By Kevin Kelley
As a recent appointee to the House Ways and Means Committee, the House’s chief tax-writing committee, Rep. Jim Renacci said the issue of tax reform is one of his main concerns, with the goal being a reduction of rates and simpler rules and procedures.
In part of his effort to get to know the new sections of his redrawn 16th District, Renacci spoke March 28 at Fairview Park City Hall as a guest speaker at Cuyahoga County Councilman Dave Greenspan’s latest town hall meeting.
Among those attending were about a dozen protesters from Organizing for Action, a Democratic Party group, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. After first marching in front of City Hall, they sat politely in the council chambers where Renacci spoke. Their signs expressed messages in favor of gun control, especially more background checks.
Renacci, an NRA member, took a number of questions from the protesters. He declined to draw a line in the sand on what gun control measures he might be willing to vote for. The congressman said he is waiting for a proposal to come out of the Senate, where legislation is currently being negotiated. Asked if he would consider “common-sense” gun laws, Renacci replied, “I’m considered a common sense congressman.
“A majority of these incidents have mental health issues behind them,” Renacci said, referring to recent fatal shootings that have troubled the nation. He said background checks on gun purchasers should be strengthened, but did not elaborate.
Asked by a protestor about national polls showing support for stronger gun regulation, Renacci said calls from his constituents to his office show strong support for the Second Amendment. He noted that while President Barack Obama won Ohio in last year’s presidential election, Republican challenger Mitt Romney won his district by 8 percentage points.
On the matter of the federal budget, Renacci’s other top concern, the congressman noted that the Democrat-controlled Senate passed its first budget in four years. The Republican-led House also passed a budget.
“The good thing is we have two budgets. They’re polar opposites,” he said. The Democratic budget seeks nearly $1 trillion in new tax revenue. But Renacci said taxes were already raised at the start of the year. He criticized Obama and the Democrats for not wanting to talk about spending cuts.
Renacci said budget and tax policy should eliminate loopholes and encourage job creation. The corporate tax rate should be cut to be more competitive with those of other nations.
“Clearly, we can’t leave the corporate tax rate at 35 percent,” he said. “Even the president agrees on that.”
Renacci said it would make sense for Congress, like the Ohio legislature, to work on passing a budget every two years rather than every year.