Texas Rep. Kay Granger: Congress has a chance 'to fix things'


The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

U.S. House members returning to work today face two key issues before the end of the year: trying to avoid the looming fiscal cliff and determining whether to continue the Bush tax cuts.

"The issues are huge," U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said Monday. "This is the most difficult time.

"The stakes have never been higher."

Granger and others gather today in Washington, D.C., to spend the next five weeks crafting a plan to avoid tax increases and government spending reductions that without any congressional action would go into effect next year.

She knows the government remains deeply divided, but she's optimistic that elected officials will do the right thing.

"In a campaign, compromise is a very bad word," Granger told a crowd of about 350 Monday at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce's Leaders in Government Series at the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa. "But that's what politicians do to be effective.

"Yes, we can get out of this mess."

Congressional leaders across the country have spent the weeks since the Nov. 6 presidential election with constituents trying to identify priorities and any approaches recommended for dealing with the tough issues of the day.

At the top of their to-do list is finding a plan they can agree on to prevent massive across-the-board cuts from going into effect. These cuts were triggered by a supercommittee's inability last year to identify ways to significantly cut the federal deficit over the next decade.

But Granger and others say Congress still has time to come up with a compromise to prevent those spending cuts from automatically occurring.

Granger said part of the solution may well rest with addressing some of the government's biggest costs -- Medicare and Social Security -- as well as potentially revamping the nation's tax system.

"This is an opportunity for us to fix things," she said. "But it may be a patch to get through the fiscal cliff.

"Don't turn your backs on us if that happens," she said, adding that she believes a long-term solution will follow.

Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison recently said she believes elected officials will work together to do what is needed.

"I believe we will come up with a way forward," she said during Sunday's State of the Union program on CNN. "Do I think we're going to do everything by the end of this year? Probably not.

"But I think we will not have a fiscal cliff," she said. "We will have a plan, hopefully, to go forward."

A second priority, Granger said, is addressing the Bush tax cuts.

These cuts went into effect after 9-11 as a way to try to temporarily help Americans and the economy as well. Set to expire in 2010, the cuts have since been extended. Without another extension, the cuts will expire in 2013.

Several local officials say they believe the cuts, which give a typical middle-class family a tax break of about $2,200 a year, should be extended again. Otherwise, families nationwide will see tax increases for everything from child tax credits to employee payroll taxes.

"Right now ... is not the time to have the most massive tax increase since World War II," Granger said.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, said she wants to see the tax cuts extended as well.

"For the good of our country and our economy, we must work together to quickly extend tax cuts for 98 percent of all Americans," Johnson said in a statement sent out Monday.

"If Congress fails to act, middle-class families will see their income taxes go up in 2013.

"It is essential that we work together to provide certainty and peace of mind to families, retailers and small businesses during this holiday season."

Reach Anna M. Tinsley at atinsley@star-telegram.com. Twitter: @annatinsley

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

FILE - This May, 15, 2014 file photo shows the entrance of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. A leading Washington philanthropist is presenting an alternate plan to save one of the nation’s oldest museums in court hearings this week over whether to break up the trust from 1869 that established the Corcoran Gallery of Art and later its college.

    Philanthropist calls for saving Corcoran in court

    Wayne Reynolds, a leading Washington philanthropist, laid out an alternative plan in court hearings this week to save one of the nation's oldest museums and its college as a judge considers whether to break up the nearly 150-year-old Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Lois Lerner emails obtained from the House Ways and Means Committee are displayed in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.  A former IRS official at the heart of the agency's tea party controversial called Republicans "crazies" and more in newly released emails. Lois Lerner used to head the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with a colleague in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about members of the GOP, including one remark that was profane. Republican Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the emails Wednesday as part of his committee's investigation. Camp says the emails show Lerner's disgust with conservatives.

    GOP: Lerner emails show bias against conservatives

    Congressional investigators say this is why they want all of Lois Lerner's emails.

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2004, file photo, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks at a news conference in Washington at the State Department. A document circulating among White House staff says a Senate report on the CIA's interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks concludes that the agency initially kept Powell and some U.S. ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons.

    State Dept: 'No American is proud' of CIA tactics

    The State Department has endorsed the broad conclusions of a harshly critical Senate report on the CIA's interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks, a report that accuses the agency of brutally treating terror suspects and misleading Congress, according to a White House document.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category