Davis willing to discuss tax loopholes, not rates

SAVOY — Congressman-elect Rodney Davis addressed the so-called fiscal cliff Monday, saying he would be open to discussing closing "tax loopholes," but that he would not favor changing tax rates, including higher taxes on the wealthy.

"I've said all along that it's about tax rates. Let's extend the tax rates permanently so that we can begin to grow our economy and create jobs that the small business owners talk to me about on an almost daily basis," Davis said after a Veterans Day ceremony at the Savoy Village Hall.

Unless the current Congress and President Barack Obama can agree to a new tax-and-spending plan before the end of 2012, the federal government will undergo on Jan. 2 a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit by $503 billion through next September. The new Congress — including Davis — will be sworn in on Jan. 3.

The Taylorville Republican, who won a narrow victory last week over Democrat David Gill of Bloomington, adopted a position similar to House Speaker John Boehner's: no to higher tax rates on the wealthy but a possible yes on limiting deductions and tax breaks.

"I don't think we'll have to shift on tax rates. I think a good compromise between Republicans and Democrats will be to keep our current tax rates and begin to address growing our economy and working toward paying down our national debt and controlling spending," said Davis.

In remarks to reporters, Davis repeatedly spoke of compromise, bipartisanship and working together with Democrats.

"We have to work in a bipartisan way to make sure that we address the fiscal cliff. I don't think that most Americans realize that if Republicans and Democrats continue to fight and not act on this, every American will experience the largest income tax increase in American history come January first," he said. "The tax tables will revert back to 2001 levels, and when that happens, every single paycheck will be reduced in January. It's imperative that Republicans and Democrats get along, and I think what the American people said last Tuesday was that they like a divided government but that it doesn't mean the status quo is acceptable. It means they want us to come together, find compromise and find a way to address some of the most important issues that have been left on the table due to politics."

Davis acknowledged that his plan "to repeal and replace Obamacare," a signature issue of his campaign, is dead. But he still thinks the health care program can be revised.

"I'm a realist. I understand that with President Obama in office, Obamacare is not going to be repealed, and I think what we have to do in Congress is wait for the full implementation of the law and the inevitable problems that will occur. We need to address those problems as they arise," he said.

Other items:

— Davis said his top three choices for House committee assignments are the Agriculture, Transportation, and Education & Workforce committees.

"That's not a decision I'll make. I'll gladly accept whatever committees I'm given. And I'm just honored to be able to have the opportunity to serve on any of the committees in Congress and serve this great district," he said. Orientation for House freshmen begins today in Washington.

— He and his family will remain in Taylorville and will not move to Washington.

— He had no reaction to last week's resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus. "I don't have enough information on that issue to be able to comment. I look forward to getting more information as a member of Congress once I'm sworn in, in January, and then I'll be able to adequately answer a question like that," Davis said.

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