KINGSTON - Amid discussions of a Capitol Hill compromise to avoid middle-class tax hikes and automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending, U.S. Rep. Christopher Gibson says he does not plan to re-sign a pledge championed by conservative anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist.
Gibson, R-Kinderhook, signed the pledge developed by Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, as the representative in New York's current 20th Congressio-nal District but said he will not sign it again as the representative of the new 19th Congressional District when he starts a new term in January. Many other Republican members of Congress also are backing away from the pledge as a budget deal with Democrats is sought.
Gibson, who's finishing his first two-year term in the House, said he initially signed the pledge to show his constituents he is pro-growth, but he believes that no longer is necessary because he now has a record people can evaluate.
Rep. Chris Gibson
(Enterprise file photo)
He noted that his record includes A ratings from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
The stage was set for the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes - the so-called "fiscal cliff" - when President Barack Obama and Congress agreed in the summer of 2011 to the Budget Control Act, a compromise to resolve the impasse over raising the nation's debt ceiling. Had the ceiling not been raised, the U.S. government would have defaulted on its debt.
Under the agreement, cuts to most federal programs, including education, will take effect automatically on Jan. 1 if there is no new deal beforehand between the president, a Democrat, and Congress, which has Republican control in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate that is not filibuster-proof.
At the same time, lower income tax rates that have been in effect since George W. Bush's presidency would expire.
Gibson said in an interview last week that he and a group of other lawmakers from both parties continue to hold meetings to try to increase support for a version of the Cooper-LaTourette budget proposal, named for Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, which Gibson supported when it only drew 38 votes earlier this year.
The congressman described the 10-year spending plan as being "75 percent the same as" the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan. When Cooper-LaTourette was proposed, it was attacked by conservative groups as a tax increase and blasted by the left as a more right-wing version of the Simpson-Bowles plan.
Gibson said the group has been getting more support but has a way to go to get the kind of traction it needs.
The federal government is taking in about $2.5 trillion in revenue each year through the current U.S. tax code and allows $1.3 trillion to be deducted from taxes, Gibson said. A key part of the Cooper-LaTourette proposal, he said, is lowering tax rates for all earners and eliminating deductions - moves that would increase the government's total revenue while putting more money in the pockets of consumers and small businesses.
The congressman described the plan as fiscally responsible. With a long-term fix in place, he said, businesses will be more willing to spend money they have been holding back because of uncertainty over taxes.
Gibson said he would listen to other proposals to solve the impasse in Washington, but he would not comment on whether he would consider rolling back the Bush-era tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 per year. He said he wants to wait and see what comes forward.
Gibson's current congressional district stretches from northern Dutchess County to Saranac Lake. Come January, Gibson will represent a new district comprising all of Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties, part of Dutchess County and some or all of seven other counties. The northern end of the 20th District will become part of the 21st District, represented by Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
Gibson defeated Stone Ridge Democrat Julian Schreibman in the Nov. 6 election.