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The Daily Record - Getting Down to Business in Debt Ceiling Debate

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Location: Wooster, OH

By: Bobby Warren

That no deal was reached in Washington, D.C., over the weekend on the debt ceiling did not surprise Congressman Jim Renacci.

President Barack Obama has suggested some spending cuts along with restoring higher tax rates in 2013 in trying to reach a deal with Republicans so they will support raising the debt ceiling.

However, the Republicans, thus far, have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to tax hikes.

If Congress raises taxes, then the only people who lose are consumers because business owners will pass along those costs, said Renacci, a Wadsworth Republican who represents Ohio's 16th Congressional District, which includes Wayne County and parts of Ashland. Renacci has been an owner or co-owner of several businesses, including nursing homes, an automobile dealership, a motorcycle dealership, an Arena Football League team and an entertainment venue.

"You don't (raise taxes) when there is 9.2 percent unemployment," Renacci said.

When Obama said earlier this year the worst thing to do in a recession would be to raise taxes, Congressman Bob Gibbs agreed.

"I can't vote to raise taxes in this economy," said Gibbs, a Lakeville Republican who represents the 18th Congressional District, which includes Holmes County.

On Monday, Obama talked about millionaires and billionaires and fortunate people like himself being able to pay more taxes.

But Gibbs said any tax increase will go beyond just wealthy people because it will affect small- and medium-sized businesses.

"If you take money out of those businesses now, there will be less to grow the businesses," Gibbs said. "It will have a negative impact on job creation."

From the time Renacci was a candidate trying to increase his name recognition and reach out to voters, he has said business owners want certainty and predictability.

When he uses those terms, he speaks of letting business leaders know what their tax rates will be, eliminating burdensome regulation and replacing health care reform legislation that was passed in the last Congress.

In December, Obama agreed to extend tax cuts passed about a decade early during George W. Bush's presidency. When he signed the tax relief legislation, he said middle-class families would have been hurt when the tax cuts were scheduled to go away on Jan. 1. He refused to let that happen, Obama said, during the bill signing on Dec. 10. "Putting more money in the pockets of families most likely to spend it, helping businesses invest and grow -- that's how we're going to spark demand, spur hiring and strengthen our economy in the New Year," Obama said at the time.

Renacci had trouble reconciling what Obama said in December compared to what he is saying now.

"How can the president say we need to extend the tax rates for two years and six months later talk about raising taxes," Renacci said.

Talk like this does not give confidence to business owners who are thinking about whether they should hire more people, he added. "They are not going to hire anybody until they know what their costs will be."

"With the federal government, when more money comes in, they spend it," Gibbs said. "It's not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem."

Both congressmen want to see spending come under control and regulation reforms enacted.

Renacci said he would like to see a balanced budget amendment pass Congress.


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