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The Suburbanite
  • Stark-area lawmakers weigh in on fiscal cliff votes

  • Stark County’s congressmen and senators issued statements on their votes on the fiscal cliff deal that passed New Year’s Day.

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  • What does the fiscal cliff deal approved by the U.S. Senate and House on New Year’s Day in the waning days of the 112th Congress do?
    Among several things, it:
    • permanently stops the scheduled increase in 2013 of federal income tax rates back to 1990s levels for everyone earning less than $400,000 a year,
    • extends tax credits like the child tax credit and earned income tax credit for five years,
    • limits tax credits and deductions for many earning more than $200,000 a year,
    • extends federal unemployment benefits for a year,
    • temporarily prevents a dramatic increase in milk prices,
    • and temporarily prevents a significant cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors.
    It also permanently blocks the alternative minimum tax from affecting middle-income taxpayers and increases the estate tax to 40 percent of the value of an individual’s estate over $5 million.
    The deal did not prevent the scheduled return Tuesday in the Social Security payroll tax rate back to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent. Households that earn $50,000 a year will experience in 2013 a cut in take-home pay of $1,000 as a result.
    The new 0.9 percent tax on pay over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for households and 3.8 percent tax on investments for those higher-income earners also took effect Tuesday under the Affordable Care Act. The money will be spent on subsidizing health insurance for poor and middle-class families. Also, the legislative battles over increasing the debt ceiling to prevent a debt default and modifying automatic across-the-board federal budget cuts were deferred to February.
    The Senate approved the bill 89-8, and the House passed it 257-167, with most House Republicans opposing it because it implemented no major spending cuts and raised taxes for high-income earners.
     Stark County’s congressmen and senators issued the following statements about their votes on the legislation:
    U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who voted “no”:
    “This bill spends too much, taxes too much and cuts far too little. It will not balance our budget or even come close to eliminating our massive yearly deficits. Worst of all, it continues the Washington traditions of kicking the can down the road and putting off hard decisions about how we must change the way the federal government spends our money. Those decisions need to be made. Now was the time to do it and the opportunity has been wasted by both parties.
    At the end of the day this legislation doesn’t fix the problem, which is Washington’s spending addiction. I could not in good conscience vote for this package knowing it does not reform our broken tax code or set us on a course toward a fiscally sustainable future.”
    U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, who voted “yes”:
    Page 2 of 3 - “This compromise agreement —which represents concessions from both Republicans and Democrats — prevents a tax increase on approximately 98 percent of the country’s taxpayers, extends unemployment benefits for RG Steel employees and others, and extends the farm bill for one-year. This agreement also extends important middle-class tax breaks such as the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit.
    In addition, the continuation of the production tax credit (PTC) will insure that we are investing in wind and solar energies, and businesses will immediately be able to write off 50 percent of capital investments made next year, helping to create needed manufacturing jobs.
    This agreement, like every negotiation, contains things for each side to love and hate.”
     The office of U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, who voted “no”:
    “Throughout the president’s entire campaign, he spoke of seeking a ‘balanced’ approach to solve the fiscal cliff. Yet last night, a bill was brought to the floor that raises taxes on small businesses and offers zero spending cuts. In fact, the bill that was before Congress last night actually increases spending by $330 billion, while adding almost $4 trillion to the deficit. I was also appalled at the president’s comments this week that future negotiations by House Republicans to cut spending would be met with additional tax increases.
    There certainly are some components of the bill with which I agree, including provisions for which I have voted to support throughout the past two years. I always supported extending the 2012 tax rates for all income levels, as well as repealing the death tax and the alternative minimum tax. However, in the end, this bill raised taxes on many Americans and job creators, and does not address the country’s most dire spending problem.  We must find a balanced solution that addresses the crux of this economic crisis, which is the federal government’s abhorrent and reckless spending...
    This country’s deficit spending is unsustainable. Passing a bill without addressing it is downright irresponsible and will ultimately lead to less economic opportunities and more hardships. This legislation does nothing to balance the budget, and worse, it serves as a punishment to hardworking Americans who have developed successful businesses. It stifles our already fragile economy, keeping the private sector from prospering. Last night’s bill is absolutely not the answer to our economic crisis.”
    Note: The Congressional Budget office estimates that the fiscal cliff deal would result in a budget deficit of an additional $4 trillion over 10 years compared to the deficit if all the Bush tax cut provisions had expired and tax rates increased back to 1990s levels. The nonprofit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that under the deal, the deficit will be decreased by $650 billion over 10 years from the deficit that would have resulted if all the Bush tax cut rates and repeated temporary patches to the tax code had continued.
    Page 3 of 3 - U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, who voted “yes”:
    “I supported the fiscal cliff agreement because it stops huge tax increases from being imposed on the overwhelming majority of Ohio’s families and job creators.
    I am also pleased that the $1.2 trillion sequester put in place by the Budget Control Act will not be unwound.  Although I will keep fighting to reallocate the across-the-board cuts in our defense programs, with the debt at record levels, Washington cannot let the spending cuts lapse. It is reassuring to see that we’ve also been able to stop the president’s planned salary increases for Congress on the same day the Treasury tells us the U.S. government has once again hit the nation’s debt limit.
    Now that the fiscal cliff has been averted, Congress and the Obama administration must move forward on pro-growth tax reform and reform of the important but unsustainable entitlement programs.”
    U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, who voted “yes”:
    “While this deal isn’t perfect, it represents an important down payment in reducing the deficit and getting America’s fiscal house in order. It also prevents dangerous cuts to Social Security and reduces the deficit by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. Moving forward, I’ll be working to ensure that future deficit reduction efforts are based around shared sacrifice rather than balancing the budget on the backs of seniors, middle class families, and working Americans.”