Ellmers, Jones vote against, Butterfield votes for tax hikes

Local members of the House of Representatives voted along ideological lines Tuesday night when faced with an “up-or-down” vote on legislation that passed the Senate early Tuesday morning in an attempt to avoid policy changes referred to as the “fiscal cliff.”

Republicans Renee Ellmers (2nd District, Dunn) and Walter Jones (3rd District, Farmville) both voted against the bill, while Democrat G.K. Butterfield (1st District, Wilson) voted for it. The bill passed the House by a 257-167 vote, with 85 Republicans voting for the plan.

Early Tuesday morning, the Senate pass the plan by an 89-8 vote, with both North Carolina Senators Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D) voting in the affirmative.

Both Ellmers and Jones expressed deep concerns about the plan, which will raise more than $620 billion in tax revenues over the next ten years, primarily through increases to top marginal tax rates.

Exemptions and deductions were capped for households making more than $250,000 per year, and the top marginal income tax and capital gains tax rates were increased to 39.6% for income and 20% for capital gains for households earning more than $450,000 per year.

While some supporters argued that these new rates are below what would have happened had the “fiscal cliff” been taken effect following expiration of tax rate reductions instituted during the administration of President George W. Bush, the financial impact of the new tax rates still results in an actual tax increase compared to 2012.

From Congresswoman Ellmers:

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers

“Last night, I voted against the Senate’s compromise bill. This was supposed to be a deficit reduction bill, not a deficit increase that adds trillions to our deficit while increasing taxes. I could not support a measure that adds trillions to our deficits while increasing taxes by $41 for every $1 in spending cuts. Additionally, this deal continues to give tax advantages to big businesses while small businesses – the real lifeblood of our economy – are left to shoulder the burden and pay the bills.”

“We must get serious about addressing the true driver of the fiscal mess that our nation is in. Our out-of-control spending does nothing to help American families and only exacerbates the problems facing our country. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the real sources of this crisis and continuing the fight against government waste in the 113th Congress.”

From Congressman Jones:

Congressman Walter Jones

“I’m tired of seeing Congress and the White House rob our children and grandchildren,” said Congressman Jones.  “America is nearly broke financially because its political leadership keeps passing bills like this that simply kick the can down the road.  $40 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts?  Adding $4 trillion to the debt?  Are you kidding?”

“The way this deal went down reinforces what America hates about the way Washington is being run,” continued Congressman Jones.  “Backroom deals done in the middle of the night at the zero hour are never good for the American people.  This will be no exception.  We’re already hearing that millions in special corporate welfare subsidies were included for Hollywood, algae producers, electric motorcycles and many others.”

Congressman Butterfield did not release a statement regarding his vote in support of the plan and its tax increases.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center reported that their analysis concludes 77% of American households will see a tax increase as a result of the plan, which was signed into law today by President Obama. The main impact on most families is the expiration of a temporary 2% reduction in payroll taxes, which was not extended.

The bill, which only included $1 in budget cuts for every $41 of increased taxes, also did not address increasing the Federal debt limit, which was maxed out at the end of 2012 according to the Treasury Department. The bill also did not include additional disaster assistance for those affected by Superstorm Sandy late last October, prompting significant anger by politicians from the worst hit areas of New York and New Jersey.


Senators Burr, Hagan Ring in 2013 with Votes for Tax Hikes

Peas in a pod? Early New Years Day, NC Senators Richard Burr (left, R) and Kay Hagan (D) voted for a last-minute deal that substantially-increases top marginal tax rates with very small cuts to spending.

North Carolina Senators Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D) got a little cozy, politically-speaking, in the first hours of the new year, both voted for legislation raising top marginal tax rates in an effort to avoid most of the economic consequences associated with the end-of-year “fiscal cliff” created by timing issues and prior budget and debt deals.

The final vote on the bill was 89-8, with 3 not voting. One of those who did not vote was South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint (R), the avowed leader of conservatives in the Senate since the 2010 elections. He did not vote because he has left the Senate to take over leadership of the Heritage Foundation.

