Staff Photo: John Bohn U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. left, greets Gwinnett Chamber President Jim Maran, right, during the Gwinnett Chamber policy luncheon in Duluth Wednesday.
DULUTH -- Even on the day he received another Spirit of Enterprise award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss admitted he has been blasted by conservative radio hosts for "wanting to raise taxes."
But the Republican told business leaders Wednesday his Gang of Six sees a balance in government spending and increasing revenues as the best way to solve the nation's fiscal issues.
"I never want to raise taxes," he said at a Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce luncheon. "What I want to do is invigorate the economy."
Taking lessons from the Bowles-Simpson commission, the Gang of Six leadership group has proposed cutting out exemptions to the corporate tax rate, while at the same time lowering the rate. The additional revenue, estimated at $1.2 trillion, should be divided between lowering the federal debt and lowering the rate, he said.
"The consequences of doing nothing are we are going to be the first generation of Americans to leave this country worse than when we got here," Chambliss said, after listing a number of government issues set to expire or come on line by the end of the year, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and a trigger that could gut government spending across the board, leading to deep cuts to the Department of Defense. "I promise Sen. Isakson and I aren't going to let that happen on our watch."
Jim Maran, president and CEO of the business group, said Chambliss's ideas about changing the tax rate are OK with him.
"If we don't address the deficit, our ability to be a great leader is gone," Maran said. "He's approaching it from a common-sense viewpoint. We've got to pay it down, so there is going to have to be some give and take on both sides, a deficit reducation and a slight revenue increase."
Chambliss said the debt ceiling issue will be the first question for the president inaugurated in January.
"The situation is very dire, and if we don't get our financial house in order, we are going to be the next Greece," he said.