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Why RI’s Congressional Delegation Voted for Fiscal Cliff Deal

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Every member of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation agreed that the fiscal cliff deal on its way to President Obama’s desk wasn’t perfect, but not reaching an agreement would have been devastating for the majority of Ocean State residents.

Below are statements from Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Congressman James Langevin:

“This is no one’s idea of a perfect bill. However, the American people are counting on Congress to act in a fair way to avoid the harmful economic effects of the fiscal cliff. We protect the middle class from a tax rate increase and extend tax credits vital to working families, while recognizing we will need to raise revenue from those who can afford it to deal with our debt. Seniors, students and the middle class cannot bear all of the burden.

“It extends unemployment insurance and, of particular interest to Rhode Island’s wind energy industry, continues the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy, which will mean critical jobs for our state.

“While I am disappointed that the agreement does not allow tax breaks to expire on income above $250,000, as the American people supported in November, the $450,000 threshold is a step forward. Democrats have already agreed to over a trillion dollars in spending cuts, and we must set the standard for a balanced approach that demands shared sacrifice through both spending cuts and revenue increases.

“Unfortunately, this deal is no ‘grand bargain,’ and it sets up yet another potential crisis mere weeks from now by pushing off a solution to across the board cuts for two months, right at the same time we will need to increase the debt limit and renew government funding. But now is the time to protect the middle class and our economy. I can only hope that we will begin the 113th Congress with a renewed commitment to address our nation’s challenges with seriousness and cooperation.”

Congressman David Cicilline:

"I voted to support the bipartisan fiscal cliff compromise because, while it is far from perfect, this agreement guarantees that middle class families, seniors, the unemployed, and small business owners will not face the prospect of steep tax hikes or devastating spending cuts as we enter the new year.

"At the same time, the political and highly divisive process that unfolded over the past few weeks and the short-term nature of this solution do not reflect how we should address such profoundly important issues.

"With our country facing so many serious challenges at home and abroad, we need our leaders to place our nation's long-term prosperity ahead of their own short-term political gains. When Congress revisits these issues in a few months, it is critical that we reach a long-term, comprehensive agreement that keeps our economy on the right track and protects the hardworking men and women who sent us here."

Senator Jack Reed:

"This is not a responsible way to govern, but not compromising could hurt Rhode Islanders and plunge our economy back into a recession. While we were able to prevent a tax increase on the middle-class, help the unemployed, and protect Social Security and Medicare, this is not the kind of balanced approach we need to spur job creation and strengthen economic recovery.

"Instead, we have a permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. More worrisome, it appears the stage is set for another dangerous confrontation over the debt ceiling in just a few short few weeks.

"I believe the White House should have stood firm on reducing the deficit by nearly $1 trillion by letting the income tax rates for those making over a quarter of a million dollars revert back to Clinton-era levels. I am equally disappointed with Republican intransigence and the prospect of once again being on the brink of a manufactured economic catastrophe in order to secure tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and pay for them by slashing the social safety net that benefits middle-income Americans.

"Still, without a compromise the combination of tax increases on the middle-class and haphazard spending cuts could throw the economy back into a recession. So I voted to avert the fiscal cliff and continue working to try to pass more robust policies that will spur job creation and strengthen our economic recovery."

Sheldon Whitehouse:

“My top priorities throughout this debate have been to protect middle-class families in Rhode Island from a tax increase, protect the programs – like Social Security and Medicare – that those families rely on, and to protect unemployment benefits for those still struggling to find jobs. The agreement announced today is not perfect, but it does meet all three of those goals while also extending important tax credits for things like wind energy development, which is why I voted for it. However, I also share the frustration of Rhode Islanders who are fed up with Congressional gridlock, and I am concerned that some Republicans are already talking about forcing more of these showdowns in the months ahead. This is no way to govern, and I sincerely hope that we will move past the dysfunction that has defined this debate and so many others in recent years.”


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