CHAMPAIGN — Congressman-elect Rodney Davis doubts that the current lame-duck Congress will permanently resolve the so-called "fiscal cliff" crisis of tax and spending issues.
"I'm not confident at all. I think they're going to punt it and do a temporary solution, and I think that's a failure," he said. "It's a dereliction of duty by both Republicans and Democrats."
After speaking to about 100 students Tuesday afternoon at The High School of St. Thomas More in Champaign, the Taylorville Republican predicted that the outgoing Congress would "pass a temporary fix, a temporary solution to extend current tax rates" for an indefinite period.
Davis, a former aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, called the temporary fix "unacceptable."
"One thing I found out about Congress in working for Congressman Shimkus for 16 years is that if you allow Congress and the Senate and the president to kick issues down the road, they don't get addressed until you have a deadline," said Davis, who will be sworn in with 82 other freshman on Jan. 3. "So to me, the deadline ought to be this lame-duck Congress to make some tough decisions that need to be made. If not, I'm looking forward to going to Washington and having a seat at the table to be able to draft a permanent plan that's going to give us a permanent solution."
His top priority remains extending current tax rates, Davis said.
"We still have the problem with the slow economy, and our job creators still don't have the certainty they need to be able to invest in people and create jobs that politicians keep talking about. I think that has to be paramount. We have to take them into consideration," Davis said. "That's the problem we need to address."
In his comments to the high school students, Davis said he "was willing to ensure that we close some tax loopholes to raise revenue. No loophole is off the table."
But later he said that he would not support removing the home-mortgage interest deduction or eliminating wind-energy tax credits.
"I'm not going to walk in there and say that we need to get rid of something as important as the home-ownership deduction. That's just not me," he said. "But if there's some loophole that exists, that the TV commercials said existed, that encourages people to shift jobs overseas, let's get rid of it. Let's go in and find solutions to grow our American economy."
Regarding wind energy, he said, "We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that includes wind, solar and hydro."
Davis also said he favors a change to the nation's campaign-finance laws that would require reporting of all campaign contributions, both to candidates and to the outside political action committees and other groups that poured nearly $6.9 million into his 13th District race this year.
"We saw it in this district, where millions were spent for and against me, and we didn't know where that money was coming from," he said. "That's indicative of the failures of the campaign-finance reform laws that we have now."
Davis said he already had talked to the five other freshmen congressmen from Illinois about reforming campaign-finance laws.
"If we can come up with some solutions that do not restrict free speech, I'm all for it," he said. "More disclosure, more transparency absolutely has to be a key."
Davis also said, in response to a question from a student, that he opposed the Obama administration's mandate that employers, including churches, provide contraception coverage.
"I take my religion seriously and I believe that the government does not have the right to tell a religious institution that they have to provide something that goes against their religion, no matter what the religion. Not just Catholicism, be it Islam, be it Judaism, be it any religion," said Davis, who converted to Catholicism in 2001.
Davis also said he would have a district office in Champaign County, although he said he has not begun looking at locations. That issue will be resolved in December, he said, once congressmen learn of their office allowances.