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Reps unhappy with passage of ‘cliff’ measure

By The Mercury

Members of the Kansas Congressional delegation expressed displeasure with the way the government conducts business after passage late Tuesday of a measure designed to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Congress had to pass a budget deal to stop the automatic tax increases across the board and billions of dollars of cuts in government spending that would have gone into effect at midnight Tuesday.

The White House Office of Management and Budget estimated that growth in the deficit would be reduced by $737 billion over 10 years due to the bill.

The biggest factor would be an estimated $618 billion in new tax revenue generated from the highest-income Americans and wealthiest estates. Another $104 billion of the deficit reduction would result from lower interest payments on the federal debt.

Kansas delegation members, all Republicans, indicated the financial fight is far from over and agreed that government needs to reduce its spending, an aspect not addressed in the bill.

The lawmakers came to different conclusions on whether to vote for it. The four members of the House delegation all voted against it, but Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts voted for it.

Moran said his goal has been to see tax increases affect as few Americans as possible, stating the bill’s passage protects 99 percent of Americans.

“Tax increases are damaging to the economy and make it more difficult for everyday Kansans to make ends meet,” he said. “Unfortunately unless legislation was passed to prevent it, every taxpayer would have seen a significant increase in their tax bill beginning Jan. 1.”

Moran said Congress still must deal with issues of sequestration and the debt ceiling. He said he will vote against a debt ceiling increase as he did two years ago unless the way that the government does business changes and spending is reduced significantly.

“There is no flexibility here – our country’s future is as stake and our children’s ability to pursue the American dream at risk,” he said.

Roberts said any further delay and inaction on taxes would have harmed the economy.

He said the nation’s farmers received protection from the “dairy cliff” with the bill’s extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through September.

“I voted to keep every cent possible in the paychecks of Kansans so they can get on with planning their futures while we go back to work to cut spending,” he said.

Roberts said the debt ceiling debate will provide the opportunity to make significant spending reductions. “Make no mistake: I will vigorously fight to stop President Obama and Washington liberals from raising taxes and increasing deficit spending as America faces serious debt and fiscal crisis in the new year,” he said.

Although he opposed the legislation, Rep. Tim Huelskamp said he supported many elements of the bill including providing farm policy certainty for this year and a permanent alternative minimum tax fix. But Huelskamp said the bill ignores the “ultimate objective” of substantial spending reductions.

“There has been no shortage of time to forge a solution to America’s fiscal crisis, but a lack of courage and will,” he said. “The so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ is a Washington-made problem — the result of years of last-minute deals designed to avoid real solutions. But, eventually Washington must face the fiscal abyss left in the wake of too much spending, too much borrowing, and too much government.”

Reps. Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder and Mike Pompeo joined Huelskamp in opposing the bill.

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