Rigell on Bloomberg TV: "We need a comprehensive agreement"

Office of U.S. Congressman Scott Rigell
2012-11-14 16:03:07
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From the Desk of

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
SCOTT RIGELL
2nd District
of Virginia



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Washington, DC 20515
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(202) 225-4215

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Congressman Scott Rigell Discusses Fiscal Cliff on Bloomberg TV


Washington, DC -- Today Congressman Scott Rigell appeared on Bloomberg TV to discuss the looming fiscal cliff that will affect all Americans at the beginning of next year.  In the interview, Rigell said: "I am advocating for a comprehensive agreement -- one that addresses both the revenue side and the spending side. ... The consequences of not (coming to an agreement) are so severe for our country that this threatens every Republican, Democrat, Independent -- and folks who are fed up with all the parties." 

 The

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Transcript of Bloomberg Interview with Congressman Scott Rigell on 14 November 2012

Betty Liu: 

I am joined now by the newly re-elected Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia, who in a symbolic gesture gave back 15% of his salary to go towards the budget deficit. Now that gesture piqued the interest of billionaire Warren Buffett, who matched his contributions and invited the Congressman back in January of this year to Omaha to talk about the fiscal situation and (since then) it has only gotten worse and worse.  Treasury Secretary Geithner said we are fighting over a very small issue which is raising the tax on two percent of very wealthy Americans.  Would you accept some type of deal on the fiscal cliff that would raise taxes on the wealthy?

Congressman Rigell:

Thank you Betty for having me on the show.  I think what is important here is that we also look at the spending side.  What I will be looking for, and what I am certainly open to and advocating for, is a comprehensive agreement—one that addresses both the revenue side and the spending side.  I distanced myself from the Norquist pledge, the ATR pledge, because I think it is irreconcilable with meaningful tax reform.  I am a Republican who is ready to come to an agreement.  I think we have got to move quickly; the consequences of not are so severe for our country that it really threatens every Republican, Democrat, Independent, and folks that are fed up with all of the parties.

Betty Liu:

Americans are very much fed up, Congressman.  What I am hearing from you is, look, you may entertain some sort of a tax rate increase if it did come also with some significant entitlement cuts, right?

Congressman Rigell:

The three to one ratio (of spending cuts to revenue increases) is a good point to pivot off of and one thing that I would encourage the leadership to do, and of course the White House as well, is to begin a discussion on what a tax code yields as a percent of our GDP, and the same on the spending side.  I rarely hear that, in fact, I do not recall hearing that.  All I hear is taxes are too low or too high.  I think that we need to look for historical context – this is helpful to Americans.  When I distanced myself from the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, the first thing I did was I went back to the district and I got out a number line and I just walked through, with our wonderful district, why I came to the decision I came to.  When Americans are given good information, they make good decisions.  So I am confident that we can educate folks in the district on where we need to go as a country.  I have made it clear that I think this tax code, from a historic standpoint, is less than where we have been – we have not been at this particular yield, which is 16.9 percent, since 1959.  Now this is a mathematical reality and I am a businessman—that is who the second district sent up to serve them in Washington.  Now on the expense side, we are way over by 24 percent of GDP.  So both revenues have to come up, principally by growing our economy, elimination of loop holes, and spending needs to come down. (But that is not) what I have seen from the President or from our Democrat leadership here in Congress are specific plans on how to reduce spending.

Betty Liu:

To your point, overall, Congressman, when you say that the message is just not getting out to the American people, I thought there was an interesting study that was done by the Pew Research Center, where they found that 51 percent of Americans believe that we will go over the fiscal cliff; they have very little trust in the lawmakers to solve this situation.  However, I thought it was even more interesting that 53 percent would blame the Republicans for going over the cliff.  What do you think of that?

Congressman Rigell:

I think what is important is that we lead and that we put forth bold plans for the future of our children and our grandchildren.  I really believe the foundation of our Republic is at risk.  It troubles me to share that with you, but I have said this in our district:  I think we need to be careful to go where the facts lead us, and for me, first as an American and a businessman, and indeed as a Republican, I believe what it means to be a Republican is that we pay our bills and this tax code yields around 17 percent.  I think that can be proved mathematically, empirically, and again, we have not been there since 1959, but I need some help from our Democrat friends.

Betty Liu:

So you are saying that the tax code is 17 percent of our GDP, right?

Congressman Rigell:

Correct.  It is real simple, if you just take the total tax revenues for the past 11 years and divide it by the total GDP for that same period, I have the view, and the belief – I am convinced of this – that that represents an average.  There were some really good times in those years, there were some times of a severe, really difficult economy, like we are in now, but overall, it yields around 17 percent.  Again, our 50 year average is about 18.5 percent.

Betty Liu:

So we are almost there then?

Congressman Rigell:

Right, that is my point.  So principally this is a reduction of expenditures and that is why I can sign up with a three to one ratio of reducing spending to revenue going up.  Again, I do want to point out, it is so important, that there are about 30 job bills that are now in the Senate and I know, as an entrepreneur, that they would unleash the great job producing potential of the American entrepreneur.  There are about 18,000 jobs just in my own district that are bottled up because of the ban on offshore drilling and harvesting of our resources off the coast of Virginia.  That troubles me.

Betty Liu:

Congressman, as I mentioned you have this relationship with Warren Buffett.  Have you talked to him since your victory?  I know you mentioned something that you wrote a letter to him?

Congressman Rigell:

I just wrote him a note a couple of days ago to let him know that I won and that I appreciated his support.  I am hopeful and I am quite sure that we will talk here soon.  He is really busy, and coming through this challenging election in Virginia too, it just took me a few days to catch my breath.  We are back to work, we are ready to go, the sun is shining in Washington, and I am an optimist by nature.

Betty Liu:

You are indeed Congressman, thank you so much and I am sure you will be hearing back from Warren Buffett.  Thank you so much Congressman Rigell from Virginia.

Congressman Rigell:

Thank you, Betty.


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