News Story

Michigan Congressional Republicans Split On 'Fiscal Cliff' Vote

Five of eight Republicans and all Democrats backed deal

Five Michigan Republicans in Congress joined all of the state's Democrats and voted to approve a plan that avoided the so-called fiscal cliff.

Republicans voting “yes“ were U.S. Representatives Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; Dave Camp, R-Midland; Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township.; Mike Rogers, R-Howell; and Fred Upton, R-St Joseph.

The legislation, HR 8, called the "American Taxpayer Relief Act," is the latest stop-gap measure designed to tackle tax and budgetary issues in the absence of a real national budget. President Barack Obama has yet to get any support for his budget proposals. Over the past two years, the United States has failed to pass a budget because of unwillingness to tackle the nation's soaring deficit.

HR 8 negated across-the-board tax increases that would have taken place due to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Meanwhile, it raised rates on higher incomes. It also extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevented a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and continued a host of "green energy" subsidy programs.

However, the bill blocked spending cuts for two months, once again delaying the task of facing up to the tough decisions involving the deficit. In fact, the deal actually increased spending.

Michigan Republicans who voted "yes" gave varied reasons for doing so.

Rep. Benishek:

"Today, taxes are slated to increase on every hard-working American. To prevent this, I was proud to support the compromise bill from the Senate this evening that permanently reduces tax rates for the majority of Northern Michigan families," Rep. Benishek said on his Facebook page. "While this bill's permanent tax relief is a positive step toward protecting America's economy, it does not change the fact that we have a federal government we can't afford. The federal government is still spending trillions more than it takes in. I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reduce wasteful federal spending and solve America's debt crisis."

Rep. Camp:

"Over a decade ago, Republicans acted to provide working Americans with substantial tax relief," Camp said in a statement. "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 that we have prevented a Democrat tax increase, the Ways and Means Committee will lead the effort to reform our tax code to make it simpler and fairer for families and small businesses, while also making American businesses and workers more competitive in the global marketplace. With the revenue piece settled, Washington must now turn to solving the rest of the fiscal cliff — the out of control spending that has led to record debt and deficits under President Obama."

Rep. Miller:

"While this deal was not perfect, it was certainly better than the alternative which would have been a more than $500 billion tax increase on our economy in 2013 alone," Miller said in a posting on her website. "Doing nothing would have thrown our economy back into recession, eliminated countless jobs, and caused untold pain for American families."

Rep. Miller said the bill also gave permanent relief from the "death tax" and the Alternative Minimum Tax.

"While this bill accomplishes a great many things, I am very disappointed that it did nothing to address the real driver of our debt which is out-of-control spending," Rep. Miller said. "It is long past time for the administration and the Democrats to join House Republicans in our determination to tackle this looming crisis."

Rep. Rogers:

"Today I supported a bipartisan bill that permanently cuts taxes for Michigan families and provides desperately needed economic certainty in the private sector," Rep. Rogers said in a press release. "Although I did not agree with every aspect of this compromise, I believe it will prevent a devastating recession that would destroy thousands of jobs here in mid-Michigan. This bill prevents harmful income tax increases on 7,595,000 Michigan families already struggling to make ends meet. However, given our record $16 trillion debt, it is clear to me that much more must be done this year to cut spending and restore fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C."

Rep. Upton:

"Last night, the House passed a plan to permanently extend tax relief for Southwest Michigan families and small businesses and to stop our government from going over the 'fiscal cliff'," Rep. Upton said in a news release. "This plan is not the one I would have written, but I would not sit idly by and watch taxes go up on every American, impacting the average Southwest Michigan family to the tune of thousands of dollars.

"This deal is an important first step to protect middle class families and small businesses from higher taxes. But our work will not be complete until we tackle the driver of our debt — spending. Folks are looking for bipartisan solutions and concrete action to right the ship on spending. Every single day, families in Michigan and across America must make tough decisions to balance their checkbooks, pay the bills, and make ends meet, and they expect the same out of their government."

Michigan Republican House Representatives Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township; and Tim Walberg, R-Tipton voted against the bill.

The U.S. debt is the largest in the world for a single country. It is greater than 100 percent of the total production, or Gross Domestic Product, of the nation. By comparison, in 1988 the U.S. debt was 51 percent of U.S. GDP.

Tuesday was an artificially-created deadline for dealing with the budget and the deficit crisis. This deadline was set by President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to postpone the issues until after the 2012 election.


See also:

How Will Michigan House Members Confront 'Fiscal Cliff'

Fiscal Cliff Could Hit Michigan Hard

Are You Prepared for 'Taxmageddon'?