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Wisconsin Lawmakers Not Thrilled with Bill That Averted Fiscal Cliff

None of the U.S. elected officials from Wisconsin particularly cared for the deal hammered out to avoid the "fiscal cliff" — and that includes those who voted for it.

The "fiscal cliff" was averted Tuesday when the U.S. House handily passed a bill approved a day earlier in the U.S. Senate that raised taxes on the wealthy and staved off a tax increase for the middle-class.

The bill passed 257-167 in the House, a comfortable 40 votes more than what was needed to become law.

Among the congressmen serving southeastern Wisconsin, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI 5th District) and Tom Petri (R-WI 6th District) voted "no" on the measure, while U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan (R- WI 1st District) and Gwen Moore (D- WI 4th District) cast "yes" votes. U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI 7th District), who now serves the Hudson area, voted no.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill 89-8 on Monday with Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Herb Kohl (D-WI) both voting for it.

And while the fiscal cliff has been averted for now, members of both parties aren’t overly happy with the whole bill.

Ryan initially rebuffed journalists asking for a comment, but the Journal Sentinel reported the following statement from him:

"Today, I joined my colleagues in the House to protect as many Americans as possible from a tax increase. We also provided certainty by making the lower tax rates permanent. The House has already passed legislation to prevent tax increases for every American family, and it is unfortunate that President Obama insisted on taking more from hardworking taxpayers. Despite my concerns with other provisions in the bill, I commend my colleagues for limiting the damage as much as possible."

However, Sensenbrenner said in a press release that he couldn't support the bill because it "doesn’t promote economic growth or job creation, it discourages it. Rather than address the drivers of our debt problem, it completely avoids any serious spending reform."

In a similar vein, Duffy issued a statement that said he couldn't support the bill "because it does not include a serious, sustainable plan for balancing the budget and reducing our debt."

In a statement posted on her website, Moore said while the bill wasn’t the “grand deal” she hoped for, she was pleased that the deal was reached that held the line on tax rates for “the middle class and the most vulnerable of our nation – the poor.”

Petri said he voted against the bill because it didn't accomplish what it should have.

"I am totally in favor of extending the tax cuts for the middle class, but other than that, this is not the deal I expected," he said in a statement. "I thought the deal was supposed to be that Republicans would compromise on raising taxes, and Democrats would compromise on cutting spending. But that didn't happen. Instead, we got higher taxes and bigger deficits. That's not what I consider progress."

Johnson also noted in a press release that the bill was less than desirable, but it achieved several key goals:

"Although I strongly prefer extension of current tax rates for all Americans, I supported the compromise bill that protects 99 percent of Wisconsinites from an income tax increase, limits the death tax, and prevents a dramatic increase in milk prices. It is by no means a perfect piece of legislation."

Kohl had not issued a statement as of 11 a.m.

So what does the bill mean to the American people?

According to CNN, here are details contained in the budget bill:

  • The tax rate for individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000 will rise from the current 35 percent to the Clinton-era rate of 39.6 percent.
  • Itemized deductions will be capped for individuals making $250,000 and for married couples making $300,000.
  • Taxes on inherited estates will go up to 40 percent from 35 percent.
  • Unemployment insurance will be extended for a year for 2 million people.
  • The alternative minimum tax, a perennial issue, will be permanently adjusted for inflation.
  • Child care, tuition and research and development tax credits will be renewed.
  • The "Doc Fix" — reimbursements for doctors who take Medicare patients -- will continue, but it won't be paid for out of the Obama administration's signature health care law.

And now that the "fiscal cliff" has been averted, Moore told WISN-TV that “serious negotiations” needed to happen between Democrats and Republicans with regards to the federal budget in January and February to “prevent a serious recession in 2013.”

Johnson also told WISN that the country needs to have “a competitive tax environment, a competitive regulatory environment, use domestic energy resources” and address issues with President Barack Obama’s health care laws.

Patriot January 04, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Ya well how about the very large percentage that dont pay a single time in federal income tax, rather they are living off the Government Dole. Yes some really are in need but a large portion of those free loaders are just that. FREE LOADERS!! Completely able to work but choose not as they would take a pay cut. So enough with your tax the wealthy, thanks wealthy for finally stepping up. CLASSS WAREFARE at its best. Our Country has never been so divided in our history that under this President
FreeThought Troy January 04, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Yes, Patriot. FREE LOADERS!! Like Veterans and the military. SSI Seniors who spent their working lives paying income tax. Students. The working poor. It’s class warfare alright.
CowDung January 04, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Troy: I believe that Patriot was pretty specific in who he was including with his 'freeloader' comment. Please don't misrepresent his statement by extrapolating it to include everyone that legitimately receives benefits from the government... "Completely able to work but choose not as they would take a pay cut. "
FreeThought Troy January 04, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Maybe so, but the number of individuals are so small it does not even come close to addressing anything – let alone the compromised tax policy. This rhetoric is Conservative media based nonsense
Randy1949 January 04, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Patriot's post was unclear when he spoke about the large percentage who don't pay a single dime in federal income tax and then went on to speak about people on the dole although they could work. He failed to acknowledge the group of working people who because of low income and the use of tax deductions, exemptions and credit end up owing no federal income tax yet are taking no government aid. They's just people trying to get by the best they can without having to rely on government aid. For Patriot's information, there were years where I owed no federal income tax and took no advantage of the EITC or child-care credit, but I did pay self-employment tax. I wasn't taking any other kind of government aid, and I don't enjoy being called a free-loader for not owing tax.

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