House GOP frosh hold Boehner’s feet to fire in debt talks 

Over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, backed away from negotiating a larger, long-term budget deal in exchange for raising the debt limit because President Barack Obama was insisting on massive tax increases as part of the package.

Whether or not Boehner wants to strike such an agreement with Obama is secondary to whether he has the votes to do so. And if a Monday temperature reading of some of the 84-member-strong House GOP freshman class is any indication, Boehner would encounter stiff resistance among his own members if he struck a deal with Obama to raise taxes, especially without fundamental spending reforms.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said he would back a deal along the lines that Boehner proposed Monday — $2 trillion in spending cuts in exchange for a $2 trillion hike in the debt ceiling. But he said tax increases could not be part of the equation.

“We have to cut as much spending as we can as quickly as we can,” Pompeo said. “And the notion of increasing the tax burden on anyone in America when the economy is on its knees is just ridiculous.”

Pompeo also said he wanted to see the spending cuts front-loaded so future Congresses can’t simply renege on them.

While he said he would want to close loopholes as part of a broader tax reform effort that kept rates down, he said he didn’t believe in targeting a few loopholes in a way that would be choosing winners and losers, such as corporate jet
owners.

A spokesman for Rep. Allen West said the Florida Republican would only vote to raise the debt limit if Congress passed a balanced-budget amendment, capped federal spending at 18 to 20 percent of gross domestic product and lowered the corporate tax rate by at least 10 percent.

“No tax increases, because it has been proven that tax increases hinder the economy and prevent job growth, and prevent small businesses and corporations from hiring,” West’s spokesman, Angela Sachitano, said.

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., said the only way he would vote to raise the debt limit would be if any deal included fundamental reforms, such as passing a balanced-budget amendment or making changes to the major entitlement programs along the lines of those proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Rokita explained some of the ways he would be willing to support a compromise. He said he would be open to discussing eliminating tax loopholes if politically necessary to get an agreement that included the fundamental changes he seeks.

And he also said he would be willing to support a balanced-budget amendment that did not include a provision requiring a two-thirds majority for tax increases. Instead, he said he would be happy to pass the amendment, and have the fight over raising taxes if and when Democrats propose it.

One way or another, though, fundamental reforms would have to be part of the equation.

“The president owns the economy,” Rokita said. “He’s asking us a favor. And I refuse to let him ask me for five more while he’s asking for that. Like ‘no strings attached’ or ‘there has to be tax increases.’”

Philip Klein is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner.

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