CLEVELAND — Getting a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling was proving as elusive as ever in Congress Friday, but Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said his former colleagues should be willing to consider closing tax loopholes to make it happen.
As long as government doesn’t see any net dollar gain as a result, which is exactly what Democrats are looking for.
“I have no problem with them closing loopholes, making the tax code simpler, if that is then used to lower tax rates,’’ he told reporters shortly before speaking before a crowd of about 600 attending an Ohio Republican Party dinner that raised more than $200,000, a record for such a dinner.
“I think it would be an absolute mistake to be raising taxes in the worst recession since the Great Depression,’’ he said. “If they were serious about closing tax loopholes and lowering tax rates, I think it absolutely is something that should be done. And it’s being done in many states to help the economy grow. I think it would be a mistake under the guise of tax reform to use that an excuse to raise taxes.’’
He said that any net gain in tax revenue should not come from reform.
“I think the net gain will come as the economy grows…,’’ he said.
That places him somewhat at odds with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was absent from last night’s event. Mr. Kasich has criticized members of his own party for not being willing to compromise to get a debt -ceiling deal passed before Aug. 2, the date at which President Obama’s administration said the nation could face its first default on its debt payments.
“I have tremendous respect for John,’’ Mr. Jindal said. “Unlike many of these commentators, he was in the middle of the fight that actually resulted in the last balanced budget enacted in the 1990s.’’
Participants paid between $100 for individual dinner tickets to $250 for individual tickets to a private reception with party Chairman Kevin DeWine and Mr. Jindal.
Mr. Jindal told the crowd that America is at a tipping point and that Republicans have to draw the line in the sand here.
“This is the most important thing Congress is going to do over the next two years,’’ he said. “I don’t try to give Congress advice very often, but on this issue of debt, every Republican must weigh in. America is addicted to spending. We have to decide here and now. Are we going to be enablers to that spending addiction?’’
In a speech Friday during a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland, Mr. Obama again urged Republicans to agree to increased revenues as part of a deal that will lead to an increased debt ceiling.
“We can’t just close our deficit with spending cuts alone, because if we take that route it means that seniors would have to pay a lot more for Medicare, or students would have to pay a lot more for student loans,’’ he said. “It means that laid-off workers might not be able to count on temporary assistance or training to help them get a new job. It means we’d have to make devastating cuts in education and medical research and clean energy research -- just at a time when gas prices are killing people at the pump.”
A straw poll taken by those who attended gave former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the edge as their choice to take on Mr. Obama next year. He received 25 percent of the vote compared to 16 percent for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and 15 percent for his fellow Minnesotan, Congressman Michele Bachmann.