Fiscal cliff: Republican Rooney willing to budge on taxes if Democrats move on spendingby George Bennett | November 28th, 2012
That’s a pretty big “if” for Rooney. So far, he says he hasn’t seen evidence that Democrats are willing to commit to serious spending cuts.
Rooney’s position is in line with House Speaker John Boehner, who has suggested raising tax revenue via the loophole route while opposing an increase in income tax rates as favored by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.
Rooney is one of 238 House members and 41 Senators (all but three of them Republicans) who signed Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist‘s pledge not to raise taxes. Signers promised not only to oppose tax rate increases but to “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
Asked if he considers raising revenue through tightening loopholes a violation of the Norquist pledge, Rooney said, “I don’t think that it is….Quite frankly, I don’t care. The bottom line is that our country is in trouble.”
Regardless of the pledge, Rooney said closing loopholes amounts to a tax hike on the wealthy that Obama and Democrats want.
“The loopholes and deductions are going to hit the upper incomes disproportionately more so it is a tax increase on the so-called wealthy,” Rooney said.
But before he’d vote for any kind of tax increase, Rooney said Democrats must make concessions.
“The loopholes and everything else, that’s a good starting point for compromise if they are willing to compromise on entitlements,” Rooney said.
“What are the Democrats willing to do for the real drivers of the debt, and that’s Social Security and Medicare. What are they willing to do to preserve them over the long term?…We’re willing to kind of negotiate and make sacrifices that we wouldn’t normally do, but you’ve got to make sacrifices as well,” Rooney said.