Hultgren cites spending issues on fiscal cliff ‘no’ vote
By Jenette Sturges firstname.lastname@example.org January 2, 2013 5:30PM
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden make a statement regarding the passage of the fiscal cliff bill in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Updated: February 4, 2013 2:43PM
The nation may have tip-toed away from the edge of the fiscal cliff — a series of tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts aimed at reducing the national debt — but lawmakers warn the country is hardly back to solvency.
In a deal brokered late Tuesday evening, the House passed a bill that raises income taxes on those earning more than $400,000 as well as capital gains taxes for high earners, while avoiding major tax increases for average and low-wage workers.
The deal also postpones deep cuts in defense and domestic spending for two months to give Congress time to work out a more permanent plan.
Fox Valley Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-14th District, was one of 167 members of the House who voted against the deal.
“I certainly didn’t want to go over the fiscal cliff,” Hultgren said Wednesday. “But the bigger threat to our nation is our out-of-control spending. It is absolutely going to affect our quality of life and the quality of life for our children and grandchildren.”
Hultgren said although he campaigned on a pledge to not raise any taxes, the automatic tax increases that would have resulted had a deal not been brokered amounted to the lesser of two evils.
“I’m very supportive of not raising taxes on anybody,” he said. “My frustration, however, is the amount of debt we have, the spending that continues.”
Hultgren said that postponing decisions on deep spending cuts would cost taxpayers another $600 million.
Hultgren joined Reps. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, Bobby Schilling of Moline and Joe Walsh of McHenry, all Republicans, as the only members of the Illinois congressional delegation to vote against the measure.
Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat who was sworn in as a new member of the House on Wednesday, called the New Year’s deal imperfect but “encouraging.”
“While I don’t think the package passed last night by the House was perfect, I do think it’s encouraging to finally see Congress come together to pass bipartisan legislation,” said Foster, who will represent the new 11th Congressional District, which includes Aurora, Naperville and Joliet.
“I hope that we can continue to follow this model of bipartisan compromise and look forward to working with my colleagues to put forward legislation that both Democrats and Republicans can support.”
Over the next two months, Congress will be faced not only with decisions on spending cuts, but with another vote on the debt ceiling — a vote that does not increase the country’s debts, but allows the Federal Reserve to borrow to pay for debts already incurred.
Historically Congress has raised the debt ceiling dozens of times previously with little quarrel.
But in 2011, partisan fighting nearly killed a rise in the debt ceiling, which, in turn, nearly resulted in the United States defaulting on its debts.
Another vote to raise the debt ceiling will need to be cast by March to keep the U.S. from defaulting.
“I don’t want to see us default, but we can’t keep doing this every year, maxing out the credit card and raising the credit limit,” said Hultgren.
Republican Rep. Judy Biggert — who lost to Foster in the election for the new 11th District — cast a “yes” vote, her last in office, to avoid the fiscal cliff.
She could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but reportedly spoke out in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, urging colleagues to not throw out the package.
The House voted 257-167 to approve the agreement. Voting yes were 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans. Voting no were 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans.