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U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye says Congress must close tax loopholes used by big businesses to help control the nation’s debt.
But, he said Democrats must also consider cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Hawaii’s senior senator says he told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he won’t serve on the so-called “super committee” of six senators and six U.S. representatives tasked with finding ways to reduce deficit spending by another $1.5 trillion.
And, in response to reporters’ questions, Inouye expressed confidence that federal funding for Honolulu rail would not be jeopardized by the fiscal crisis in Washington, D.C.
Inouye said Washington must find a way to raise revenues, but not necessarily by raising taxes.
He suggested the money should come ending tax deductions for oil companies, and he frowned at the use of corporate jets and the establishment of offshore offices to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Inouye, who spoke to reporters Monday morning at his Honolulu office, touched on a range of issues.
The senator said troop numbers stationed in Hawaii could increase as part of the shift of thousands of U.S. military personnel from Okinawa to Guam.
And, in spite of the partisan budget battles in D.C., Inouye said he expected Hawaii to receive federal help to pay for costs stemming from Micronesian migrants in the islands.
Inouye said the federal assistance for COFA could apply as well to health services in the three COFA nations. In May, Hawaii’s congressional delegation said improved services would help curb Micronesian numbers in Hawaii.
Inouye was asked if Sen. Akaka might step down before the end of his term next year, as has been rumored.
“You should look at that from the standpoint of Mr. Akaka,” Inouye responded. “After all, he got elected and wants to finish. I would not want to tell him to cut it short — and I would hate to have someone tell me that.”
Translation: Akaka will stay on.
Inouye reiterated that he would publicly stay out of the Democratic primary next August in the race to succeed Akaka.
And, despite having had “his ups and downs,” Inouye said Barack Obama remains the best candidate of either party to win the presidency in 2012.
The senator admitted that he had his own interest in Democrats keeping not only the White House but the Senate.
Because he is the oldest Democrat in the Senate, Inouye is the president pro-tempore and thus afforded Secret Service protection.
“I am driven around,” Inouye said, smiling. “It’s a good life.”