SPRINGFIELD -- Congress could help solve the federal government’s debt problem by revamping the tax system to remove most deductions while lowering general income-tax rates, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock said in Springfield Tuesday.

SPRINGFIELD -- Congress could help solve the federal government’s debt problem by revamping the tax system to remove most deductions while lowering general income-tax rates, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock said in Springfield Tuesday.

Schock, R-Peoria, said a bipartisan group from the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, of which Schock is a member, is working on a reform plan.

“We’re trying to get rid of as many deductions as we can and lower the rate, which is easier for people but also, at the end of the day, generates more revenue,” Schock said.

He later told the Sangamon County Republican Network that removing all deductions would reduce top tax rates to 23 to 26 percent – down from the 30s. But he also said that rate would creep up to 27 or 28 percent if deductions remain for charitable contributions and mortgage interest. He said later he supports both those deductions.

Schock recently voted to raise the debt limit. That bill also set up a group of 12 members of Congress to come up with $1.5 trillion in budget cuts.

“I would be surprised if tax increases are a part of the committee’s work,” Schock said.

While Democrats have said people earning more than $250,000 a year should pay more taxes, Schock said more than half of those targeted by such a change would actually be small businesses.

“I don’t think it’s smart to raise taxes when we have 9.2 percent unemployment,” he said. “If you want job creators to hire and invest, you can’t be taking more and more revenue away from them.”

Schock also said he does not think the tea party movement, which helped dozens of freshman Republicans win seats in the House, should be blamed for the recent downgrade of America’s debt by Standard & Poor’s. Many tea party supporters resisted deals to raise the debt ceiling.

“What has caused the uncertainty about the future of our country is the lack of a plan, the lack of a substantive bill that people can point to and say, ‘Wow, our country is serious about getting its debt under control,’” Schock said. “The debate is not the problem. It’s the substance of the result.”

He also called it “nonsense” to think raising taxes would have avoided the downgrade.

“Even if you raise taxes to 100 percent of all income over 250 grand, it wouldn’t be enough to fill the $1.6 trillion in debt that we’ve got this year,” he said.

But Schock also indicated it wasn’t realistic not to raise the debt ceiling. Obligations for programs such as Social Security and Medicare, military support and interest payments make it impossible not to borrow, he said.

“You cannot just cut in the short term to solve this,” Schock said.

Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at (217) 788-1540.