for the state's top political post.
A second, more remote possibility, hinges on whether President Barack Obama taps Democratic Sen. John Kerry to serve as Secretary of State. Current U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has said she hopes to step down during Obama's second term.
Kerry, who has said he's focused on his job as senator, is seen as among the top candidates for the job. If he were to leave, that would prompt a special election to fill his seat. Brown would be considered a top contender if he chose to enter the race.
Patrick, who as governor is required to name an interim senator to fill any vacancy until a special election can be held, said Wednesday he didn't want to speculate, calling Kerry a "terrific senator," but also saying he'd be a "terrific secretary of state."
"I don't have a secret list. This is all wild speculation," Patrick said. "I'm going to wait like everyone else to see what the president decides to do."
Patrick, a strong supporter of Warren's candidacy, was effusive in his praise for the incoming senator.
He said Warren's "opportunity to serve as a leader in the Senate is huge" and said Obama needs courageous leaders like Warren in Congress.
Warren defeated Brown in one of the most expensive and hard-fought Senate contests of the year. The two candidates spent a total of more than $68 million.
Warren received about 54 percent of the votes cast, compared to 46 percent for Brown, who won the seat in a 2010 special election following the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
While he lost the election, Brown will continue representing the state into January.
When he returns to Washington, Brown and other members of Congress will have to grapple with the "fiscal cliff" - a one-two punch of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and major across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs that could total $800 billion next year.
Warren has said she would extend the so-called Bush-era tax cuts that expire on Dec. 31 for middle-income taxpayers, but wants the cuts to expire for those with annual incomes of $250,000 or more.
She also supports the so-called Buffett rule, which would require those earning $1 million a year or more to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. Warren supports the rule.