As might be expected, the Tri-State’s congressional delegation was split on the recent deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Of the 13 lawmakers in our region, six voted in favor of the compromise, while seven were opposed.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on New Year’s Day, the House passed a bill to avoid the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that many people worried would harm the fragile U.S. economy.
The House vote was 257-167. In all, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans supported the measure. Earlier in the day, the Senate approved the amended bill in an 89-8 vote.
Without the deal, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts would’ve occurred over the next decade, beginning this week.
Under the compromise, tax rates will increase for individuals who earn more than $400,000 annually, and for couples who earn more than $450,000 annually.
Also, the deal includes other increases in the estate tax, capital gains tax and dividend tax under certain conditions.
Overall, the bill will increase tax revenues by $620 billion over 10 years. An analysis shows it will raise taxes by $41 for every $1 cut from the budget.
The vote is the national Republican Party’s first vote in support of higher taxes in two decades, and is believed to be the biggest tax hike in roughly 40 years.
The deal will add about $4 trillion to the deficit when compared to current law, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Here’s what Tri-State politicians had to say about their votes.
** "YES" VOTES –
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio 8th District):
“The federal government has a spending problem that has led to a $16 trillion national debt that threatens our country’s future. On the day after the election, I proposed that both parties work together to avert the fiscal cliff in a manner that would ensure 2013 is the year we finally enact entitlement reform and pro-growth tax reform to begin to solve our country’s debt problem."
Boehner added, “Now the focus turns to spending. The American people re-elected a Republican majority in the House, and we will use it in 2013 to hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt."
He continued, “Without meaningful reform of entitlements, real spending controls, and a fairer, cleaner tax code, our debt will continue to grow, and our economy will continue to stumble. Republicans stand for a stronger, more prosperous America, rich in opportunity and free of the debt that threatens our children’s future. On this New Year’s Day, we renew our commitment to that vision, humbled by the opportunity to serve.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio):
“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."
Portman added, “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 US government has once again hit the nation's debt limit."
He continued, “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.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):
"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."
Brown added, "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."
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):
“I know I can speak for my entire conference when I say we don’t think taxes should be going up on anyone, but we all knew that if we did nothing they’d be going up on everyone today. We weren’t going to let that happen."
McConnell added, “Each of us could spend the rest of the week discussing what a perfect solution would have looked like, but the end result would have been the largest tax increase in American history. The president wanted tax increases, but thanks to this imperfect agreement, 99 percent of my constituents won’t be hit by those hikes. So, it took an imperfect solution to prevent our constituents from very real financial pain. But in my view, it was worth the effort.”
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.):
Lugar didn't issue a statement after the vote. But on Dec. 10, he made
the following comment to Indiana Public Media, “I think the shock to our economy of that, quite apart from reflections in the stock markets and what have you, would be disastrous in terms of the growth of jobs.”
Further, Lugar said he believed the nation would have as much as a 3 percent drop in the gross national product if a deal wasn’t reached.
Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.):
“This stop gap measure is simply the lesser of two evils. Allowing our country to slip off the fiscal cliff and raise taxes on every American is unacceptable. American taxpayers should not have to pay the price for Washington’s dysfunction. The cost of not acting could result in an average tax increase of $4,000 on Hoosier families and $2,800 on individuals."
Coats added, “Through hard negotiations, Republicans were able to protect 99 percent of all taxpayers from any tax hikes and permanently lock in the current lower rates. This fiscal cliff deal is not a long-term solution; it is only round one. Round two is only weeks away when the Treasury is scheduled to reach the limit of its borrowing authority, at which time we must confront and correct our spending problem.”
** "NO" VOTES –
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio 1 st District):
“I couldn’t, in good faith, support the deal for many reasons. After the Senate passed the deal, the White House issued a statement saying 'For the first time in 20 years, Congress will have acted on a bipartisan basis to vote for significant new revenue.' 'Revenue' is the word politicians now use when they mean 'taxes,' but don’t want to say it or admit it. New 'revenue' means new taxes. As I’ve said over and over again, we aren’t under-taxed, the government over-spends. So in my view, we shouldn’t be raising taxes on anyone, period. We should be cutting spending…”
Chabot added, “The bottom line is, this deal raises taxes now, with a promise to maybe cut spending down the road. And just the other day, President Obama said he intends to raise taxes even more. And this is all on top of a trillion dollars in new Obamacare taxes, which are already scheduled to kick in this year.”
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio 2 nd District):
Although she didn’t issue a press release about her final vote in office, Schmidt spoke on the House floor for the congressional record. “The American public expects more from us, but the American public also expects us to recognize that we are spending their money, and we are spending ourselves into a debt that we will not be able to repay," Schmidt said. "Our children and our grandchildren will be the heirs of our misspending of our taxpayer dollars.”
She added, “I voted ‘no’ tonight because we were increasing our debt limit at an unprecedented proportion. My dear colleagues in this House, as I leave this body, I ask you to be conservative in your votes on spending. Remember, we have children and grandchildren that will be saddled with this debt. We are a great country, but we are a great country because we can afford to pay our bills. Let us not lead down into the path of fiscal irresponsibility or that will no longer be the case.”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio 3 rd District):
Turner was concerned that cuts under the sequestration would’ve affected Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in his district, and lead to layoffs there.
Although Turner didn't issue a statement about his vote, he tweeted during negotiations, “It is most important to address the economic situation where so many people are still out of work. Raising taxes on #SmallBiz example of more fed gov't spending at the expense of the middle class.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky. 4 th District):
“This plan is Washington kicking the can down the road,” Massie said. “The modest spending cuts agreed to in the 2011 debt ceiling deal are postponed by this bill. This bill does nothing to reform our bloated tax code -- in fact, the bill perpetuates Obama’s failed stimulus spending within the tax code. Finally, it fails to address entitlement reform or the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.”
Massie added, “Democrats and Republicans in Congress are once again committing doublespeak by labeling tax increases as tax cuts, and spending increases as spending cuts. I am confident that the American people will see through this.”
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind. 6 th District):
Also casting his last vote in office, Pence said, “I am opposed to the Senate legislation dealing with the so-called 'fiscal cliff,' because it fails to make needed spending cuts while increasing taxes on small business owners.”
He added, "Washington, D.C. does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. I cannot support more taxes, more spending and one more illusory promise of spending reforms in the future.”
Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind. 9 th District):
“I am deeply disappointed that the bill passed by the Senate not only fails to include significant spending restraint, but instead extends stimulus spending. It does very little to restore a degree of certainty to our economy, and
the continued refusal to seriously address our largest and most unsustainable programs of government could likely result in further credit rating downgrades, interest rate increases, business failures, and job losses.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.):
"Americans began ringing in the New Year moments ago, many with the uncertainty of their financial stability as a result of the fiscal cliff negotiations we have heard so much about over the past weeks," Paul said.
He added, "While I appreciate my colleagues’ efforts to protect taxpayers – I don’t think the deal we reached tonight went far enough in achieving that. The combination of raising taxes and increasing spending is not in Americans’ best interest, and I could not, in good faith, support this piece of legislation.”
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