House Democratic Whip: 'I Don’t Mean Necessarily Tax Increases'

By Edwin Mora | September 12, 2011 | 12:08 PM EDT

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( – House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) told reporters last week that the federal government cannot reduce its budget deficit if it does not "grow revenues"--although he said that does not "necessarily" mean raising taxes.

“We must grow the economy,” said Hoyer at a Sept. 7 Capitol Hill press briefing.  “We will not get the deficit down if we don’t grow revenues--and I don’t mean necessarily tax increases--but growing, getting people back to work, getting people making money, and getting people paying taxes whether it’s FICA [payroll] taxes [used to fund Social Security and Medicare] or income taxes or some other kind of tax.”

The U.S. national debt was $14.68 trillion on Sept. 8, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Hoyer said he has offered his “influence and abilities” to 10 of the 12 members on the bi-partisan special committee established as part of the $2.4 trillion debt-ceiling deal passed in early August. The panel is charged with generating at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. If it is unable to do so, $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts, split 50-50 between domestic and defense spending, would kick in in 2013.

“I’ve made very clear to each one of them that I want to work for them and I will use whatever influence and abilities that I have to accomplish success creating a consensus within the committee to make recommendations to bring down our debt and deficit and to grow jobs,” Hoyer told reporters last week. “You can’t bring down the debt and deficit within the long-term if you don’t grow the economy.”

President Barack Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. Watching are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

He suggested to the committee that “in the short-term you’ve got to grow the economy [and] in the longer-term you have to get the deficit and debt under control and you have to do so by addressing all, all elements of the budget.”

Paying interest on the debt “is an item that must be done, but all other items should be on the table and all the members should be willing to address all of those items,” said Hoyer.

During the briefing, Hoyer criticized Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.), a member of the special committee, for suggesting that the panel members exclude entitlement cuts and tax increases in their quest for deficit reduction.

That could end up fueling the American public’s lack of confidence in their government’s ability’s to overcome tough obstacles, noted Hoyer.

“If we do that, we cannot succeed in the manner that we need to succeed,” he said.

“The American people are very frustrated, they do not believe that their government is working,” said Hoyer, who later added, “they’re right it’s not working and we have a responsibility to make it work -- we, everybody, not Democrats, not Republicans, we as a collective.”

As reported in the National Journal and other media, Sen. Kyl said last week that “if either outside forces or the president or even members of Congress were to force the committee members into situations where you have to compromise our principles, that’s going to be very, very hard to do.”