Sen. Gregg: Tax Increase ‘Likely’ to be Part of Deficit Recommendations

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: A Republican senator serving on President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission said today that a “revenue component” – that is, higher taxes – will “likely” be part of the commission’s recommendations, though he cautioned that the bulk of steps to control the deficit will need to come in the form of spending cuts.

“Everything has to be on the table – there’s no question about that,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., said on ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line” today. “Erskine Bowles, one of the co-chairmen of the commission, has suggested a 75-25 split -- 75 percent of the savings being in spending, and 25 percent in revenues.

“I don't know what the proper variation is, but I do know this: If you look at the numbers, in the last two years, federal spending -- spending -- has gone from 20 percent of GDP up to 25 percent of GDP and is heading towards 28 percent of GDP. Revenues, on the other hand, are projected -- they've historically been about 18.2 percent of GDP -- they're projected to hit about 20 percent of GDP within two years. So this is really a spending problem that we have.”

Gregg, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, added: “I think it's likely that there will have to be a revenue component, but it should be significantly, dramatically -- and a 3-1 ratio is pretty dramatic -- dramatically less than the initiatives in the spending side of the ledger.”

Gregg, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this year, derided a presidentially appointed deficit commission as a “nothing burger” earlier this year, while he was backing a commission whose recommendations would potentially have the force of law, as opposed to recommendations to the president.

But now he feels differently:

“Back when I was pushing with [Sen.] Kent Conrad to have it done by a statutory process -- where we would have actually had the way to enforce the actual actions of the commission through a statutory process -- I felt that doing it on the executive order was a nothing burger compared to what I was proposing. But now, it's the best burger we have.”

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