McKinley, Capito opposed cliff compromise

PARKERSBURG – West Virginia’s two Republican congressmen voted against the compromise bill to prevent tax increases for most Americans and going over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” while Democratic lawmakers said going over was not an option.

Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of the 1st and 2nd congressional districts, respectively, said the legislation from the Senate failed to address spending.

The Senate legislation that passed the House 257-167 on Tuesday prevented automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. Tax rates effective at the end of 2012 were preserved for wage earners making less than $400,000 and households making less than $450,000, continues unemployment benefits that would have expired, allows taxes to increase on capital gains and dividends and prevents automatic spending cuts for two months.

McKinley held a press conference with 1st District reporters on Wednesday when he said he voted against the compromise because it did nothing to reduce spending. It increased the national deficit by $330 billion over the next 10 years, he said.

House members had only nine minutes before the vote to review the 150-page bill, McKinley said. The Senate would not vote for a bill that was amended in the House to include spending cuts, he said.

”We wanted 72 hours to review it,” he said.

The bill passed calls for $620 billion in increased tax revenues with only $15 billion in spending reductions, McKinley said.

”That is not a balanced approach,” he said. ”We don’t have a tax problem; we have a spending problem.”

The bill equated to a ratio of $1 in spending cuts to $41 in increased tax revenue, even though President Barack Obama promised $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue during his campaign, McKinley said.

”We have to be serious about this deficit,” he said.

The bill had provisions in it which had $12 million in tax credits for wind energy, $248 million in credits for Hollywood movie producers, $222 million in credits for rum producers in Puerto Rico, $78 million in motor sports complexes and $62 million for American Samoa.

”It was basically another stimulus package,” McKinley said.

McKinley said he was willing to consider tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, but he said lawmakers have to be just as serious about reducing spending.

Last month, Capito and McKinley said they would have voted for the failed Plan B offered by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, which would have set the income threshold at $1 million. At the time, McKinley said the issue with the Republican opponents of the bill was it didn’t include enough spending cuts.

“The last-minute, haphazard process led to an unbalanced bill that includes no substantial reductions in spending and actually adds $3.9 trillion to our deficit,” Capito said in a statement about the Senate version.

Senators passed the compromise bill 89-8.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who voted for the compromise, held a press conference with reporters on Wednesday and said going over the fiscal cliff was not an option. The deal includes the $1.2 trillion in the so-called sequestered cuts, $600 billion each in defense and non-defense areas, he said.

“That’s very doable,” Manchin, who supports an expedited exit from Afghanistan, said about the defense cuts.

Eliminating fraud, greater efficiency and preventing program redundancies also can lead to billions in savings, Manchin said.

The agreement apparently takes the tax issues off the table, he said. The major debate in the next two months will be spending cuts, Manchin said.

“That’s the fight that’s going to happen,” he said.

The bill was the right thing to do, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a statement.

“I still think there is more we can and should ask of wealthy Americans to help keep our country strong for everyone,” he said. “I’m also very concerned about ongoing Republican efforts to drastically slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as part of a long-term deficit reduction strategy.”

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, of Marietta and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., voted in favor of the compromise bill.

“Washington has a spending problem that threatens the prosperity of our children and grandchildren,” Johnson said. “Now that an agreement has been reached to prevent going over the fiscal cliff and permanently cut taxes on 99 percent of the American people, the table has been cleared to tackle the out-of-control federal spending that has amassed a $16 trillion national debt head-on.”

A solution must be incremental, Rahall said.