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Gang of 32: Murphy leads bipartisan group of House freshmen calling for deficit reduction

by George Bennett | February 14th, 2013

Saying they are “committed to a new era in Congress where bipartisan solutions are the norm,” newly elected U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and 31 other freshmen from both parties joined today to endorse a bipartisan statement of principles on reducing the deficit.

Murphy and Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., organized the group, which includes 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

Other Florida House members in the group include Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia and Republican Reps. Ted Yoho and Trey Radel.

The House newcomers fault their elders for failing to come up with a long-term fiscal solution.

“In recent years, Congress has lacked the political will to come together and find solutions. The freshman members of the 113th Congress believe now is the time to work together. We call upon leadership to no longer accept piecemeal solutions and to work toward finding long-term solutions to avoid financial collapse like Greece and other European countries,” the group’s statement says.

The specifics advocated by the group are carefully worded to appeal, at least initially, to both parties. On taxes, for instance, the freshmen call for “a fair and broad tax plan including eliminating excessive corporate subsidies, tax loopholes and other subsidies to provide lower rates, that will encourage a pro-growth economy, providing added revenue for the federal budget.”

Eliminating loopholes to lower tax rates has been endorsed by many figures in both parties as a broad concept. Left unsaid by the bipartisan group is whether such a tradeoff should be “revenue-neutral,” meaning the revenue gained by closing loopholes would be offset, dollar or dollar, by revenue lost from reduced rates.

Republicans have insisted on revenue-neutral tax reform while many Democrats have advocated using tax changes to produce a net revenue gain.

The bipartisan group also calls for cutting spending “while seeking to protect the programs that are crucial to our future health as a nation.”

Such details would be worked out in negotiations, with the freshman group pledging to deal in good faith.

“We are dedicated to working with leadership to help bring these solutions to reality. The common good of the country demands good faith negotiation, compromise, and immediate and significant action,” the group’s statement says.

Read the full statement of principles after the jump…

Statement signed by 32 House freshmen from both parties:

The 113th Congress House Republican and Democratic new members are troubled by the fiscal crisis facing the country, with burdensome debt and trillion dollar annual deficits, which affect economic growth for all and healthcare assurances for our seniors. Members of our class implore the President and Congress to address this serious challenge now. In recent years, Congress has lacked the political will to come together and find solutions. The freshman members of the 113th Congress believe now is the time to work together.

We call upon leadership to no longer accept piecemeal solutions and to work toward finding long-term solutions to avoid financial collapse like Greece and other European countries. The bi-partisan freshmen members, as noted below, come to the table with mutual understanding and without personal agendas or political gamesmanship.

We affirm the following actions to secure the fiscal health of our nation:

• Strengthen and Preserve Medicare and Social Security – While protecting current recipients and seniors, we must reform the Medicare and Social Security’s long-term financial obligations by addressing rising health care costs and changing demographics. The goal is to make sure these essential programs meet our obligations to our seniors and ensure that these bedrocks are available to future generations, while reducing our long-term deficit and debt issues.
• Promote economic growth to generate revenue – Of critical importance is a fair and broad tax plan including eliminating excessive corporate subsidies, tax loopholes and other subsidies to provide lower rates, that will encourage a pro-growth economy, providing added revenue for the federal budget. We must also encourage innovation with less stringent regulation to help small businesses grow, which will lower unemployment.
• Cutting spending – While some spending cuts have already been made, we must look for additional savings moving forward to further reduce spending, while seeking to protect the programs that are crucial to our future health as a nation.
• Identify efficiencies and consolidations – Restructure and consolidate agencies and departments, eliminating duplication and waste.
• Medicaid fraud – Aggressively pursue Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse.

We believe that a bipartisan effort encompassing these needed reforms will yield a prosperous future for our country, while making good to today’s seniors who are counting on the federal government to fulfill its obligations. We are committed to a new era in Congress where bipartisan solutions are the norm. We are dedicated to working with leadership to help bring these solutions to reality. The common good of the country demands good faith negotiation, compromise, and immediate and significant action.

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