U.S. Congress

Thompson, Garamendi back ‘cliff’ deal

By From page A2 | January 02, 2013

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, were among 40 House members from California who voted Tuesday to back a deal aimed at steering away from the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

In a brief statement, Thompson, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, called it “far from perfect.”

“Doing nothing would have sent our economy into a tailspin and triggered another recession,” he said. “Now that we have done what was needed to avoid the fiscal cliff, it’s time to focus on what should have been our priority all along: getting Americans back to work and getting our fiscal house in order.”

In a phone interview, Garamendi, who will represent Davis in the next Congress, called the bill “really good for California.” His reasons included that the bill will:

* Make permanent Bush-era tax levels below $450,00 for couples and below $400,000 for individuals;

* Extend unemployment insurance for another year, affecting those who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks — 400,000 of whom are Californians;

* Extend for five years the Earned Income, Child and American Opportunity (tuition) tax credits;

* Not increase taxes for most businesses and extends a number of business tax breaks, among them the research and development credit and a provision allowing businesses to write off half the value of new investments;

* Boost plug-in hybrid vehicles, wind energy and other green energy initiatives.

Tacked onto the bill is also a nine-month extension of the farm bill — which he noted is not only important to farming in his district but UC Davis research — that buys time for a longer-term bill to be hammered out in 2013.

Garamendi said he was disappointed by the “unwillingness of the Republicans to dig in and put together a big solution to the tax and deficit issue.”

“We know that there are going to be challenges coming up in a very short period of time,” he said. “We know that the Republicans are going to use the debt ceiling as a leverage point. The sequestration has been delayed for two months. And we also have to fund the government.

“So the end of February is going to be a very busy season in Washington, D.C., as those issues are dealt with.”

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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