U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski released the following statement tonight on the passage of the fiscal cliff legislation in the House:
"I am greatly disappointed, that after months of talk, House and Senate leaders and the President were not able to reach agreement on a sizable deficit reduction compromise. While it is good that we're addressing the need to extend tax relief for millions of Americans, omitted from this package is a serious effort to address spending, implement tax reform, shore up the long-term viability of entitlements, or responsibly deal with replacing the sequester. With our debt limit reaching its maximum soon, we have missed a true opportunity to get our growing debt under control.
"While H.R. 8 does not do what we need to tackle our debt, it protects middle-class Americans from an income tax increase that economists tell us would send our economy back into a recession. Hard-working Americans cannot afford more job losses and cuts in pay, and a recession would also add more to our debt. In spite of the deeply flawed bill and process, it was better to vote for H.R. 8 than to vote against it and push our economy and the middle class over the cliff.
"There are some good provisions included in this legislation. Medicare enrollees won't have access to their doctors put at risk by a 26.5 percent reduction in doctor reimbursement rates, which was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. Extended unemployment benefits will support millions of Americans who continue to struggle to find work. The Alternative Minimum Tax will now be permanently indexed to inflation so it will not threaten millions of middle class Americans with higher taxes. Important tax breaks that will promote economic growth, including the research and development tax credit and accelerated business depreciation are extended for a year. And the CLASS Act, a fiscally unsustainable long-term care program created in the health care law, is repealed; I have fought hard to repeal this before it could be implemented and add more to our debt.
"As our debt continues to skyrocket, Washington cannot afford to continue to fail to get our fiscal house in order. Leadership has been sorely missing on debt reduction and it showed again in this effort to address the fiscal cliff. I have supported previous deficit reductions deals, and in March I helped bring to the House floor a bipartisan budget based on the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission. As we approached the fiscal cliff, I joined with a bipartisan group of colleagues to push for a compromise based on these recommendations so that we could cut at least $3-$4 trillion from our debt over the next ten years. But Washington failed miserably. We missed the chance at a "grand bargain' deficit reduction package by moving solely on taxes, and setting up another fight on the debt limit and spending cuts in February.
"Thankfully we avoided this cliff, but Americans deserve better than this irresponsible, embarrassing behavior in Washington. We cannot afford to continue it."