Valdosta Daily Times

January 3, 2013

Avoiding the Cliff

How South Georgia’s congressmen, senators voted

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — While both of Georgia’s Republican senators approved the fiscal cliff deal this week, two South Georgia GOP congressmen voted against it and one Democratic House representative voted for it.

Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson voted for the deal along with Georgia Second District Rep. Sanford Bishop. First District Rep. Jack Kingston and Eighth District Rep. Austin Scott both voted no.

The deal passed the Senate 89-6 and the House 257 to 167, with the majority of opposition coming from Republicans.

Both Isakson and Chambliss issued statements that expressed mixed emotions about the bill.

“This 11th-hour negotiation is no way to run a country, but I voted for this agreement because it protects 99 percent of Americans from a tax increase, permanently protects tens of thousands of farmers and family businesses from having to pay the estate tax upon the death of a loved one, and permanently fixes the alternative minimum tax to protect some 10 million households a year from having to pay it,” Isakson stated.

Chambliss made it clear that the bill is “far from what this country needs,” and that the President failed to negotiate a deal that would reduce debt, but that it was his responsibility to support the legislation.

“The Senate voted on a deal to avoid the worst of the fiscal cliff by compromising on tax provisions and delaying implementation of the sequester,” Chambliss said. “I cannot in good conscience allow taxes to be raised on all Americans and send our economy into turmoil. While I am pleased that most Americans have been saved from an increase in taxes, I won’t be satisfied that the Senate has finished its work on the fiscal cliff until significant spending cuts on discretionary and entitlement spending have occurred.”

While the bill has allowed the federal government to avoid massive spending cuts, it does so only for the time being. The bill makes adjustments to the federal tax structure, most notably in household earnings, but merely postpones the infamous sequestration of whole groups of budget items including both defense and nondefense programs for two months.

The bill raises the tax rate for households earning $400,000 a year or more ($450,000 if married) from 35 to 39.6 percent, and increases capital gains and dividend tax rates from 15 to 20 percent.

However, the bill does not address the expiration of the 2 percent Bush-era payroll tax cut, which could affect the pay of every citizen. The payroll tax will increase from 4.2 to 6.2 percent, amounting to $27 less per bi-weekly paycheck for people earning $32,000 annually, for example. People who earn $50,000 per year could see $42 less each pay check if employers choose to take their losses out of wages.