Van Hollen on Bloomberg: ‘We need to close tax loopholes and generate additional revenue’

Nov 7, 2011

Washington, DC – Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, today appeared on Bloomberg Television to discuss the deficit committee’s work. Video of the interview is available here and the transcript is below.

PETER COOK, BLOOMBERG: And the member of the panel is Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee and a member of the Supercommittee. Thank you for the time. Where do we stand 16 days out? 

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Everyone is working very hard to try and get the job done. I think that everyone is very conscious of the deadline, the clock is ticking. We have a ways to go before we reach an agreement, we are working towards that – and again the jury is still out. 

COOK: Are you even more skeptical now of a final deal now than when this process started? There are certainly people here in Washington that don’t think you will do it. 

VAN HOLLEN: Well I think we have always known that this will be tough. We have been asked to tackle an issue that has escaped resolution by the entire Congress over a long period of time. So, we always knew this would be a tough task. And as we bear down in the last 16 days, we hope to try and get it done. 

COOK: Right now, what is the sticking point? I know that you can’t get into specific negotiations, but is it still a question of tax increases? You all want them and Republicans don’t? 

VAN HOLLEN: What we said from the beginning is that this bipartisan group, the Joint Committee, should follow the same kind of model, the same kind of framework that every other bipartisan group has taken to try to tackle this issue. You’ve got Simpson-Bowles, Rivlin-Domenici, Gang of Six – all said that we’ve got to make some really tough decision on cuts – which we have to do – but they’ve also said we need to have a revenue component. You need to close some of these tax loopholes and you need to generate additional revenue. And so that balance is going to be important. We saw the dueling letters just last week. We had a bipartisan group in the House that said, “Look, everything is on the table including revenues – tax revenues.” And within 24 hours you had 33 Senators say, “no new net tax revenues.” 

COOK: Did those letters have any impact on the negotiations, as far as you can tell?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we will have to ask our Republican colleagues what effect they had, but it put its finger on one of the big issues, obviously, in getting the balance. 

COOK: What is your sense right now about the market implications of the decision to come? There are a lot of folks out there saying, “If you do not reach a deal, we could be looking at another downgrade.”

VAN HOLLEN: Well I think that every member of the committee has stressed the importance of trying to get a deal. One, just for the American people – showing that the process can work, and this has been a broken process, so that would obviously be a breakthrough. It also could have a positive impact on the markets. As you know, different rating agencies have said different things. Recently, Moody’s said if we did not get to the $1.2 trillion – because the sequester we would also get $1.2 trillion, we may not get a downgrade. But putting all of that aside whether there is or isn’t, and obviously we want to get something done both for the markets but more importantly for the American people and the economy as a whole.

COOK: Real quickly, the Congressional Budget Office says that you guys have to get a plan to them earlier than the November 23rd deadline for them to be able to score it, does that mean that you have to have a plan in place this week?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, this is a critical week. I don’t think that there is any absolute “drop-dead” deadline but certainly, if you wanted to get an agreement you have to have time to actually write the details out and the CBO will need time to score it. Exactly what moment that is, that is unknown, but we shouldn’t take chances. You do not want to get to the point where you have an agreement and it’s too late because you could not get the paperwork done. 

COOK: Alright, Chris Van Hollen, back at it as a member of the supercommittee. Good luck in your negotiations.