Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus took to the Senate floor today urging Congress to put politics aside and work together to complete action on the Farm Bill and the so-called 'fiscal cliff' before the end of the year.
Baucus said partisanship has distracted Congress from its number one job: service to the American people. He listed a number of ways Montana families will be hurt by the fiscal cliff in an effort to focus the debate back to working families.
"It's time to put politics aside and remember what is at stake for working families, farmers, and small business owners across our country," Baucus said. "These are not just numbers on a page. These are people, and we work for them. Montana families sit down together at their kitchen tables every month and make tough choices to make ends meet. They deserve a Congress that can do the same."
Baucus also challenged the House to bring the Senate Farm Bill up for a vote.
"Make no mistake, the Farm Bill is a jobs bill. Agriculture supports 16 million jobs nationwide. In Montana, one in five jobs is tied to agriculture. And the Senate Farm Bill supports those jobs, while also cutting spending by $23 billion - it is part of a responsible solution," Baucus said. "There is absolutely no excuse for inaction. I call on the House to bring the Senate Farm Bill up for a vote immediately. Our farmers and ranchers break their backs to put food on our tables every day. The least they deserve is an honest, fair up or down vote on their jobs bill."
The Senate passed a Farm Bill in June. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on a bill.
Fiscal Cliff and Montana
Baucus reminded his colleagues today that if Congress fails to act by the end of the year:
Nearly every American will be hit with a tax hike - including 400,000 Montana families. That's approximately $2,000 out of the pockets of America's working families;
More than 2 million Americans and 3,600 Montanans will lose the federal unemployment insurance that helps keep a roof over their heads while they look for work;
98,000 Montana parents will see a tax hike of $1,000 if they lose the Child Tax Credit. And thousands more will be hit by the loss of the Earned Income and American Opportunity Tax Credits;
As many as 28 million Americans, and 52,000 working Montanans, will be forced to pay the alternative minimum tax, that was never meant to hit middle-class families;
Across the board mandatory spending cuts mean thousands of federal employees will lose the jobs that put food on the table for their families. And agencies in charge of keeping America safe like the FBI, Border Patrol, Department of Defense and others will be short staffed; and
Families may lose farms and ranches that have been passed down for generations because of the estate tax hike.
"These aren't wealthy aristocrats. They are honest, hardworking people, who get dirt under their nails every day to put food on our tables. And all they want in return is to pass the land they work onto their kids and grandkids," Baucus said of the estate tax on the floor today.