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December 7, 2012

Kelly: Tax increase a non-starter

NEW CASTLE — U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly says there needs to be a compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

However, the Butler Republican indicated President Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans should not be part of that compromise.

Raising taxes, he said, “is a non-starter.”

Kelly won election to his second term from the 3rd District last month and will begin representing most of Lawrence County in January. He was recently appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing panel in the House.

The “fiscal cliff” refers to tax increases as well as spending cuts in defense and domestic programs that will occur if Congress does nothing by the end of this year.

Though he spoke of the need for compromise, Kelly said, “I don’t see that from the president.”

Nonetheless, Kelly said, the president is the key person regarding discussions on how to solve the country’s financial problems.

“He has to be the person to bring both sides together.”

Right now, there is no such discussion, he said.

Kelly disputes the notion that last month’s election gave Obama “an overwhelming mandate” to raise taxes.

He said there is “a far greater number” that wants reform.

“If we don’t rein in our spending, we’re never going to raise enough revenue.”

Kelly added, “You have to have meaningful discussions about what is driving the debt.”

Congress and the president need to come up with solutions to preserve Medicare and Social Security and “find new metrics” to save them for younger people, he said.

“We have to fix this thing and not just put a Band-Aid on it. There has to be meaningful reform to these programs.”

Though he acknowledges such reform cannot occur by year’s end, Kelly said. “You can start a framework.”

He said the proposal put forth earlier in the week by House GOP leaders “makes a lot of sense.”

The plan calls for raising revenue by closing loopholes, capping deductions within the tax code, making changes to entitlement programs and cutting spending. Obama rejected the proposal.

Asked whether he is optimistic that the fiscal cliff can be avoided, Kelly said, “I’m optimistic that the speaker isn’t going to stop trying.”

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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