Ros-Lehtinen, Buchanan Say Their Fiscal Cliff Votes Blocked Crippling Taxes
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U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, explained their fiscal-cliff votes to support the Senate compromise as a means to avert the threat of “crippling taxes on the majority of Americans.”
Both also expressed hope that spending cuts would be addressed quickly after the next Congress is sworn in.
“While the legislation is not perfect (it does nothing to address out-of-control spending), we could not allow gridlock to push the nation off the fiscal cliff and risk an economic meltdown,” Buchanan stated in a release on Wednesday.
Ros-Lehtinen and Buchanan were among the five Republicans from Florida to vote in favor of Senate Bill 8, officially called the “American Taxpayer Relief Act,” joining Reps. Bill Young, R-Indian River Shores, Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.
Young, Crenshaw and Diaz-Balart explained their votes late Tuesday.
The bill that averts $600 billion in tax hikes was approved 257-167 in the House, with all of Florida's Democrats in support.
The bill fails to prevent an increase in taxes to those with high incomes, while including provisions that block for two months a hike in milk prices and spending cuts, extends unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and stops a 27 percent cut to fees for doctors treating Medicare patients.
“This legislation reduced taxes for 99 percent of American taxpayers and ensures that seniors on Medicare can continue to see the doctor of their choice. While the legislation is not perfect (it does nothing to address out-of-control spending), we could not allow gridlock to push the nation off the fiscal cliff and risk an economic meltdown.
“It is my expectation that the spending issue will be addressed by Congress in the next 60 days.
“Please let me know what you think of last night’s passage of the bipartisan ‘American Taxpayer Relief Act.’”
“Along with a bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate, I supported the “American Taxpayer Relief Act” to provide tax relief for the middle class, married couples, families with kids and Floridians who benefit from the state sales tax deduction. This legislation makes permanent the 2001 tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people and 97 percent of small businesses.
“This bill will also postpone automatic across-the-board spending cuts that could have endangered our national security and will allow more time to replace them with more targeted spending cuts. During a time of economic recession, when we are still suffering from long-term unemployment, we can ill afford efforts that would have further stagnated our economy.
“I support significant spending cuts and tax reform in order to deal with the mushrooming $16 trillion debt which Congress will address later this year. We need to make a careful review of our complicated tax code to remove special interest tax loopholes. Our country’s massive debt exists because our government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
“In 2001, my colleagues and I pushed for, and achieved, substantial tax relief for working Americans. That tax relief included lower tax rates, an enhanced child tax credit and relief from the marriage penalty, just to name a few provisions. Now, we have acted to make those tax cuts permanent – protecting middle-class Americans from the higher tax rates that were in place when President Bill Clinton occupied the White House.
“Among the key reforms in this bill are:
“Income taxes will stay at current rates for middle income households making less than $450,000 per year ($400,000 for individuals). This is a huge tax cut relative to the fiscal cliff tax rates, which would have increased taxes for everyone.
“The death tax will remain basically the same for families and small businesses by exempting estates over $5 million at a 40 percent tax rate. Without this bill, it would have risen to a 55 percent rate on estates over $1 million.
“Unemployment benefits will be extended for one year.
“The Alternative Minimum Tax will not hit over 30 million middle-income Americans.
“Nearly 25 million working families and students will continue to benefit from the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps families pay for college.
“Millions of Medicare patients will not be hurt by drastic cuts in reimbursement rates.
“This vote has saved millions of American families and small business from increased federal income taxes which, in these tough economic times, could be devastating. It is one of the largest tax cuts in history.
“Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a bipartisan effort to ensure a full economic recovery by passing sensible spending cuts that eliminate waste in government and reforming our complicated tax code.
“Now we can put this behind us and, in the new Congress, focus on reducing spending without the looming threat of crippling taxes on the majority of Americans.”
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.