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Monday, December 3, 2012

Bass speaks out on ‘cliff’ solution

WASHINGTON – He was defeated for re-election in November, and will be leaving Capitol Hill in just over a month. But Republican congressman Charles Bass will nonetheless be in office long enough to vote on – and help shape – a solution that could avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Bass, regarded as a member of the moderate wing of his party, has echoed arguments put forth by Republican congressional leaders, while at other times diverged from them – such as on the issue of raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. ...

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WASHINGTON – He was defeated for re-election in November, and will be leaving Capitol Hill in just over a month. But Republican congressman Charles Bass will nonetheless be in office long enough to vote on – and help shape – a solution that could avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Bass, regarded as a member of the moderate wing of his party, has echoed arguments put forth by Republican congressional leaders, while at other times diverged from them – such as on the issue of raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans.

Bass said he is prepared to discuss any and all options, and that both sides need to be ready to “eat a little crow” if a deal is to get done to head off a combination of tax increases and across-the-board automatic spending cuts that many economists say could send the economy back into a recession.

“I’m not what I call a “me too, but’,” Bass said in an interview. “‘Me too, buts’ are people that are for reducing spending, for balancing the budget, for turning the economy around – but they won’t do this, they won’t do that, they won’t do this or that, until you reach a point where they aren’t willing to do anything. They want it their way or no way.”

At a press conference last week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans were willing to put revenue increases on the table as long as they were accompanied by serious spending cuts – and marginal tax rates are not raised.

Bass agrees with his party’s leadership that any revenue increase must be paired with significant spending reductions, and thinks the amount raised through spending cuts needs to be three to four times as much as the amount raised through revenue increases. He called that ratio an “acceptable” and “attainable” goal.

However, he takes a different position from his party’s leadership on the methods for achieving revenue increases.

“The Republicans are convinced that under no way, no how can marginal tax rates go up,” Bass said. “In my view, the faster we get beyond that debate the better, because this debate is going nowhere.”

He later said that “every issue ought to be on the table including raising marginal tax rates.”

As negotiations proceed on the taxes and spending cuts, Bass foresees difficulty among members of Congress in putting aside the “political dogma” of the campaign season in order to “propose things that may have been in some conflict with what was said during the campaign.”

Bass’ New Hampshire Republican colleague, Rep. Frank Guinta – who also lost a re-election bid Nov. 6 – rebuffed repeated requests to comment on his opinion on legislation designed to avoid the fiscal cliff scenario. Guinta lost his 1st District seat to Democratic Rep.-elect Carol Shea-Porter, who served two terms before being ousted by Guinta in 2010.

Bass lost the 2nd District race to Rep.-elect Ann McLane Kuster, whom he narrowly defeated in 2010 to regain a seat that he also held from 1994-2006.

Despite his defeat, Bass said he will vote with the same philosophy and ideals on which he ran this year.

“My views have not changed since the election, and they will not change between now and the end of the year,” Bass said.