Tonight I voted for a bill that averts huge tax increases for 99 percent of Americans. This bill prevents tax increases on individuals, families and small businesses with income earnings below $450,000 for couples and $400,000 for individuals. Further, this legislation keeps the Death Tax from rising to 55%, as President Obama preferred. It exempts the first $5 million (per spouse) of an estate from taxation. Additionally, the Alternative Minimum Tax is permanently patched which will prevent millions of middle class Americans from paying higher taxes.
Let’s be clear. Failing to act on this legislation would have resulted in a tax increase of more than $4 trillion over ten years for American families. There was widespread agreement from credible economic sources that the effects of “going over the Fiscal Cliff” would have pushed our struggling economy back into a recession and that unemployment would have reached 9%. Those outcomes would have caused real harm to the vast majority of American families and were not acceptable to me.
This agreement is far from perfect. It does not properly address the Sequester. We must better balance the spending cuts contained in the Sequester so that important programs including defense, education, transportation, and medical and scientific research are protected.
I recognize that this legislation does not deal with the fact that America has long term financial obligations that will become impossible to meet if we continue to spend at current rates. We must get serious about spending cuts. It is the only way to put our nation on a sustainable fiscal path. Also, I still believe that we must make our tax code fairer, flatter and simpler. I will continue to work at addressing these issues.
We came unacceptably close to fully going over the Cliff. I think it is better for the country that we have taken at least one step back from the edge.
Additional items dealt with in the legislation:
Medicare Reimbursement Rates for Physicians (The “Doc Fix”)
*Blocks for one year the scheduled 27% cut to reimbursement rates for doctors.
*Extends for one year the current unemployment insurance benefits
Stops Milk Prices from Going Up
*Protect consumers against the sudden huge price increases in agricultural commodities, like dairy products
Rescinds the Congressional Pay Raise
*Rejects the .5 percent Congressional pay increase that resulted from a recent Executive Order by President Obama