Only five Republicans voted against the bill, which extended tax rates for 95% while implementing significant increases for higher earners, including:

  • Raising the top marginal rate to 39.6% for incomes greater than $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for households
  • Limiting tax deductions for incomes greater than $250,000, effectively raising their taxes
  • Raising capital gains taxes on investment incomes for those making more than $400,000 (from 15% to 20%)
  • Increases the inheritance (death) tax for estates over $5 million in value (from 35% to 40%)

The legislation does address other issues that reflected the multitude of policy crises also part of the “fiscal cliff”, including:

  • One year extension of unemployment benefits for long-term unemployed
  • Extension of 2009-adopted college tuition tax credits
  • Inclusion of Medicare “doctor fix” preventing significant reduction in reimbursements for provided care to Seniors
  • Permanent corrections to the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • One-year continuation of several business tax breaks, including those tied to controversial energy efficiency programs like solar and wind
  • Two-month delay in automatic spending cuts (sequestration)

The bill also voided a small pay increase President Obama approved last week for members of Congress as part of a wider-scale increase in Federal employee salaries.

The bill did not include two other items of note. The temporary 2% payroll tax reduction was not extended, which most Americans will notice immediately in their paycheck as a reduction in take home pay. Payroll taxes are intended to cover social security and Medicare costs.

Initial estimates by the Congressional Budget Office indicate the legislation that passed the Senate will increase tax revenue by $620 billion over ten years, while only reduce spending by $15 billion over the same period. Conservative critics quickly pointed out this represents $41 in increased taxes for ever $1 in spending cuts, a margin they find completely unacceptable.

The bill must still pass the House, which is far from certain. Fiscal conservatives in the House have succeeded so far these past two years in preventing any legislation that increases taxes.

The bill also did not address raising the Federal debt ceiling, which reached its cap before the end of 2012. The Treasury Department has taken measures necessary to prevent default on Federal debt for the next two months.


Ellmers joins House demand for Senate vote on Obamacare Repeal

Eastern North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R) joined more than 100 of her colleagues in the House of Representatives this week asking that the Senate hold a vote on legislation passed by the House Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Members of both parties voted in support of this repeal,” Congresswoman Ellmers said, “and it is incumbent on us, as elected Representatives and Senators, to make a decision on issues that affect all Americans and future generations.”

Ellmers, a Registered Nurse and experience healthcare manager from Dunn, has been an ardent critic of the Affordable Care Act, and spoke in favor of its repeal during House debate on Tuesday.

The repeal passed in the House with a 240-182 vote, gaining the support of 5 Democrat Congressman. The Democrat-
controlled Senate, according to its Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV), does not plan to allow for the bill to come to
their floor for a vote.

Apparently, Ellmers believes their unwillingness to vote on the bill is a sign of cowardice.

 “If Senator Reid is confident in his party’s majority in the Senate, and proud of the historic increase in taxes brought on by Obamacare, then there is no reason to deny each Senator their right to make their position known. This law was not presented to the American people as a tax, but now that it has been ruled one by the Supreme Court, the Senate has an obligation, as elected officials, to let the hardworking American taxpayers know where their Senator stands.”

“Great leaders rise in support of what they believe in because they are emboldened by the courage to defend their principles. The failure to do so only diminishes the worthiness of their cause.”

Click here for Congresswoman Ellmers’ formal statements on the repeal vote and request for Senate action.

Congressional Candidate George Holding – Monday, 6:30pm on Tri-County Spin

George Holding, Republican Candidate for the 13th Congressional District, will be on Tri-County Spin this Monday (3/12), 6:30pm on WHIG-TV

WHIG-TV’s “Tri-County Spin” will welcome former United States Attorney and current Republican Congressional candidate George Holding for a lively conversation this coming Monday, March 12th, at 6:30pm.

Holding, who served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina from 2006 to 2011, is running for Congress in the 13th District, currently held by Democrat Brad Miller, who announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election.

Recent redistricting in North Carolina shifted the 13th District to include Western Wake County, along with parts of Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson and Wayne counties. Parts of Nashville, Tarboro and Rocky Mount area also included.

Click here for a map of the revised 13th Congressional District 

Holding is a native and resident of Wake County.

Dr. Cameron Matthews, WHIG Political Analyst and North Carolina Wesleyan College Assistant Professor of Political Science, will be interviewing Mr. Holding on a variety of topics related to his campaign for Congress.

The live interview will take place at 6:30pm this coming Monday on WHIG-TV and online at www.whigtv.com.