WASHINGTON - Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., voted Tuesday night to back the fiscal cliff deal, saying it was crucial to avoid large-scale tax increases on middle-class Americans.
Walden issued the following statement on House passage of a plan to prevent a tax increase for 99 percent of taxpayers and stop the government from going over the fiscal cliff:
"Tonight the House passed a plan to permanently extend tax relief for Oregon families and small businesses and to stop our government from going over the fiscal cliff. The plan isn't perfect, but I would not sit by as taxes go up on all Americans, including more than $3,000 this year for the average Oregon family. I didn't come to Washington to see taxes go up on middle income Americans, and we acted to stop that permanently.
"The plan passed tonight locks into place current tax rates for middle class families as our economy continues to struggle. It permanently holds down the death tax for small business owners, farmers, and ranchers. It permanently patches the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and extends the higher child tax credit. The plan does away with a new entitlement program created in Obamacare, and stops the President from giving members of Congress a pay increase as the President proposed. Finally, it extends the existing farm bill for one year as Congress works on a new long-term farm bill."
"Now that tax relief has been extended, it's time for the President to work with Congress to get our nation's fiscal house in order by addressing the underlying problem, which is spending. The national debt is currently $16 trillion and climbing, over $50,000 for every American. We must cut spending and grow our economy to avoid passing on an even bigger debt burden to our children and grandchildren."
Summary of the American Taxpayer Relief Act
- Marginal rates: Permanent extension of current policy up to $400,000 for singles, $450,000 for married couples.
- Capital Gains & Dividends: Makes permanent 15% top capital gains and dividends rate up to $400,000 for singles, $450,000 for married couples; 20% rate for both above that threshold.
- Death Tax: Permanent extension of current policy with a $5 million exemption indexed for inflation and a 40% top rate.
- Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): Permanently indexes the AMT for inflation.
- Debt limit: No increase in the debt limit.
- "Sequester" arbitrary spending cuts: sequester is turned off for two months and paid for by a combination of other spending cuts and revenue increases.
- CLASS Act: Repeals a flawed new entitlement program created in Obamacare which even the Obama Administration admitted was "totally unsustainable" after the bill was rushed to passage.
- Doc Fix: One year extension of current policy that stops a drastic cut to Medicare payments for health care providers.
- Unemployment insurance: 1 year extension of current extended weeks of UI.
- Farm Bill: Provides for a one year extension of the 2008 farm bill at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
About 24 hours earlier, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., issued the following statement after the Senate passed a deal that would avert the fiscal cliff:
"My measuring stick for this fiscal cliff deal, like every bill I consider, is how it will impact working families throughout Oregon. And while I have deep misgivings about the next steps, I have concluded that this deal is worth supporting.
"Without this bill, every family in Oregon would have seen its tax bills go up and our economy would have gone back into a recession. Without this bill, 30,000 unemployed Oregonians would have been cut off at the knees, without money to pay for food or rent as they look for work. And importantly, this bill protects the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits our seniors depend on.
"Although it does not do as much as I want, this bill does ensure that the wealthy will be contributing more as we work to bring our deficits under control. I far prefer that choice to further cuts to education, law enforcement, and investments in the infrastructure our economy depends on.
"But let's be clear: this deal carries great risks as well. This deal sets up more cliffs in the near future, including the expiring debt ceiling and the sequestration, pre-planned cuts to programs essential to working families. And as before, there will be some who use these cliffs to launch renewed attacks on Medicare and Social Security. We cannot let those attacks succeed.
"The way that we address these upcoming battles will determine whether we succeed in building a foundation for a vibrant economy and fiscal responsibility, or lock ourselves into structural deficits and stagnation."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement after the Senate voted on a plan to stop tax increases for most Americans:
"While the Senate found a way to steer America away from steep income tax increases on the middle class, maintain current reimbursements for doctors serving vulnerable seniors, and provide a break for working class families with children and college students, the manner in which this was produced felt more like Thelma and Louise than rational policy making. I will do everything possible to end the political brinksmanship and work for bipartisan tax, budget and Medicare reforms that create good paying American jobs and protect the Medicare guarantee while holding down health care costs."