By Albert McKeon
U.S. Rep. Charles Bass has several good things to say about Congress.
Despite continuously low public approval ratings of federal lawmakers, Bass believes the relationship between Democrats and Republicans has improved since his prior go-around as a congressman.
Bass does concede, however, that the ideological gap between the two parties has never seemed wider. Of course, there lies the rub on the two sides compromising.
But Bass hopes his Republican Party and Democrats finally can reach a consensus on lowering the nation's debt, and as an olive branch, he offers, for the time being, to consider any proposal -- except tax increases.
In an interview with The Telegraph editorial board Wednesday, Bass said, "Raising tax rates in this economy is a bad idea."
Bass said not only would the economy have to improve, but spending would have to be reduced considerably for him to contemplate raising revenue through a tax hike.
As for boosting the economy, Bass dismissed the job creation package that President Barack Obama is expected to unveil tonight. Bass said Obama's $787 billion stimulus package in 2009 didn't work, and a smaller, second one would also fail to lift the economy.
"It's always tempting to say you're going to spend $100 billion here and there, but it didn't work and it's not going to work," Bass said.
Obama reportedly will propose infrastructure investments costing as much as $300 billion, as well as tax cuts.
Bass does support tax cuts for businesses, saying increased revenue will prompt businesses to spend and hire more. Expanded tax deductions would come through "substantial changes" to the tax codes, he said.
Bass would also like to see the passage of pending foreign trade agreements, largely because he said one of every four jobs in New Hampshire relies on exporting. And a repeal of a territorial tax could net $1 trillion from U.S. companies based overseas, he said.
"You think about it, about $1 trillion would be a stimulus, and it wouldn't cost the government as much" as a conventional stimulus package, he said.
Bass also wants to eliminate certain corporate regulations, many of which he believes are repetitive and unnecessary. "You certainly want to protect workers and the environment, but you also need to be practical and pragmatic," he said.
And as a way of lessening the $1.5 trillion national deficit, Bass said everything should be on the table, including taxes, defense spending and social welfare programs.
Bass added he would consider supporting a postponement of making the Bush administration's tax cuts permanent, as well as defense spending cuts.
"There is room for bipartisanship," he said.
Bass won re-election in 2010, defeating Democrat Ann McLane Kuster and reclaiming a seat he lost to Democrat Paul Hodes in 2006. Prior to that loss, Bass served the 2nd Congressional District for six straight terms starting in 1995.
Those early terms came at a time when Democrats had no idea how to be in the minority and Republicans had no idea how to lead, Bass said. Then, after Bass lost office in 2006, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi essentially choked minority Republicans from voicing their opinions on the floor, he said.
But the current speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, allows floor discussion from both parties, and while debates last longer, legislating is more thorough, he said.
"The relationship is better than it was before," Bass said. "The rhetoric is shrill; it's always been shrill." But Bass said he doesn't feel ill at the end of a House session, as he did under previous leadership.