Area representatives' reactions to 'fiscal cliff' deal are mixed


Supporters heralded a deadline deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” as a key step to protect the economy and prevent middle-class tax hikes.

But Wednesday, the day after prolonged political maneuvering culminated in a compromise to stop income-tax increases for most Americans, boost taxes for the richest, and extend unemployment benefits, area lawmakers acknowledged that work remains.

The action from Congress stalls for two months billions in spending cuts to domestic programs and the defense budget.

“I think the most important thing is some certainty, even though two months from now we have to deal with some of the spending cuts that are required,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said in a telephone interview.

Miss Kaptur said Tuesday’s deal reached “first base” but didn’t hit a home run.

“I think this will help the economy to grow, and now we’re going to have to take follow-up steps,” she said.

U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg of Tipton, Mich., and Jim Jordan of Urbana, Ohio, were among the 151 House Republicans who opposed the measure. Republican Bob Latta of Bowling Green broke ranks and voted yes.

Mr. Latta said he supported the bill because it cements tax cuts that Republicans enacted in 2001 and 2003.

“If nothing was done, the taxes for everybody would go up immediately,” he said.

The legislation also prevents 26 million people from paying the alternative minimum tax, extends the farm bill, and helps farmers and small businesses by maintaining the estate-tax exemption level, he said.

Mr. Latta called his voting record very fiscally conservative.

“Everybody comes to their own conclusion. ... I believe that we don’t want to have these taxes increase,” he said. “We are going to have a big spending fight coming up here in the next two months, and I am going to make sure that any dollar spent here in Washington is going to be spent wisely.”

Mr. Jordan and Mr. Walberg derided the deal for not cutting spending. Mr. Walberg said his chief motivation for voting no was that the measure lacked the spending cuts he advocated and said lawmakers are again delaying those decisions.

“The issue up here [in Michigan] is spending. It’s really not taxation. We don’t need more taxes; we need more control on our taxes,” he said.

Republicans who supported the plan “had some good reasons” to make permanent tax cuts, but Mr. Walberg contends there was a way to do that while also cutting spending by pressuring President Obama to negotiate.

He called his decision a “tough-love vote.”

In a statement, Mr. Jordan said taxes “for many families and small businesses” will be allowed to rise, and called tax relief in the bill its “one bright spot.”

“On spending, which is the real problem, this classic Washington deal is worse than doing nothing,” Mr. Jordan stated in a written release.

Other area legislators issued statements showing mixed thoughts on the deal.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) called it essential for Congress to avoid “damaging effects of going over the fiscal cliff” but stated he preferred a deal that “better addressed” the nation’s revenue shortfalls.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) supported the agreement because it halted “huge tax increases from being imposed” on most of the state’s families and employers and said attention must now turn to “pro-growth tax reform and reform of the important but unsustainable entitlement programs.”

Information from The Blade’s news services was included in this report.

Contact Vanessa McCray at:, or 419-724-6065.