Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, head of the fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that any U.S. debt- cutting proposal that includes a tax increase would be unlikely to gain a majority of the House’s Republicans.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We’re joined by Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Congressman, thank you for being with us.
JIM JORDAN: Good to be here.
HUNT: Supercommittee, you have been involved deeply, as far as what you want and don’t want. Do you think they’ll come up with anything?
JORDAN: You know, it’s anyone’s guess. I mean, one day I think they may. The next day, I think, you know, who knows? And the word is today that they may not - may not get to some kind of agreement.
What I’m most concerned about is, though, is - is we should not have any type of tax increase in this proposal. The last thing we need for our economy is to increase the tax burden on job-creators.
HUNT: Suppose the committee comes back with something like the Toomey proposal, - what would happen in the House? If John Boehner tried to bring that back, what would happen in the House Republican caucus?
JORDAN: I think you’d see - I think you’d see a lot of - a lot of Republicans with problems with that proposal, even though I have a great deal of respect for Pat Toomey and -
HUNT: Right. But that proposal itself, could it - could it muster a majority among House Republicans?
JORDAN: It would be - I think it’d be difficult. Because let’s remember, Al, the - while there’s lots of good things in there, if it’s a net tax increase, this is the most fundamental principle within the Republican Party. This is a sacred trust, I think, we as Republicans have with - with - with voters who put us in office. And, frankly, I think Americans understand the last thing you want to do is increase the tax burden at this point, when we’re trying to get our economy to grow.
HUNT: Well, let me ask this, though. Every group that seems to have looked at it, bipartisan, Simpson-Bowles, Domenici- Rivlin, the Senate Gang of Six, these are all Republicans and Democrats all coming to the same conclusion. You’ve got to do entitlements and revenues.
JORDAN: But we have heard this - I mean, every single - back in the ‘90s, early ‘90s, with the first President Bush, he talked about, well, if you raise taxes now, we promise - we promise we’ll cut for every dollar in tax - we promise we’ll cut $2 in spending. Well, it never materializes. The taxes always get raised, and the spending cuts never happen.
And, in fact, what happened in that situation is they raised the taxes and they increased spending. So the American people - this is the old Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football.
JORDAN: Yeah, the Americans aren’t going to go for this. They say, we are tired of these games. We don’t trust them to come through with the spending cuts.
HUNT: OK, you’re right about the ‘90s. The ‘90s were pretty good times economically.
JORDAN: Much better than now -
HUNT: Well, no, but, I mean, they did - they did increase taxes, but the ‘90s had a great booming economy.
JORDAN: If it’s such a great thing, why didn’t they do it last year? Why now? Oh, we’ve got to raise taxes now? Democrats controlled all of government, just - just 14 months ago.
HUNT: No, but that’s - that’s a very important political point, but what I’m asking is an economic point. Taxes were raised by Bush and by Clinton and the ‘90s were boom times.
JORDAN: One, we didn’t have the huge debt we had now, which I think is an impediment to economic growth. We didn’t have all the ridiculous regulation that’s been piled on by this administration, which is an impediment to economic growth. We didn’t have the lack of common sense in our energy policy, which I think is an impediment to economic - so we didn’t have all those other factors.
And I think it’s also a testimony to the American entrepreneur that, in spite of dumb policies from the government, American small-business owners, American entrepreneurs, the American people, in spite of the policies from government, could still make our economy grow.
But now we’re at a point - now we’re at a point where the politicians have to be smart for a change and not impose additional burdens on the economy and on job-creators and do things the right way. Don’t - here’s the other thing on -
HUNT: Payroll tax holiday is supposed to expire at the end of this year. Should it be extended?
JORDAN: If - if that’s part of a tax package that doesn’t increase the overall burden, I think you could get Republicans to look at it. But it’s about spending. Think about this. This supercommittee can’t even get an agreement on cutting spending of $1.2 trillion over 10 years, in light of the fact that the last three years we have seen record levels of spending increases, unprecedented spending - we had one bill just a couple years ago that almost increased spending $1 trillion in one bill, the stimulus package.
