Idaho’s two congressmen split their vote on the American Tax Relief Act that averted the so-called fiscal cliff.
Republican Rep. Mike Simpson voted for the compromise bill that made the Bush tax cuts permanent for families making less than $450,000 annually. Republican Rep. Raul Labrador voted against the bill that already had passed the Senate with the support of Idaho’s two Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.
“While I remain a strong proponent of a more comprehensive approach to solving our nation’s long-term fiscal crisis, this bill is a critical piece of legislation that lowers taxes for nearly every taxpayer,” said Simpson. “The unfortunate reality is that under current law every taxpayer was hit today with a tax increase. The bill we passed blocks those tax increases for nearly all Americans.”
Labrador said he wasn’t sure either party is serious about addressing the federal budget deficit.
“This was a difficult vote, but as far as I am concerned the Biden-McConnell deal is worse than no deal at all,” Labrador said. “It temporarily ends the debate but does nothing to solve the problems that our country faces.”
Among its provisions the bill protects individuals making less than $400,000 and families making less than $450,000 from the tax increases contained in current law, passed a permanent patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax which was set to impact up to 30 million Americans, provides a $10 million per couple exemption from the estate tax, keeps Medicare payment to providers at the current rate and extends unemployment benefits through 2013.
“The passage of this bill does not diminish the fact that Congress and the White House must remain committed to a much larger and more comprehensive package of deficit reduction measures in the very near future,” said Simpson. “That package must include significant reductions in discretionary spending and major reforms to both entitlement programs and our outdated tax code.
Simpson has been part of a bipartisan coalition seeking a 10-year $4 trillion deficit reduction and tax reform package.
“These reforms should be aimed not only at reducing our deficit in significant ways, but at creating a pro-growth tax code and putting entitlement programs on a much stronger path toward solvency for both current and future retirees,” Simpson said.
Labrador said this compromise that did not include budget cuts undercuts efforts to get to real deficit and debt relief. But he still hoped the two sides could work together.
“Families across the country have had to learn how to do more with less but Washington has not been willing to do the same,” Labrador said. “Both parties and the president need to put partisan politics and tactics aside and actually make meaningful decisions that will fix our fiscal mess.”