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Chambliss defends tax stance in budget talks

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss

MARIETTA, Ga. — Sen. Saxby Chambliss defended on Saturday his call for raising more tax money if it comes with spending cuts and gradually pays off debt, a stance that has become harder to hold among other Republicans.

Chambliss used a breakfast meeting with fellow Republicans north of Atlanta to defend comments he made in a recent TV interview, saying he cared more about the country than an anti-tax pledge that he signed years ago with anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist’s Americans For Tax Reform. That remark set off speculation that Chambliss would face a Republican primary challenger when he runs for re-election in 2014.

Chambliss said he would support eliminating some tax deductions and credits if Democrats agreed to spending cuts and overhauls in entitlement programs, including government-funded health care programs. Chambliss said he wants to keep some form of tax deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest. He compared the U.S. debt to a household mortgage.

“Well, that’s a violation of the pledge because I say we’ve got to pay down our mortgage with some of that money,” Chambliss said. “If we don’t pay down our mortgage, guess what happens? The debt keeps going up and up and up.”

Chambliss’ fiscal philosophy has come under scrutiny as Republicans negotiate with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to determine whether the government will avoid a year-end package of tax increases and spending cuts that some fear could throw the economy into recession.

Any tax increase would be deeply unpopular with some in Georgia’s conservative GOP. Just before Chambliss publicly broke with Norquist, a political aide for former GOP gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel said she was considering running for his seat. Conservative radio show host and pundit Erick Erickson announced on air that he was considering calls to challenge Chambliss, though he has since ruled it out. When asked whether he might run, U.S. Rep. Tom Price told a reporter that it was “completely premature” to consider it. He did not rule it out.

“I think that you sent me to Washington to think for myself,” Chambliss said. “And I want to vote the way you want me to vote. I don’t want to be dictated to by anybody in Washington as to how I’m going to vote on anything and when I say I care more about my country more than I do a 20-year-old pledge, I sincerely mean that.”

Chambliss received sustained applause from the roughly 100 people who listened to his remarks. Some strongly backed him. Arthur Gardner, an Atlanta attorney, asked Chambliss if the GOP’s position against raising taxes was hampering its ability to negotiate a long-term agreement to bring down the debt. Gardner said in an interview that he believed the national debt was a greater financial threat than the extra taxes he would pay under a Chambliss-style plan.

“It’s playing a big role in it, no question about it,” Chambliss said, noting that opposition to tax increases was strongest in the House of Representatives. “A lot of those guys are just firm in that and being somewhat inflexible.”

Despite supporters like Gardner, Chambliss may still face political problems.

Just before he took the podium, the head of the Cobb County Republicans warned the audience against compromise with Democrats. Drew Holley, 27, of Kennesaw said he would support a more conservative GOP candidate in a primary against Chambliss. He accused Chambliss of campaigning as a supporter of small-government but not voting that way in Congress.

“His rhetoric doesn’t match his actions,” Holley said.

Comments

chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

We both know that a tax increase will not pay off the deficit nor spending cuts. When you attempt the cuts, it steps on toes and it goes away. They could begin by cutting out vacations, inauguration parties, because he is already in office, nothing to celebrate. I have seen Obama use Camp David one time. Of course I would rather go to Hawaii, but that could be off the table too. There are many ways to cut taxes, but they do not care. It is not their money. The rich are already paying more than their fair share, the Democrats do not want you to think they are. And the dummies in America fall for this BS. How much are college students paying? Not their fair share. Borrowing trillions of dollars they never expect to pay back for a BS degree in something that they will never get a job using.

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Jimboob 1 year, 8 months ago

At one time the upper tax rates were over 90%. There were still rich people. We had very little debt and almost full employment. Now my tax rates are higher than Mitt Romney's and jobs are hard to come by. And good jobs with benefits and retirement are even harder. Taxes must go up... Especially for the top 2%.

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DRTexas 1 year, 8 months ago

Taxes were NEVER at 90% for any income group in the US. They may need to go up some, but not without serious cuts in entitlements and discretionary spending.

Your taxes are based on earned income. Romney's are on investment income. The rates are different due to the different categories. Be careful what you ask for. When you start collecting your retirement or 401K, your tax rate will be the same as Romney's. The big difference is Romney paid as much taxes in a year as you will earn in ten years.

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Jimboob 1 year, 8 months ago

"When the republican Eisenhower was president the rate was at 70% for the top rates. he raised it to 90% though because he wanted to pay for things like the interstates which he got constructed. he said that the rich became that way because of our countrys gifts so he said they should bear the burden. . Nixon was the first presdient to start the lowering of the top tax rate in the sixties." Taken from Google search on tax rates in the '50s.

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reb_arty1863 1 year, 8 months ago

Once again Chambliss has demonstrated that his word is no good. He pledged his word and now says that was a long time ago, and wishes to RENIG on it. Giving your word has no expiration date on it that I am aware of. He is a man, no scratch that, he is a person of no character or honor. This piece of work needs replacement. H--- at least with Cleland we knew we had a consistent liberal. Saxby is like a football. You throw his lying a-- in the air, you do not know which way he will bounce. Come on Saxby poo, just join the Democratic party and be done with it. They welcome people of no character.

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blacksheep 1 year, 8 months ago

Wow... Saxby's a liberal now. Just when I thought the world couldn't get any weirder.

And what's a "RENIG?" Way clever. Homeskooled, no doubt.

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DRTexas 1 year, 8 months ago

At some point, we must be pragmatic about the solutions and negotiations to those solutions. Both sides are going to have to give a little. Chambliss realizes that the children on the left, and those on the right will not accomplish a thing by having temper tantrums or holding their breath til they turn blue. You, on the far right, and Blacksheep, on the far left, need to let the grown-ups handle this. We make up the 70% of this country, and We are tired of listening to you bicker like children.

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