And so the idea that, oh, politicians can’t find $1 trillion over 10 years, where we had one bill that almost spent $1 trillion just two years - it’s ridiculous. It’s all about the spending. And for people to say, well, we’ve got to have tax revenue, that misses the point. It’s about the spending.
HUNT: You say - you say no tax revenue at all, not a single cent.
JORDAN: Of course not.
JORDAN: Ask Americans. Do you think they’re overtaxed or think they need to be taxed more? Americans -
HUNT: Polls actually - polls actually - polls actually show that they want to have a balanced package of the debt. Whether they’re right or wrong, that’s what they want.
JORDAN: If you ask - if you ask the same families, do you want your taxes increased, I bet the polls would show they don’t want their taxes increased.
HUNT: Let me ask you this. If I asked that same family, do you want to have Social Security or a Medicare cutback, what would they say?
JORDAN: They want to save Social Security and Medicare, and you can’t save it if you don’t reform it. That’s -
HUNT: But would they - would that family say they want to cut back Medicare?
JORDAN: If you asked that same family, do you want to save Medicare, a promise we’ve made with our citizens, do you want to save Social Security, and they’re going to say yes, and then in order to save it, we have to change those systems, we have to reform them, or they won’t be there, that promise that’s been made, that contract that’s been made from - with the government and its people will not be there unless we reform and change it.
HUNT: And if I were to ask that same family, if we want to reduce the deficit, we have to increase taxes and have shared sacrifice, wouldn’t they say, well, OK, if it does that?
JORDAN: No, that same family would say, “Cut spending.”
JORDAN: Politicians spend too much money. And they would also say this, Al, if I could. I mean, think about this. Raise taxes now, and we promise - and, remember, this is a promise from - this is not a promise from your wife. This is not a promise from your pastor, your preacher, your priest. This is a promise from politicians. We promise we’ll get to spending cuts - America’s like, we’re sick of that.
HUNT: Do you worry in 2012 that the so-called Bush tax cuts will expire and if you don’t do something now that you’re going to have a huge -
JORDAN: Well, we don’t - obviously don’t want them to expire, but -
HUNT: But you don’t have any leverage, do you?
JORDAN: Well, remember, we kept them in place just a year ago, when Democrats controlled all of government, and we got the president to go along with extending the Bush tax cuts.
HUNT: So you think the president will - will cave on what he’s said on that?
JORDAN: Well, he may not be the president.
HUNT: Well -
JORDAN: There’s going to be an election year -
HUNT: But they expire at the end of 2012.
JORDAN: And in January of 2013, let’s hope - at least I hope - that Republicans maintain control of the House, which I think we will, that Republicans take over the Senate, which I think we can, and that we have a new person in the White House who will be a Republican. And then I’m confident we can extend the Bush tax cuts, which have been in place now - some of those have been in place for 11 years. That is tax policy. We do not want to increase the tax burden.
HUNT: You know Robert Bork, a conservative judge. You have a proposal to - constitutional amendment to cap spending. This is what Judge Bork says. He says, it would result - and I’m quoting Judge Bork - hundreds, maybe thousands of lawsuits based on inconsistent theories and produce inconsistent results. Why turn over critical spending and tax decisions to unelected judges?
JORDAN: Well, we don’t want to do that. But what we do want to do -
HUNT: That’s what Bork says would happen.
JORDAN: Yeah, well, people can disagree. What we don’t want to do is continue to allow government to be a bigger and bigger percentage of our economy. Historically, the federal government has been somewhere between 18 percent and 20 percent of the overall economy. That’s where we want to keep it.
And remember the fundamental principle. The bigger government gets, the tendency is for freedom and liberty to get smaller. So we want to keep government small, so freedom and liberty and - and opportunities for entrepreneurs and families to chase down their goals and dreams, so they can do it. That’s what America’s about.
HUNT: Representative Jim Jordan -
JORDAN: It’s not about a big government.
HUNT: On that note, we’re going to end. Thank you so much for being with us today.
JORDAN: Thank you.
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