A day after making a big splash on Capitol Hill for leading a bipartisan group of 100 House members urging the deficit Supercommittee to "go big," Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson said he's fully aware of the political consequences of supporting a plan that includes revenue increases along with spending cuts.
"Every member that signed this letter puts their political future at risk," Simpson told me Thursday morning.
Simpson is making multiple appearances on TV as result of his signature gathering. He appeared with his Democratic partner in the effort, Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., on "Fox and Friends," Thursday morning. Wednesday night, he was on CNN with Erin Burnett. He also is scheduled to appear on MSNBC and Bloomberg TV, and again on Fox.
Thirty-seven of the 40 GOP signatories have signed a pledge by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to oppose any tax increases, Simpson among them.
But Simpson noted Thursday that he signed the pledge just once, when he first ran for Congress in 1998. Since then, he's declined.
"What I came to discover is if you sign a no-tax pledge then you've allowed someone else to define what a tax increase is, or not," Simpson said. "I don't think lowering rates and expanding the base to bring in more revenue is necessarily a tax increase."
Added Simpson: "The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That's the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that's the pledge you oughtta be concerned about."
The Supercommittee must report by Thanksgiving and Congress must vote by Christmas. If their recommendation fails to pass, across-the-board cuts will be implemented.
Whether the committee goes small, in $1.2 trillion range, or big, with $4 trillion to $6 trillion in savings and revenue, Simpson said the vote will be difficult.
"Don't make me take a tough vote that doesn't help solve this problem," Simpson said. "The $1.2 trillion just doesn't do that. All that does is kick the can down the road and we're out of road."
Key to "going big" will be "making the public aware of the dire consequences of not doing anything or just kicking the can down the road. I think we've got one chance to fix this. If we don't get it right there's going to be hell to pay -- not politically, economically."
Simpson said reaction has been positive so far, though his offices have not been flooded with feedback. At a speech in Idaho Falls last week, Simpson said his views were warmly received. He also praised Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo, a member of the bipartisan "Gang of Six" for his longtime leadership on a deficit plan that would include both cuts and tax reform.
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