When negotiations began over averting the fiscal cliff, the ultimate goal was supposed to be two-part: addressing tax increases and reducing the deficit.
Unfortunately, the package negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell completely ignored half the equation.
The package does make some positive progress. Tax increases were prevented for the vast majority of Americans, including individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making $450,000. What was once temporary tax relief for these Americans was, in large part, made permanent.
I would have preferred to see no taxes increase in this depressed economy while so many Americans struggle to find work, but this was a good compromise and a positive step.
I could not support the package because it completely ignores deficit reduction. The fiscal cliff provided an excellent opportunity to “go big” and cut the budget to free our children and grandchildren from a life indebted to China. Unfortunately, the fiscal cliff “fix” actually increases deficit spending. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it would add $4 trillion to the national debt in 10 years.
With $600 billion in tax revenue, it contains $10 in tax increases for every $1 in spending reduction. That’s far from the president’s campaign-trail call for a “balanced approach.”
I also could not support this package because it delays the much-needed spending cuts – which were agreed on in August 2011 – by two months. Does anyone really believe that attitudes toward spending less will be any different in March than they are today?
The fiscal-cliff deadline was created in August 2011, and nothing happened in the Senate until last week. If Congress didn’t get religion in 16 months, I doubt we will get it in two.
The fiscal cliff package cleared by Congress last week was, in many ways, less of a fix than a punt. We can do better. I hope the new session of Congress that convened Thursday has the chance to prove that in the fiscal debates to come. I am going to work hard to make sure we do.
Rep. Jack Kingston serves the 1st Congressional District, which includes Bryan County.