Moderated by Rick Badie
Democrats and Republicans must get the nation’s financial house in order to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Lead negotiators for the parties blame the other side for the current impasse. House Republicans, such as Georgia Rep. Tom Price, say they want to work in good faith to raise additional tax revenue without raising rates. DeKalb County Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson pledges to do what’s best for the middle class.
House Republicans stand by taxpayers
By Tom Price
The New Year is steadily approaching, and with it, the “fiscal cliff.” If Congress and President Barack Obama take no action, taxes will rise on all Americans. And the only thing standing between your family and a devastating tax increase is House Republicans.
House Republicans have worked in good faith, agreeing in principle to a plan that reforms the tax code by lowering rates, broadening the base and closing special-interest loopholes. These pro-growth policies would generate more revenue for the federal government and establish conditions for job creation. If they are coupled with serious reductions in spending, we can stop the nation from going over a fiscal cliff that will destroy jobs and wreak havoc on our economy.
While promising to take a “balanced approach” to address the fiscal cliff, President Obama and his Democrat colleagues have yet to offer any meaningful solutions, including spending reductions. It is clear that this administration, which has presided over budgetary deficits exceeding $1 trillion all four years in office, remains remarkably unconcerned with our nation’s spending-driven crisis.
Instead, they have insisted on raising tax rates on small businesses, despite knowing this would only generate enough revenue to fund the government for eight days. It is not a real solution at a time when we face very serious challenges.
Their desperately desired tax increase would also destroy at least 700,000 American jobs. With a fragile economy and widespread unemployment, why would anyone — much less the president of the United States — so forcefully demand a policy that would exacerbate the economic despair of so many Americans? Such empirical evidence suggests President Obama and his Democrat colleagues are more interested in raising taxes than they are in spurring economic vitality.
The truth is, an approach to our nation’s fiscal crisis that chases ever-increasing federal spending with higher taxes is not only unbalanced, but also foolhardy. The problem in Washington isn’t that we don’t tax enough. It’s that we spend too much. It is unlikely we will be able to hold earnest discussions without acknowledging this fact.
House Republicans crafted a plan that cuts government spending, tackles the drivers of our debt, strengthens health care and retirement security, reforms our tax code, empowers America’s entrepreneurs and increases access to affordable energy, all while bringing our budget to balance and getting us on a path to pay off the national debt. We still await a comparable plan from the majority party in Washington, the Democrats.
In the meantime, Republicans will continue to stand with hard-working taxpayers, job creators and families by advancing pro-growth tax policies and real spending reductions to avert the more immediate fiscal cliff. We call on our Democrat colleagues to productively participate.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell.
Help middle class with compromise
By Hank Johnson
That some congressional Republicans consider revenue as part of a balanced approach to reducing the deficit is new and refreshing. If not a downright breakthrough, it is certainly a departure from the last negotiation that created the looming “cliff.”
Like President Barack Obama, I have supported revenues and spending cuts to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. I was encouraged to see Sen. Johnny Isakson write in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn’t consider Medicare and Social Security to be “entitlements” because Americans have paid into them their entire working lives.
I welcome these developments and look forward to working with my colleagues in this renewed spirit of bipartisanship.
As we get closer to the holiday season, Democrats and Republicans should renew the middle-class tax cuts. Doing so will give families a little more certainty at this critical time and prevent a hit to consumer spending, roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
If middle-class tax cuts are extended, every American will get a tax break on his or her first $250,000 of income. And income taxes won’t go up at all for 98 percent of families and 97 percent of small businesses. Without the extension, middle-class families will see their income taxes go up by an average of $2,200 starting Jan. 3.
The Senate sent a bill to the House to extend middle-class tax cuts. House Republicans should allow an immediate vote on the Senate bill, so that can be removed from the equation.
We would then have the breathing room to go forward, laying the foundation for long-term job growth and deficit reduction.
I support the president’s balanced plan that reduces the deficit by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and preserving the investments we need to grow the economy. The president and Congress have already passed $1 trillion in spending cuts.
The president and Democrats have put forward a specific plan to reduce the deficit, but Congress is not wedded to every detail. While we are open to compromise, our guiding principle throughout the talks should be balance and what’s best for the middle class.
I agree with Sen. Isakson that Social Security and Medicare did not cause this problem, and the “fiscal cliff” should not be an excuse to gut these programs. Our problems are challenging, but they are solvable. For months, the president has made clear he will fight every day for the middle class to move this country forward and grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down.
Together, we can solve our financial challenges in a way that creates jobs and restores security by investing in small business, manufacturing, education and clean energy.
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia.