- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two top congressional Republicans reiterated Sunday that tax increases would not be a part of any debt-ceiling deal with President Obama.

Sen. John McCain stressed that the “principle of not raising taxes” is something Republicans campaigned on last year, and he rejected the idea that any short- or long-term deal include tax hikes.

“The American people … don’t want compromise. They want us to balance the budget,” Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Treasury Department has estimated the U.S. will default on its obligations if the cap isn’t raised above its current $14.29 trillion level by Aug. 2.

Republicans want major spending cuts attached to the debt-ceiling vote, while many Democrats are seeking to eliminate tax loopholes and find other ways to generate more money for the federal government.

President Obama and other Democrats have cited a litany of tax breaks, including a deduction for private jets, as examples of loopholes that should be done away with as part of the deal.

While Republicans are standing firm against tax increases, there might be other “revenue raisers” the GOP could find palatable, Mr. McCain said, though he would not specify what those might be.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday” that tax reform is “absolutely” necessary, but doubts there will be enough time to tackle such a complex problem before the Aug. 2 deadline.

Some have suggested a short-term debt-ceiling deal, which would allow the U.S. to continue paying its bills while giving lawmakers more time to work on a long-term solution.

“The problem with a mini-deal is that we have a maxi-problem,” Mr. Cornyn said, echoing the sentiment of other Republicans who think now is the time for serious fiscal reforms.

If congressional Republicans and Democrats can’t get the job done, some argue that Mr. Obama has the power to solve the problem by invoking a clause in the 14th Amendment, which reads in part: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”

But many members of Congress, already miffed that Mr. Obama kept out them out of the loop on U.S. military involvement in Libya, reject the idea that the president can deal with the debt ceiling by himself.

“That’s crazy talk,” Mr. Cornyn said.

He added that it is “not acceptable” for Congress and Mr. Obama not to do their jobs, and he blasted the president for not stepping up to the plate and getting a deal done.

“All he seems to do is attack those who are trying to make responsible proposals to solve this problem,” Mr. Cornyn said, referring to Mr. Obama’s stinging rebuke of Congress during a press conference last week.

Meanwhile, Congress and the administration have become punching bags for local officials across the country.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, warned that the nation’s fiscal problems “will fall over into our states” if a deal isn’t done soon.

Also appearing on “Face the Nation,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said each and every member of Congress “should submit their resignations” if they fail to reach a debt-ceiling agreement.

“I think Washington has its head in the sand,” the Democratic mayor said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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