U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of 12 lawmakers appointed to the so-called “super committee” to slash the federal deficit, said Thursday that he is willing to sacrifice some spending on entitlement programs, such as Medicare, but only if Republicans agree to raise taxes on the wealthy.
“My top priority is to make sure the sacrifice is shared,” Clyburn said during a conference call with reporters, adding: “I don’t have any lines in the sand.”
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made Clyburn, a longtime ally, one of her three appointees Friday to the special congressional panel set up to cut the federal deficit by either cutting spending or raising taxes.
But Clyburn’s priorities – eliminating corporate tax loopholes and tax cuts for the wealthy that were passed when George W. Bush was president – are at odds with Republicans, including all of South Carolina’s other members of Congress, who have vowed not to raise taxes.
“Rep. Clyburn has never seen a tax he doesn’t like. He’s so big government-minded he thinks money grows on trees,” said Chad Connelly, chairman of the S.C. Republican Party. “To appoint a guy who has been one of the biggest parts of the problem for years to a deficit reduction committee, you are sending a message to the world that you are not serious about deficit reduction.”
Clyburn, the state’s only Democrat in Washington, said if Republicans won’t budge on taxes, the super committee “won’t get anywhere.”
“The moment we can get some of our Republican friends to stop interpreting closing loopholes as raising taxes, we’ll get home free on this,” said Clyburn of Columbia, the third-ranking Democratic member of the House. “Everybody knows this can be done.”
Some Midlands officials cheered Clyburn’s appointment to the special panel, saying it ensures a guardian of the state’s military installations, worth an estimated $16 billion a year to the S.C. economy. If the committee cannot agree on how to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit by Thanksgiving, there would be automatic cuts to military spending and social programs over the next 10 years.
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