By Rep. Tom Reed
Last week Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 to avoid the much-hyped "fiscal cliff." I ran and was elected on a pledge to taxpayers that I would not raise taxes, and this act secured permanent income tax cuts for 99 percent of our district, while the one percent tax levels remained at the level the law required. I believe Americans can make better spending decisions with their money than people in Washington can. Therefore, I voted to protect as many families and small businesses as possible from the huge tax burdens the impending tax increases represented.
Simply put, without Congress passing a bipartisan agreement, 100 percent of Americans would have seen an increase in their taxes as required by law. To our district this meant either allow taxes to go up on 100 percent of our constituents or 1 percent. The vote came after much thought, debate and compromise, and while I wish the deal had addressed the spending side of the ledger, I was pleased to support PERMANENT lower income taxes for our constituents. For details beyond the scope of this article, the permanency of these taxes opens the door to comprehensive tax reform in 2013. It also means the revenue side of the ledger has been addressed.
I still believe the long-term answer to our debt crisis lies in cutting spending and reforming Medicare and Social Security so they might be saved for generations to come. As it stands, Medicare is slated to last only until 2024 and Social Security is not far behind, with the fund running out in 2033. Simply, if reforms are not adopted now, the President and Senate Democrats are promising individuals age 54 and younger a bankrupt Medicare system when they reach the Medicare qualifying age of 65. And while I do not support any proposal which impacts those currently receiving Medicare or Social Security, or those who will become eligible in the next ten years, we have to reform these programs in order to save them and avoid the truly catastrophic situation where the programs collapse at a point in time when millions of Americans need them the most -- the day they qualify to receive the benefits.
Our annual trillion-dollar plus deficits and $16 trillion national debt threaten our long-term security. In 2011, we had to borrow $1.2 trillion to pay the bills. We are now seeing the initial impacts of the debt crisis with massive layoffs appearing in the private sector, as well as the public domain. Raising taxes as the President and Democrats demanded and continue to demand, leaves us with deficit projections of more than $1 trillion each year -- hardly a solution to our debt crisis. Only when we turn our attention toward cutting spending will we really begin to see annual deficits shrink and start to see businesses expand and hire.
Most importantly, when we secure these spending reforms, resolve the impending entitlement crisis, and complete comprehensive tax reform, we will bring certainty to the future of America. Through this certainty, we will unleash the key to overcoming all the threats upon us -- private-sector job growth.
Americans voted in a divided government in the 2012 November election and if that means one thing, it means that Americans want and expect Republicans and Democrats in the House and