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Jack Lew: More Revenue Needed to Support Government Programs

By Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 28 Jul 2013 10:54 AM

Though taxes were raised earlier this year on the "very high end" of Americans, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says more might be needed to keep government programs afloat.

"We still have a gap in terms of the amount of revenue we need to make sure we support all the things that we do in this country," Lew said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

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Lew said there is a "divergence of views" about tax policy, but added there is a broad sense that the tax code needs simplifying and that loopholes and credits make the system unfair and "distort the economy."

Lew also urged Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans want any such action tied to spending cuts.

Lew wouldn't give a specific date that the ceiling would be reached, but projected the government could stay afloat at least through Labor Day.

"We've been using extraordinary measures since May to pay our bills," Lew said. "We'll do that for as long as we can."

Lew said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the fight over debt limit in 2011 hurt the economy even though the limit eventually was raised. Lew referred to President Barack Obama saying that Washington cannot fix the problems by cutting domestic programs to fund defense.

"That's unacceptable. He won't sign that," Lew said. "The across-the-board cuts are hurting our future."

Lew disagreed with House Speaker John Boehner's claim that the economy is growing too slowly.

Obama "is the first to say we'd like to grow faster and we'd like to be creating more jobs, and we need policies to do that," Lew said on CNN. The speeches Obama made last week focus on what it takes to build "stronger more vibrant middle class," he said.

"The core of the economy is showing signs of health," he said, adding that the American people need Washington to do its work and "stop creating crises."

Lew indicated there will be no help for Detroit from Washington in the form of a federal bailout. While he said the administration does "stand with Detroit," any help for the bankrupt city would come in the form of existing programs. But the city will have to work out problems with its creditors.

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Asked on "Meet the Press," about whether Obama's words last week on "phony scandals" referred to the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Lew agreed that such targeting was wrong. But he said that several investigations of the matter have shown "there is no evidence of any political involvement."

For Republicans to continue to press the issue as a political cover-up was one of the "phony scandals" to which Obama was referring, Lew said.

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