In a rare split, Wyoming's U.S. delegation for the House and Senate parted voting company on the last-minute compromise legislation that kept the country from tipping over the fiscal cliff.
While senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi both voted for the compromise, Representative Cynthia Lummis voted against it. Enzi was the first to release a statement on the bill at about 1:30 p.m. today.
He called the deal imperfect but praised the permanence it offers to the Bush tax cuts. He offered no further explanation on his "aye" vote.
The compromise, backed by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, accomplished many things — significant spending cuts were not one of them. The bill is expected to add $4 trillion to the national budget deficit over ten years, despite income tax jumping to 39.6 percent from 35 percent for individuals making more than $400,000 annually.
"Higher taxes aren’t the magic wand that will make our $1 trillion
deficits and $16 trillion national debt disappear," Enzi said in his statement. "Especially when it's only going to pay for more spending. The only way
we will be able to tackle this problem that threatens every aspect of
our country and our lives, is to get serious about cutting spending."
A temporary cut to the Social Security payroll tax was also allowed to expire, meaning tax hikes of between $579 and $822 per year for anyone making between $40,000 and $75,000 annually.
The Senate reportedly voted on the 154-page bill within minutes of receiving it Tuesday morning after 1 a.m., while the House had slightly more time to digest its contents before its Tuesday evening sequestration-deadline-driven vote.
The bill pushed sequestration deadlines back two months, averting immediate and automatic spending cuts feared by many economists and imposed by legislation drafted as a way to push spending downward with a threatening circumstance.
Economist Anne Alexander referred to it as a "gun they loaded and put at their own heads" at Wyoming Business Report's Central Wyoming Economic Forecast Lunch in Casper Dec. 4 (see our January issue for full coverage of Alexander's presentation).
The bill, among other things, also made Bush tax cuts permanent for many, extended unemployment benefits and allowed capital gains and dividends taxes to go up.
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