U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) today voted in favor of a "fiscal cliff" compromise that will help countless working families and small businesses across Hawaii avoid the "Perfect Storm" of expiring tax cuts, a loss of unemployment insurance benefits, a sizable cut to Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians, and drastic cuts to federal programs, along with other destructive policies scheduled to take effect in 2013.
The House of Representatives passed the bill, H.R. 8, by a vote of 257-167 after receiving the measure from the U.S. Senate earlier today. The Senate passed it shortly after 2:00 a.m. Tuesday by a vote of 89-8.
"On Monday, I went to the floor of the House of Representatives and described the fiscal cliff as a perfect storm," Hanabusa said. "There has been a lot of talk about sequestration and the Bush tax cuts, but it included much, much more than that. This was a wide range of provisions that were expiring at the same time and it was their combined effects that would have been so devastating. That is why I have argued all along that we needed to fully understand the situation and provide the leadership to address all of the dangers together.
"I am pleased that the approach that Senate leadership and Vice President Biden took in developing a compromise was similar to the approach I advocated for on the floor of the House.
"A permanent extension of tax rates for families with incomes under $450,000 means that 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses will not see a tax increase. Preserving Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians translates to over 200,000 people in Hawaii who will continue to have access to health care. And in Hawaii, the nearly 6,500 individuals who now rely on Emergency Unemployment benefits will be able to support their families.
"With a permanent patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax, an estimated 30 million Americans will not be hit by a higher tax bill. And families who own small businesses will be able to preserve their assets through an Estate Tax exemption of $5 million on estates inherited from individuals and a $10 million exemption on family estates. Additionally, the compromise includes a one-year extension of the wind production tax credit for developers of wind projects.
"Also extremely important to me is that in this deal, Social Security benefits are not touched, and rumored adjustments involving the Consumer Price Index were ultimately not on the table."
"Those are direct effects on the middle and working class. I always maintained that we had to look at the complete package and focus on the broad range of people who would have had a harder time if we didn't act."
"We averted this storm, but that doesn't mean the job is over. We pushed back sequestration for a couple of months, but we need to fully address it. Plus, we still have to raise the debt ceiling. Let's not forget that it was Republicans' refusal to negotiate on the debt ceiling that created the sequester in the first place.
"We need to keep working, and keep our focus on what's important to the majority of Americans."