Sen. Saxby Chambliss made national news Wednesday when he told television station WMAZ in Macon that solving the country’s fiscal problems may include raising taxes.
The Georgia Republican is just one of many members of Congress representing the state that have signed conservative Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. The list also includes Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, who currently represents the 9th District, and Rep.-elect Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who will be representing the newly drawn U.S. House 9th District starting in January.
With the presidential election decided and the “fiscal cliff” approaching, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are signaling they are ready to accept some new tax revenue and spending cuts. Meanwhile, members are still signing pledges.
“There’s a lot of fault to go around with both parties,” said Douglas Young, professor of political science and history at Gainesville State College.
Collins ran for Congress to reduce the country’s current debt and to protect future generations from crippling debt, said Loree Anne Thompson, spokeswoman for Collins.
“He continues to believe we can solve this problem by implementing significant spending reductions across the board and allowing American taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money,” she said.
The fiscal cliff, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, sprung out of failed debt ceiling talks in 2011 when Congressional Democrats refused to compromise on entitlement spending and Republicans refused to compromise on tax increases. The automatic cuts were intended to motivate Congress to reach a compromise.
“Just increasing taxes, that will solve nothing,” Young said. “There’s no chance of balancing the budget without serious spending cuts.”
Chambliss said in the interview he is opposed to raising taxes but is in favor of using revenue saved from closing tax loopholes and eliminating tax credits to pay down the federal debt.
“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” Chambliss said Wednesday night. “If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
The automatic cuts, reducing defense and social welfare spending, are scheduled to take effect in January.