By James Q. Lynch
CEDAR RAPIDS – Republican congressional hopeful Ben Lange wants to see more tax cuts, but “I won’t box myself into a position of being unreasonable” in considering options for balancing the federal budget and reducing debt.
So he has declined to take Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge and he won’t follow the lead of candidates for the GOP presidential nomination who would refuse $10 in spending cuts for $1 in increased tax revenues.
“I think we need a little bit more on the tax cuts side,” Lange told The Gazette Editorial Board Oct. 1.
Lange has told those asking him to take a “no taxes” pledge that although he might agree with their position on federal spending, “I’m not going to sign something that is going to hamper my ability to solve this problem.”
What Lange will say is that he wouldn’t vote for raising the debt ceiling – something Braley has done six times – until there is a deficit reduction strategy is in place.
It’s urgent that Congress adopt a plan to reduce the debt which has topped $1 trillion each year of the Obama administration and this summer surpassed $16 trillion, said Lange, who is challenging Democratic 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley.
“We’re on a path to a fiscal crisis,” he said, laying the blame on both Democrats and Republicans.
He called the Budget Control Act, which may result in $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts if Congress doesn’t approve an alternative, “Chicken Little’s way out of making decisions.”
Braley, who opposed the Budget Control Act, said it hasn’t worked because of Republicans’ refusal to consider revenue increases.
A bipartisan budget commission “failed miserably … because it turned into a hyper-partisan conversation where one of the groups at the table refused to consider any revenues that would help us address the deficit,” he said.
His hope is that regardless of the outcome of the Nov. 6 election, “one of the obstacles to making (compromise) happen – making President Obama a one-term president – will no longer be on the agenda.”
“I’m confident they will be dealing with President Obama for a second term and maybe then they will have the motivation to sit down and say, ‘What can we do?’” Braley said at a Democratic get-out-the-vote rally in southwest Cedar Rapids Monday.
It’s a “significant breakthrough” that some Republicans are refusing Norquist’s no-tax pledge, he said.
Lange is encouraged that support for a balanced budget amendment appears to be growing, even attracting some bipartisan support.
“Heck, you even saw my opponent do a 180 on this,” he said.
Braley has voted against a balanced budget amendment, but during the campaign has come out in support of amending the Constitution to place limits on spending.
Capping federal spending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product GDP is a “practical and sensible solution,” Lange said, “Because it allows the federal government to expand when the economy is growing but requires it to shrink if the economy shrinks.”
A balanced budget amendment is a “make or break issue for the US – not a Democratic or Republican issue.”
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