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Waco Tribune Herald - Waco GOP Rep. Flores Stands by Tax Pledge

News Article

Location: Waco, TX

By Lowell Brown

Some congressional Republicans say they are willing to break a no-new-tax pledge if it means reaching the right deal with Democrats to avert the "fiscal cliff."

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, is not among them.

Flores is standing by his pledge to Americans for Tax Reform, a group led by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist.

Bill Flores said he thinks Republican proposals to reform the tax code and rein in entitlements could grow the economy without raising rates.
By signing the pledge, candidates and lawmakers agree to oppose all income tax hikes and to match any loss of tax credits or deductions with additional rate cuts.

"I believe in more federal revenues, but not by raising rates," Flores said in an interview.

Critics say the pledge -- which most congressional Republicans have signed -- is an obstacle to forging a deficit- reduction deal needed to prevent the more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that would begin in January absent an agreement. President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders have said the wealthy should pay higher tax rates as part of any deal.

Several Republicans have distanced themselves from the anti-tax pledge in recent days, including Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Rep. Peter King of New York, who called it outdated.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in an interview Sunday with ABC's "This Week," said he would consider violating the pledge if Democrats agreed to reform entitlement programs. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told "CBS This Morning" Monday he was "not obligated" to the pledge.

Flores, whose district includes McLennan County, said he thinks Republican proposals to reform the tax code and rein in the cost of Medicare and other entitlement programs could help the economy grow and produce more tax revenue without raising rates.

"We've put revenues on the table through economic growth," Flores said. "If we had a revenue problem then the pledge would be a problem, but we don't have a revenue problem. We have an economic growth problem because of the policies coming out of Washington."

David Schleicher, treasurer of the McLennan County Democratic Party, said the aftermath of the European debt crisis shows spending cuts alone do not help an economy grow.

"The only pledge a member of Congress should be bound by is the one to uphold the law and the Constitution," Schleicher said. "So I'm disappointed (Flores) will not join his Republican colleagues in seeking a balanced approach."

Flores said the GOP-led House already laid the groundwork for needed changes through its "Path to Prosperity" budgets and Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act.

The latter, which passed the House in May, would reduce domestic spending to prevent looming defense cuts.

Flores' comments largely echo House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has said Republicans could support new revenue if it came from tax code changes, including fewer loopholes and lower rates for all, and if Democrats agreed to entitlement program reforms.

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