ATLANTA — The Associated Press sat down recently with the two Republicans competing for Georgia’s open Senate seat to discuss three key issues. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue will meet in a runoff July 22, and the winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in the fall. Below is a discussion on tax reform and how to tackle the nation’s $17.5 trillion debt. Candidate remarks have been edited in some places for length.
AP: Do you believe the United States can substantially reduce its debt by only cutting spending and not seeking additional sources of revenue, and what sort of additional revenues might be possible?
KINGSTON: I believe we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem, that we have to rein in spending. There is a lot of duplications. For example, there are 47 different federal job training programs. And that would mean 47 managers, 47 locations, 47 desks, 47 sets of telephones and policies and letterheads. We actually have passed in the House a bill that consolidates those and reduces it down. And maybe you don’t need (just) one but you don’t need 47 federal job training programs. … Number two, the waste of the programs. There is a 16 percent error rate in school lunch and 25 percent in school breakfast. Surely, Democrats and Republicans could agree on let’s go after that kind of documented waste that the inspectors general have pointed out.
PERDUE: First of all, I don’t believe the answer to our problem is increasing taxes. That just can’t happen. We’ve proven that time and time again. Nor do I believe that we can solve this debt crisis just by cutting spending. … To solve the debt crisis, we have to cut spending, but we also have to get the economy going and that increases revenue without increasing taxes. We have over $2 trillion sitting offshore in foreign banks. These are U.S. profits trapped overseas because of our tax laws. We are the only developed country that has a repatriation tax law on foreign profits, and those monies inadvertently get invested over there. I think you can get bipartisan support for changing that one part of the tax code, I really do. I think that’s a short-term, that can be done right now. And those dollars would come flying, I believe, back into the economy and be invested in creating capital investment and jobs.