Yesterday, I mentioned that, as Michigan Congressman Fred Upton had been appointed one of the 12 members of the Congressional Deficit Reduction Super Committee, we, the people of Michigan, should do a better job of, 1) pushing him to acknowledge that tax increases, and not just budget cuts, are needed to bridge the nation’s growing budget deficit, 2) reporting on his ties to corporate lobbyists, and organizations such as the Club for Growth, which are dedicated to rolling back taxes on the super-wealthy, regardless of the negative repercussions for our society, and 3) building awareness of his new role, as well as on his non-mainstream stance on the taxation of the wealthy, among his constituents. Well, based on this article in today’s Kalamazoo Gazette, it appears as though some of this is already shaping up. Specifically, it’s noted in the article that Michigan Citizen Action, Progress Michigan, and MoveOn.org already have people on the ground in Upton’s district, organizing resistance to the “Tax Breaks as All Costs” jihad of the Republican party. And, the good news is, Upton already seems to be indicating that we should consider the closing of tax loopholes exploited by the corporate class. (As you’ll recall, most Republicans fought even the closing of corporate jet loopholes in recent deficit reduction talks, stating that doing so would keep companies from creating new jobs. It’s not a huge step, but I’m encouraged that Upton is saying publicly that he’s open to going at least that far.) Here’s a clip:
At a public forum Monday, Congressman Fred Upton said he was open to closing tax loopholes to help bring the federal budget into balance.
“We need to look at everything,” Upton said in his first public comments since being appointed by House Speaker John Boehner six days ago to the “super committee” charged with cutting $1.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years.
The St. Joseph Republican spoke to a crowd of close to 200 people at a meeting of the Kalamazoo County Advocates for Senior Issues at the Coover Senior Center. About another 150 people were not allowed in due to space reasons, while some demonstrated outside against Upton and policies he supports.
In the months leading up to the compromise passed by Congress on Aug. 2 that raised the nation’s debt ceiling and averted default, much of the debate focused on raising revenue.
“I don’t think raising taxes, particularly on businesses, is a way to create jobs,” Upton said Monday.
But while he did not comment specifically on how to raise revenue, he said, “I’m not afraid of looking at tax loopholes. Tax reform is long overdue.”
Tax loopholes allowed General Electric to avoid paying taxes in 2010. The company, which made $14.1 billion in 2010, of which $5.1 billion came from the U.S., claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion that same year, according to the New York Times.
“I don’t think anybody was happy to see that G.E. didn’t pay any taxes,” Upton said.
While Upton said it might take longer to reform the tax code than the super committee has time for, it will be done in the current Congress.
Upton said it was premature to get into specifics about tax loopholes, since the 12-member “super committee” hadn’t met in person. “I want to see where we can agree,” he said…
And, speaking of the Super Committee on which Upton serves, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation are concerned. It seems that it doesn’t sit so well with them that we’ve created a new entity that operates in secret, “out of the reach of public oversight”. Here, for those of you who are interested, are the five things they would like to see this new deficit reduction committee share with the public.
• Live webcasts of all official meetings and hearings
• The Committee’s report should be posted for 72 hours before a final committee vote
• Disclosure of every meeting held with lobbyists and other powerful interests
• Disclosure of campaign contributions as they are received (on their campaign websites)
• Financial disclosures of Committee members and staffers
Sounds reasonable enough for a Democracy such as ours, doesn’t it?