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Flawed Senate Effort to Postpone Fiscal Cliff Approved in House

January 1, 2013 - 6:00pm

Five Florida Republicans were among the 85 House GOP members who sided with Democrats on Tuesday to approve Senate Bill 8, which averts, for now, $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts commonly called the fiscal cliff.

Voting in support, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, wrote that the bill has its flaws but that he supported the permanent cuts offered.

As Americans throughout the country were ringing in the new year, their taxes went up, including those on the middle class, married couples, families with kids and Floridians who benefit from the sales tax deduction, Diaz-Balart stated in a release.

The American people cannot afford, nor do they deserve, this massive New Years tax hangover. While this bill has its flaws, it immediately and permanently cuts taxes on 98 percent of the American people and 97 percent of small businesses.

In explaining his "yes" vote, Rep. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, told this to Washington reporters: We have dealt with this issue long enough. Both sides have given; both sides have gotten.

With the House passing the bill 257-167, with all of Florida's Democrats in support, the bill fails to prevent an increase in taxes to those with high incomes, while including provisions that block for two months a hike in milk prices and spending cuts, extends unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and stops a 27 percent cut to fees for doctors treating Medicare patients.

Florida Republicans joining Diaz-Balart and Young were Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami; Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville; and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

Crenshaw wrote that while the bill is not a perfect solution, he also backed the middle-class cuts.

Like many of my colleagues, I had hoped to vote on a more balanced bill that cut big-government spending, Crenshaw stated in a release. While not a perfect solution, this legislation makes middle-class tax cuts permanent and protects 98 percent of Americans and small businesses from the biggest tax hike in history. Marriage penalty relief, protection for estates, expanded child-tax credits, a permanent adjustment [to the] Alternative Minimum Tax, and insurance that doctors wont have to incur a 27 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements are among the achievements.

"Additionally, this bill takes important steps to protect our military by delaying severe cuts that would result from sequestration. My bottom line and defense philosophy: Congress must have an unwavering commitment to national security. I wont allow short-sighted budget decisions to turn back a decades worth of work rebuilding our nations military in Florida and around the globe.

Statements from Young, Ros-Lehtinen and Buchanan were not immediately available.

Opposing the bill, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, sided with those who argued the Senate had offered a bill that failed to offer adequate spending cuts.

Unfortunately, the Senate also included a last-minute provision to increase deficit spending by an additional $330 billion over 10 years, according to a budget impact analysis completed by the Congressional Budget Office, Posey stated in a release.

By attaching this additional deficit spending to must-pass legislation at the last minute, the Senate and administration plan to simply pass on the costs of this new spending to our children and grandchildren. This spending should have been offset by cutting spending elsewhere in the $3.6 trillion annual budget," Posey said.

Washington has an incurable addiction to borrowing and spending. Slipping another $330 billion in deficit spending into a last-minute take-it-or-leave-it proposition is unacceptable and it sells future generations of Americans short.

Joining Posey and the majority of Floridas GOP House Republicans, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, expressed hope that the 113th Congress will properly address the tax code.

Our country is going bankrupt. We are $16 trillion in debt, all of which is saddled to our children and grandchildren, Ross stated in a release.

This proposal does nothing to address our biggest problem, which is the out-of-control spending that runs rampant in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando, in voting against the bill, noted on Twitter that "it does not begin to address the true fiscal problems we face."

Voting Aye from Florida:

Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville.

Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.

Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville.

Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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