On ABC News’ Top Line today, we told Republican Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma about the deficit-reduction proposal leaked by Democrats on the secretive “super committee” and he wasn’t impressed.
“It sounds like the deal they floated in July that was shut down,” said Lankford, who does not sit on the bipartisan group that is searching for a way to chip away at the long-term deficit problems.
If the bipartisan committee fails, steep cuts opposed by both parties that would hurt defense and social programs will kick in later this year. “It sounds good to say we’re in a reduction, but sounds like the exact same deal that was floated before that’s already been shut down,” he said.
Read more about the Democrats’ proposal for $3 trillion in deficit reduction with $1.3 trillion in increased revenue – taxes – in the coming 10 years.
“I don’t think it’s a serious proposal,” Lankford said. “I’m glad to see it come to the table, but i think it’s a red herring coming out for a conversation point. We’ll see the real proposal in about two weeks.”
Lankford said the real work is going on behind closed doors and he’s confident the committee members are working hard to find a deal.
But he’s not inclined to support any deal that increases taxes.
We asked him this: “To save the country, to cut down on the deficit, would you vote for increased revenue? Can you see yourself ever doing that?”
He answered like this: “I have yet to hear anyone say the federal government’s running so efficiently right now the last thing we have left is to raise taxes because we’re so efficient in every other area we have no where else to save. I find that laughable,” he said, pointing to deficit-reduction plans enacted ’80s and ’90s.
“Taxes increased by the dollar, the spending never came down,” he said. “I think it’s a red herring to be able to throw out there quite frankly to say, ‘Let’s do this again; it didn’t work the last two times.”
Hint: That means Lankford is unlikely to support tax increases in any sort of bipartisan deal, which makes it hard to imagine a bipartisan deal.
But he argued there are ways other than taxes to “deal with revenue” and get more money for the government.
“You start to deal with the loopholes. There’s common agreement on dealing with the loopholes and purge that out,” he said.
Many people and corporations lower their tax rate by taking advantage of generous tax deductions. And Lankford said eliminating those would be fine as long as tax rates are not increased.
Lankford argued that making corporations pay a lower tax rate would man corporations would bring money back to the United States and pay taxes here rather than in other countries.
“If we allow international companies to be able to bring their dollars that they’ve earned overseas back to the U.S., that’s going to inject about half a trillion dollars back into the American economy, including increased tax revenue that comes in,” he said.
Lankford, like his colleague, Paul Ryan, expressed a frustration with President Obama and Democrats for dividing Americans by sympathizing with Occupy Wall Street protesters and endorsing higher taxes for the wealthy.
“So if we just take care of that rich guy down the street, let’s go down there with our pitchforks, get his stuff and everything will be right in America and I think that just sets completely the wrong tone,” Lankford said.
Asked about the government report that showed 275 percent income growth for the top 1 percent of Americans since the 1970s while the rest of the country has seen more modest gains, Lankford said the top 1 percent is now also paying a larger percentage of taxes.
For the record, Lankford said he is not part of the richest 1 percent.
“You can also go to the CBO report that tracks the top 1 percent has paid in percentage in taxes, and you go from 1979 to the present and it’s gone up every single year. So the 1 percent is paying a higher percentage of GDP in taxes now than they were 30 years ago,” he said.
The rich pay more taxes by dollar, it is true. And they pay a higher percentage of their income, for the most part, in payroll and income taxes, than those less well off. The overall federal tax rate as a share of household income fell slightly for everyone between 1979 and 2007. See pages 25 and 26.