Congressman John Shimkus just acknowledged on my radio show that the Pledge to America was intended to govern this Congress as well as the next, which puts every member of the GOP in the position of defending their vote for “the deal” against the specifics of the Pledge. Five relevant sections from The Pledge:
Permanently Stop All Job-Killing Tax Hikes (p.16)
Act Immediately to Reduce Spending (p.21)
Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels (p.21)
Read the Bill (p.33)
Advance Legislative Issues One at a Time (p.33)
Here is the transcript.
HH: I’m pleased to welcome back Congressman John Shimkus from the [Illinois] 19th Congressional district, one of the senior Republicans in the House. Congressman, Merry Christmas to you, welcome back, good to have you.
JS: Merry Christmas to you, too, and it is snowy and cold out here in mid-America here.
HH: Well, talk to us a little bit, Congressman, about how you see this playing out in the House, a lot of conservatives and Tea Party activists unhappy with the tax deal that passed the Senate.
JS: Yeah, I know, and I’ll tell you, it’s causing concern, because we do know that it’s the Tea Part and the conservatives that are bringing us back to the majority. What I have to remind people is we’re not in the majority, we’re not in the majority right now. We don’t control the floor. There’s majorities of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, and the President, who’s a Democrat. So the question is in this deal, do we want to risk a massive increase in taxes January 1st, and not just that, but the filing, the uncertainty problems for small businesses who really will get crushed if we don’t bring certainty, and we delay this extension of the tax cuts.
HH: Now Congressman Shimkus, you are well known as being a very, very transparent good guy, of your word, et cetera. So this is maybe a task you and other guys are going to have to take up, and gals, which is the Pledge For America didn’t have a time stamp on it, didn’t say we’ll start this in the 112th. It committed you guys in the 111th. It appeared on House.gov, et cetera. And yet, this tax deal looks like it’s inconsistent with three, four, even five provisions of the Pledge To America.
JS: Well, I think one of the provisions of the Pledge was job growth, job security and certainty. This is very…if you want to add uncertainty to the business community, and that is raise taxes on them. I mean, again, for the folks who own small businesses, sub-chapter S, the sole proprietors, this is devastating. Then you tie the death tax to that, which is triple taxation on a provision, I mean, you’re right. There is concern, but I think there is more concern of raising taxes at a time when the economy is struggling.
HH: Well now, if in fact it is inconsistent with the Pledge, and it is. I mean…
JS: Well, I mean, I’m pretty sure that the Pledge was not for tax increases.
HH: No, but it said immediately move to cut spending, do away with all permanent…permanently do away with all tax hikes, not a two year deal. It said read the bill, it said only one subject at a time. I’m missing one. I quoted them all. And I understand exigency, but isn’t it up, then, for the leadership to come out and say we’re sorry, we know this is inconsistent with the Pledge, we had no choice? Shouldn’t they do that?
JS: Well, yeah. Hey, I’m not…I’m for mea culpas and saying what we can and what we can’t do. You are correct in saying that the Pledge was a governing document for now. Again, we are…we still aren’t the governing party in the House of Representatives, or in the Senate…
HH: But…and so this leads me, I’m glad to hear you say that, because a lot of my guests have been trying, they haven’t said it wasn’t, but they’ve been kind of hedging and trying to avoid it. And one of the things that drives people crazy about elected officials, they don’t ever come out and say well, we were wrong, we got it wrong, and we couldn’t do it now. But given that, how do we get people to ever believe us in the future when we put out a new pledge, if it’s all contingent upon circumstances?
JS: Well, you know, we will continue to say that our national debt is a spending problem. It’s solely, primarily based upon the fact that we spend more than we take in. It’s not a revenue problem. And the concern about if we allow these tax cuts to expire, then they will be used to say no, it is a revenue problem that we have a massive debt, not a spending problem. So we don’t want to then raise taxes, slow the economy, and have this part of that debate on why we are in the mess that we’re in.
HH: Last question, we’ve got about thirty seconds, Congressman, are you confident that the next Congress, the 112th, will cut federal spending by at least $100 billion, plus whatever they’ve just passed in this tax deal?
JS: The House of Representatives will do that. I’m very confident that we will.
HH: Will you rather shut the government down than allow that spending to increase?
JS: We’ve got the Senate to deal with. And I think we could…there is a possibility of that happening.
HH: Congressman John Shimkus, always a pleasure. Thank you, Congressman.
End of interview.