LIMA — Ohio’s Republican congressmen were busy Wednesday explaining their votes on the New Year’s Day deal that ended the fiscal cliff stalemate.
The vote saw the state’s 14 GOP congressman splitting down the middle. Those who supported the bill included Speaker of the House John Boehner, Robert Latta, Bill Johnson, Steve LaTourette, Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi.
The seven Republicans voting against the deal were Jim Jordan, Steve Austria, Steve Chabot, Bob Gibbs, Jim Renacci, Jean Schmidt and Michael Turner. Jordan represents all of Allen County.
Latta supported the bill because it made permanent tax cuts that Republicans originally crafted and enacted in 2001 and 2003, and it prevented a massive tax increase on many American taxpayers. Latta represents Putnam, Van Wert, Hancock, Hardin and much of Mercer counties.
“Besides making permanent the tax rates for singles at $400,000 and for married couples at $450,000, this bill will prevent 26 million Americans from paying the Alternative Minimum Tax and helps our small businesses and farmers by keeping the death tax exemption level at $5 million,” Latta said. “In addition to extending permanent tax relief for small businesses and middle class families, I am pleased to see the bill included an extension of the farm bill, which will prevent current law from allowing milk prices to skyrocket, as well as repealing the pay increase for Members of Congress and White House staff.”
Jordan represents Allen, Auglaize, Shelby and Logan counties in the region. While he supports the permanent tax cuts, he said he could not support the bill.
“Unfortunately, it also allows taxes to increase for many families and small businesses,” Jordan said. “On spending, which is the real problem, this classic Washington deal is worse than doing nothing. We’ll never get the budget balanced by delaying the few spending cuts that were agreed to in the summer of 2011.”
Jordan’s vote drew praise and criticism from readers at LimaOhio.com.
“No surprise here. Jordan votes no on everything except spending money building tanks that the Army doesn’t want,” wrote Travis Howard, referring to Jordan’s support of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center and the Abrams tank program.
Dawn Renee Neumeier wrote that Jordan was right to not support the compromise.
“Props to Mr. Jordan! We’re already sinking into the abyss, why compromise now and speed up the process! Cowards is what I call every one of them who gave in,” she said. “If you can’t stand for something, then get out of the way so someone with some guts can do the job!”
Ohio’s two senators — Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, and Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati — voted for the bill as did each of the state’s Democratic congressmen.
The deal boosts the top 35 percent income tax rate to 39.6 percent for incomes exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples, while continuing decade-old income tax cuts for everyone else. In his re-election campaign last year President Barack Obama had vowed to boost rates on earnings at somewhat lower levels, $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families.
With passage, the legislation also means the immediate expiration of a two-year, 2-percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax.
The bill also raises taxes top earners pay on dividends, capital gains and inherited estates; permanently stops the alternative minimum tax from raising levies on millions of middle-income families; extends expiring jobless benefits; prevents cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors; and delays for two months billions in budget-wide cuts in defense and domestic programs slated for this year.
Overall, the legislation adds nearly $4 trillion to federal deficits over the next decade. Republicans who voted for the deal, including Boehner and Latta, said focus must now turn to spending.
“Our first step to avoiding the fiscal cliff has been taken, but in order to achieve a truly balanced approach and put our economy back on the path to prosperity, we must work towards comprehensive tax reform, reducing our deficit, and cut the out-of-control spending that is occurring in Washington,” Latta said.