By CARL STRAUMSHEIM
TAMPA, Fla.—Rep. Andy Harris blasted state and national Democrats as being obstructionist and too dependent on raising tax revenue to close their deficits, during a speech at the Maryland delegation's breakfast Wednesday morning.
Harris' words were echoed by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who joined Harris in touting their party's vision of a lighter tax burden and decreased government spending, embodied in the budget plan introduced by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
Harris echoed a President George H. W. Bush campaign promise from 1988 when he defended congressional Republicans.
"The first thing we did in the House (of Representatives) is that we said, 'No new taxes,'" Harris said. "Do we think we should increase revenue? Of course we do—by lowering taxes like Ronald Reagan did: You grow the economy; you don't raise taxes."
Harris was first elected to the House in 2010 after narrowly losing in 2008 to Frank Kratovil.
"That election night in 2008 wasn't so good for me," Harris said. "It wasn't good for America. We took a turn that was hopefully not irreversible."
Republicans feared Democrats would attempt to unseat Harris when Maryland's congressional districts were redrawn last year. Democrats instead chose to target Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's 6th Congressional District.
Harris faces Democrat Wendy Rosen in his first re-election campaign this fall. Even though the seat isn't expected to be in play this fall, Harris distanced himself from the idea of a do-nothing Congress.
"The House has spent 18 months now sending bills to the Senate," Harris said. "The problem is not the House. The problem is the Senate."
Harris faulted Senate Democrats for refusing to compromise with House Republicans.
"The Ryan budget is the Republican plan to begin negotiations," Harris said. "We have a Senate majority leader who refuses to take action. We have to elect a Republican majority to the Senate and retire Harry Reid from majority leader."
Mead contrasted Maryland with his home state and criticized Gov. Martin O'Malley for not considering other methods of generating new revenue for the state.
"We have no personal income tax, we have no corporate tax, and despite that, we're rated as one of the next five boom states in the country," he said, to sounds of wonder from the crowd. "I also want to say that I don't get credit for that. The private sector gets credit for that."
Mead acknowledged that revenues are down in Wyoming, but said the response should be to cut government agencies—which he praised for doing "good, conducive work"—and not raise taxes.
"While you may think that raising taxes is raising revenue, more often than not, raising taxes is lowering revenue—in addition to making everyone miserable," Mead said.