Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, called for more cooperation between Republicans and Democrats when the two appeared together Friday at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch to discuss a bipartisan bill to trim the deficit.
Murphy and Joyce are members of a bipartisan group of House freshmen seeking to find common ground on deficit issues. They co-sponsored a bill called the Savings, Accountability, Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Act, which identifies about $200 billion in savings over 10 years by adopting efficiency recommendations from the Government Accountability Office.
The $200 billion amounts to about 3 percent of the $6.3 trillion in projected deficits over the next decade, but Murphy and Joyce said their bill is at least a start.
“We are not going to solve the world’s problems overnight. We are freshman members. But we’re changing the tone and step by step that’s what we need to do in this country is change the tone and get back to bipartisanship,” Murphy said.
“I view myself as a fact-based problem solver,” said Joyce, a former prosecutor whose district includes some Cleveland suburbs and northeast Ohio. “It’s about time we take off our red jerseys and we take off our blue jerseys and we put on our red-white-and-blue jerseys and do what’s right for this country.”
Murphy and Joyce were asked by an audience member if they feared that working across the aisle would make them targets for a primary challenge.
Joyce decried the influence of conservative groups that pressure Republican House members to vote their way or face primary opposition. He specifically mentioned Grover Norquist of Americans For Tax Reform, which asks candidates to pledge to oppose all tax increases.
“I want taxes to do go down. But we can’t sign stupid pledges that abdicate our responsibility to some outside party,” Joyce said.
While Murphy and Joyce and other Democrats and Republicans found common ground on some of the efficiency recommendations put forward by the GAO, fundamental differences remain between the parties on such larger issues as raising taxes or finding savings in Social Security and Medicare.
Asked by an audience member if there is any “middle ground” on entitlement reform, Murphy mentioned President Barack Obama’s recent proposal to slow down future Social Security cost-of-living increases by adopting a new calculation called “chained CPI.”
“Our president took an effort at it when he put chained CPI on the table. This is something that Democrats were in arms about and it isn’t probably the approach I would have taken. I would focus on health care costs,” Murphy said.
Joyce, who earlier called the federal health care law a “train wreck,” said, “The other thing I don’t like about the Affordable Care Act is it did nothing to smash the health care cost curve.”
Joyce didn’t mention specifics, but likened decades-old entitlement programs to vintage cars or rotary phones.
“Things changed over these last 30 years, and we need to change our system accordingly,” Joyce said.