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Confident conservative Jordan: Stand ground on taxes
Other Republicans may be worried about the campaign prospects of Mitt Romney but not Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative caucus in the House, who said voters have made the decision to reject President Obama and replace him with the GOP nominee.
Anticipating a Romney win and takeover of the Senate, Mr. Jordan said he and his fellow members of the Republican Study Committee, the 164-member-strong conservative caucus, need to persuade party leaders not to make any bad deals in a lame-duck session of Congress.
He said that's true even if it means letting the George W. Bush tax cuts expire in the very short term, with the understanding that Republicans would come in next year and write a bill they believe is better for taxpayers.
"You get a better deal at 12:01 than you get at 11:59," Mr. Jordan said Friday in a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.
He faulted House Speaker John A. Boehner for not going to the brink last year in the first government shutdown showdown, saying his party's leadership should have held out for a better deal that cut more spending.
But overall, he praised Mr. Boehner, a fellow Ohioan.
"God bless the speaker. He's got the toughest job in town, and I think he's done it well.
"Overall, he's done a good job in a tough job," Mr. Jordan said, praising the speaker for opening the floor process to amendments. "Remember, he's got to deal with Harry Reid, Barack Obama and conservatives like me. It's not an easy job. And I understand that."
He also had none of the sharp criticisms of Mr. Romney that some other Republicans have lodged during this campaign, telling The Times that his party's nominee is taking all the right stands to unseat Mr. Obama.
"I still believe when people walk into that voting booth, they're going to say, 'You know what, we can do a lot worse than a business guy in the White House right now,'" Mr. Jordan said. "He's running on not raising taxes, he's running on a strong defense, he's running on cutting spending, he's running on traditional American principles and values. I think that's a pretty good campaign. That's what Reagan ran on, that's what Bush ran on."
Mr. Jordan, 48, was elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee ahead of this Congress. His chief success was early, when he and fellow conservatives insisted that Mr. Boehner produce deeper savings in a House stopgap spending bill.
Now Mr. Jordan, who shook his head when asked whether he would run for a leadership position in the House, will play a major role in deciding how hard his party fights against any tax increases as Congress grapples with the automatic budget cuts, or "sequesters," due Jan. 2.
Mr. Jordan said major spending cuts, including potential trims in defense spending, should be on the table. But he flatly rejected raising revenue at all, saying that even at 16 percent of gross domestic product, it's still too much.
"No, we should not do that. The simple fact is, are Americans undertaxed or overtaxed? They're overtaxed," he said. "People are taxed to death. So it's not more revenue government needs; we need to control spending, and that's where we should focus."
He did call for tax reform to flatten the system, and said he would like to see tax cuts coupled with corresponding spending cuts so the deficit is not deepened. But he said if his only choice is tax cuts that add to the deficit, he would vote for that.
For defense, Mr. Jordan said it "has to be on the table." Beyond waste, fraud and abuse, he said, the best place for cuts might be to look at civilian employees within the Defense Department. He said he has heard that idea from folks in the department.
Even then, he wouldn't commit to any specific cuts. Instead, he said he supports giving the department a once-over to see what might be possible.
Mr. Jordan voted against last year's debt deal that set up the sequesters, but now says he would oppose any effort to turn them off unless they are replaced with other spending cuts.
Mr. Jordan also said he agrees with some of his party's leaders who think that the GOP is playing offense and could even expand its majority in the lower chamber.
That puts him at odds with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who told reporters last week that she is increasingly convinced her party will regain control of the chamber, particularly now that Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican Study Committee member and architect of the GOP budget with its Medicare changes, is on the presidential ticket.
"Since the selection of Ryan and his being the agent for the destruction of Medicare, that has changed things much more to our favor, and other, shall we say, indiscretions, whether it's the Sea of Galilee or statements by Congressman Akin," she said, referring to two other recent controversial incidents.
The first involved a Republican congressman who went skinny-dipping on a trip to Israel, and the second was a reference to Rep. W. Todd Akin of Missouri, a Senate candidate who said women's bodies have a way of rejecting pregnancies when they are victims of "legitimate rape."
Mrs. Pelosi said Democrats will win 12 or 13 seats across California, Illinois, Texas and New York, and win a seat or two each in Maryland, Washington and Arizona based on redistricting. Then in Florida, Colorado, Ohio and Nevada, she said, her candidates can ride Mr. Obama's coattails to victories that will give Democrats the 218 seats total needed to control the chamber — and maybe significantly more should Mr. Obama win in a landslide.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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