Upton hopeful CR ‘sets stage’Published 8:30pm Monday, September 17, 2012
A continuing resolution the House passed overwhelmingly to fund the federal government at last summer’s debt deal levels through March 27 is expected to clear the Senate before the Oct. 1 deadline, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton told Niles-Buchanan Rotary Club Monday at Riverfront Cafe.
In August 2011, bipartisan majorities of the House and Senate voted for sequestration to force compromise.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 calls for $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade. The Office of Management and Budget said $984 billion would come from programs; $216 trillion from interest savings, or $109 billion annually.
The sequester plan was triggered when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, on which Upton served, failed to find a compromise.
“I remain hopeful,” Upton said in an interview at the Daily Star. “We did the CR last week because the House did nine or 10 of the 12 appropriation bills. The Senate did one. When we come back after the election, that’s a big thing off the table and, I hope, sets the stage to resolve sequestration. Most observers acknowledge the House will stay in Republican hands. The Senate, 53-47 Democrat now, is going to be close.
“We all know about the tax hikes, if we don’t extend the ’02 tax cut bill President Obama extended a year ago. And we’ve got these automatic across-the-board cuts as part of the debt ceiling extension. Had we not been able to get the CR done, we’d have a couple of bulldozers coming at each other. The Congressional Budget Office said if both the sequester and tax hikes were allowed, we stand a pretty good chance of a recession recurring, which we want to avoid. I’m hopeful this is the first step in avoiding a real problem.”
Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which along with Ways and Means and Education and Workforce, has jurisdiction over health care, said voters Nov. 6 will give the Supreme Court a “second opinion.”
“If (Mitt) Romney becomes president, we’ll be starting over,” he said. “Our response as Republicans is if it does get tossed, we’re not coming back with a 2,700-page bill. We need health care reform, but this was the wrong version.”
Businesses are resisting hiring, he said.
“They’re scared to death to go above 50 employees. There’s a lot of uncertainty on the tax code. There are at least 700,000 small businesses that file as individuals, which is one reason why the (CBO) said we can’t let those tax cuts expire.”
Upton said Iran wants $150 for barrels of oil, which now cost $118.
“I’ve been promoting a North American energy independence plan to stave off price hikes, which haven’t come down after the refinery fire and Hurricane Isaac. Alberta is going to be producing 4 million barrels from oil sands. It’s either coming here or going to China. Our refineries have been expanded by billions of dollars. Some will be exported, such as diesel to Europe, but we’ll keep most of it. We already import a million barrels a day from Canada. We upgraded safety standards for all newly constructed pipelines.”
Upton praised Romney’s selection of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for vice president as a “good choice against the grain.”