Members of Iowa’s congressional delegation split on party lines in last night’s vote to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and budget cuts. All three Iowa House Democrats voted for the measure while both Republicans opposed it.
Earlier in the day, at about 2 o’clock in the morning, Iowa’s two U.S. senators voted against the legislation. Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley said “no” to the measure. Senator Grassley says President Obama has made his position obvious.
“Already in addition to what was passed yesterday, the president has made it clear he wants to raise taxes even more,” Grassley said this morning during a telephone conference call with Iowa reporters. “You can’t raise taxes high enough to satisfy the appetite of Washington to spend money.”
According to Grassley, strong presidential leadership is what the nation needs, to bring about what Grassley calls fiscal restraint.
“Everybody knows the problem is spending,” Grassley said. “Because, raise all the taxes the president wants and it only takes care of about 10% of our annual deficit of over a trillion dollars. We’ve got a spending problem, not a taxing problem.”
It’s a “fiscal farce,” according to Grassley, to raise taxes and hurt economic growth only to fuel more government spending with record deficits and debt. The New Hartford native said President Obama focused on raising taxes and failed to put Washington on a new path toward “fiscal discipline.”
“If he wants to make history and have a legacy, then it would be nice to have presidential leadership in helping us solve this spending problem, the deficit problem and in particular, with the 44% of the spending that is Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, bring that to the table,” Grassley said.
Senator Harkin says the deal fails to address the nation’s number one problem: creating good, middle class jobs.
“It’s just absolutely the wrong direction for our country,” Harkin said during a speech on the Senate floor.”
Harkin particularly objects to another temporary extension of unemployment benefits, while making the tax rates permanent.
“We’re going to lock in forever the idea that $450,000 a year is middle class in America. What have we forgotten? Have we forgotten that average income earners in America are making $25,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year?” Harkin said. “That’s the real middle class in America and they’re the ones that are getting hammered right now.”
According to Harkin, the “real” middle class isn’t helped by this deal.
“Quite frankly, as I’ve said before, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal,'” Harkin said. “And this looks like a very bad deal.”
In the House, Democrats Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell all voted “yes” on the measure, while Republicans Tom Latham and Steve King voted “no.” Democrat Braley, in a written statement, said: “The legislation would cut taxes for over 99 percent of Iowans, help keep food and milk prices low by renewing the Farm Bill for nine months, encourage Iowa investment by extending the wind energy production tax credit, help more children find loving homes by permanently extending the adoption tax credit, keep doctors practicing in Iowa by preventing a cut in Medicare reimbursements, and reduce the cost of college tuition for Iowa families. For the first time in 20 years, Congress will have acted on a bipartisan basis for significant new revenue, resulting in the most progressive tax code in decades.”
Republican Latham said in a written statement: “The White House-Senate compromise contains some good provisions I agree with, such as preventing massive tax hikes on most families and finally making the cuts permanent, extending the farm bill, and maintaining the wind energy tax credit. However, it lacks a critical component: necessary spending cuts to address our exploding debt. Our $3.5 trillion budget is and will continue to be our primary fiscal obstacle.”
(Additional reporting from Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)