Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., believes Congress should consider repatriating money from overseas assets to fund transportation and infrastructure projects as part of a potential deal to increase the debt limit, he said Monday.
Graham said he would be willing to support a short-term clean debt limit hike as long as it cleared the way for larger budget negotiations. He then went on to provide some provisions he would like to see approved, including a measure "to repatriate money for stimulus."
"On the revenue side, I mean there's a lot of money parked overseas. One thing I know interests the body is infrastructure spending on roads and bridges and ports," Graham said. "You could take some of this offshore money that's kind of parked because of the 35 percent rate, do a one time deal and generate some revenue to pay for some infrastructure."
A repatriation holiday that would give corporations a break on the 35 percent corporate tax rate if they bring their profits home has been kicking around for years, backed by Wall Street and big multinational companies who have billions at stake. The government would get an upfront infusion of cash as the money is brought home despite a reduced tax rate.
"I think everybody in the Congress has a bill to repatriate money for stimulus," Graham continued. "Eventually, we'll do it."
The idea has plenty of critics however, including lawmakers who would rather reform the corporate tax code as a whole.
Graham said that any vote to increase the debt ceiling without also including deficit reduction or stimulative measures — like the one Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is planning this week — is "just a political exercise."
He said his preference was to "guarantee a process that may lead to an outcome, kind of like a truncated super committee." (Perhaps the South Carolina Republican already has forgotten how the super committee worked out?)
"I mean what do you tell people at home? You're going to keep borrowing money forever?" Graham said.