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James L.
Democrat RI 2

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  • American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

    by Representative James R. Langevin

    Posted on 2013-01-01

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    LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. It goes without saying that this is no one's idea of a perfect bill. However, the American people are counting on Congress to act to prevent a tax increase on the middle class, just as our economy is starting to recover.

    President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Senate Democrats and Republicans have done what the voters sent us here to do: find a balanced approach to help get our fiscal house in order. House Democrats have been ready to do our part, and I am glad that our Republican colleagues have finally allowed this legislation to come to the Floor so that we can ensure our nation does not feel the harmful effects of the fiscal cliff. It should not have taken this long, and it should not have been this hard.

    While I have serious concerns about certain portions of the agreement, I am very pleased that--first and foremost--middle class families will be protected from a tax rate increase. Not only will we permanently extend middle-class tax cuts, but this deal will also extend the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit, and it permanently ensures that the Alternative Minimum Tax will not hit middle-class families.

    Very importantly, this package also includes a critical extension of unemployment benefits for those still struggling to find work, and I am grateful for the efforts of Senator Jack Reed and others to ensure this provision was part of the final deal.

    I have called many times in recent months for the expiration of Bush- era tax rates on income over $250,000, and I am disappointed that this agreement does not meet that goal. However, while the income threshold of $450,000 is higher than I would have liked, it is nonetheless a major step forward that the very wealthiest Americans will begin to pay their fair share under this bill. Democrats have already agreed to over a trillion dollars in spending cuts, and it is critical that some significant revenue is finally being put on the table.

    Of particular interest to Rhode Island's wind energy industry, this bill extends the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy, which will mean critical jobs for our state. It also provides our doctors with another year of relief from Medicare reimbursement cuts.

    One thing many of my colleagues and I made clear to House leaders was that we would not support a deal that cut Medicare or Social Security benefits for our seniors, and I am glad that they listened to us.

    Overall, this agreement sets the standard for a balanced approach that demands shared sacrifice through both spending cuts and revenue increases. I have long advocated for such an approach, and I am hopeful that this will be the model for our deficit reduction efforts in coming years.

    Unfortunately, this deal is no ``grand bargain,'' and it sets up yet another potential crisis mere weeks from now by pushing off a solution to sequestration for two months, right at the same time we will need to increase the debt limit and renew government funding. No one wants to relive this fight, and I would have much preferred to resolve these perennial issues all at once.

    Nonetheless, it is time to act. We have an obligation to move forward with a balanced compromise, and I believe that we have achieved that. I urge my colleagues to support this agreement, and I hope that we can begin the 113th Congress with a renewed commitment to address our nation's many complex challenges with seriousness and cooperation.

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