After the election, and possibly even before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 21, the first issue Congress will have to deal with is a series of tax increases and spending cuts set to go into effect all at once on Jan. 1 that economic analysts believe would throw the economy back into recession.
Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, and Richard Tisei, his Republican challenger, sketched out the broad outlines of what kind of deal they would find acceptable in what could turn into another rancorous fight in Washington over the federal government’s fiscal and spending policies.
Tierney said he supported modest reductions in spending, including at the Pentagon, along with higher taxes for the wealthy and a reduction in corporate and farm subsidies. Tisei said he supported targeted spending cuts as well, saying the military budget could be trimmed some and Medicare would have to change to survive. But he would not go along with higher rates.
Members of both parties have been jockeying for their policy priorities, with Democrats drawing a line by insisting the tax rate at the top bracket revert back to 39.6 percent, and Republicans digging in on their refusal to allow any tax rates to increase and pushing for sharp cuts to non-defense spending.
Tierney said he wanted a budget compromise to be “balanced,” meaning the federal deficit is reduced by both spending cuts and tax increases. Tisei said he would not support an increase in any tax rates, but would be open to an overall increase in tax revenue if it came through closing some deductions and expenditures in a revision of the tax code.
“If it raises revenue that way, I wouldn’t lose sleep,” Tisei, the Wakefield Republican and former state Senate minority leader said, adding that any increased revenue cannot go toward “new spending.”