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Bass: All options should be on the table to avoid the fiscal cliff

Now in his final days in office, 2nd District Congressman Charlie Bass has echoed a call he made on the campaign trail: All options should be on the table to reduce the national debt.

Bass, a Peterborough Republican who lost his bid for re-election to Hopkinton Democrat Annie Kuster in November, has joined a bipartisan group of dozens of House members pressing congressional leaders to undig their heels a bit in negotiations about the fiscal cliff.

Bass, along with a contingent of other Republicans, has signed a letter encouraging House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to find a “bipartisan common sense solution” to the fiscal cliff, a combination of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect early next year that many fear will trigger another recession.

“To succeed, all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table,” said the House members, led in part by Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat and Steven LaTourette, an Ohio Republican.

President Obama and other Democrats have said that income tax rates for individuals earning $200,000 or more need to go from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Republicans, in turn, say that other tax code reforms, such as placing a cap on the deductions taxpayers can take, is a better solution.

In their letter, the bipartisan group says bringing down the national debt, which is about $16.2 trillion, will take a little bit of everything and a whole lot of compromise.

“We also know from other bipartisan frameworks that savings from all parts of the budget and real reform of the tax system will be necessary to stabilize our debt as a share of the economy and assure America’s fiscal and economic well-being over the long term.”

The letter was done in partnership with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan movement to “put America on a better fiscal and economic path.” Its leaders include Erskine Bowles, former president Bill Clinton’s chief of staff from 1996 to 1998, and former U.S. senator Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican. The two lead a bipartisan commission appointed by President Obama in 2010 to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is also sponsoring an online petition calling on Congress to, among other things, consider the recommendations of Simpson and Boles. About 318,000 had signed it by last night.

It’s not the first time Bass has aligned himself with Cooper and LaTourette. In March, he voted in favor of a budget the two proposed that followed some of the recommendations put forth by Simpson and Boles, which included raising revenue through tax reform.

Molly A.K. Connors can be reached at 369-3319 or mconnors@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @MAKConnors

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