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