The U.S. House of Representatives helped the country avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” Tuesday night by approving a last-minute deal in a 257-167 vote. That followed an 89-8 vote in the Senate the previous night. However, most of South Carolina’s delegation opposed the legislation, saying it increased taxes and the deficit without cutting spending.
The bill keeps intact most of the Bush-era tax cuts, but increases income taxes on single filers with incomes above $400,000 and on married couples with income above $450,000. Capital gains would also be taxed at 20 percent rather than 15 percent. The deal would also prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting an additional 30 million Americans. It would also delay the automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration” from taking effect for two months (estimated to be about $109 million for the Department of Defense in that time) and extends long-term jobless benefits.
However, it does not address expiring payroll tax cuts, which will increase by 2 percentage points after being cut late in 2010.
Most of South Carolina’s congresional delegation opposed the deal, with the exception of sole Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn and Sen. Lindsey Graham (Sen. Jim DeMint did not vote on his last day in office). But the rest of the state’s Republicans said they were upset that spending cuts were not included, and that the Congressional Budget Office projected the compromise would add nearly $4 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.
“The only way we compromise in this town is by borrowing more money,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program, “That’s how Washington has always worked in the last 30 years, at least. That’s how we buy compromise is by stealing money from our kids.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan agreed in a statement: “Instead of making our country more secure, this compromise places our country on even shakier fiscal ground by completely ignoring why we’re $16 trillion in debt.” Reps. Trey Gowdy, Tim Scott, and Joe Wilson also voted against the deal.
Clyburn’s office did not release a statement, but has said the congressman will speak to South Carolina Radio Network later Wednesday.
Graham, for his part, urged his colleagues to support the deal so they can force Democrats to address spending cuts during the looming fight over the debt ceiling. Graham told FOX News that he worries Republicans would have been blamed for automatic tax increases on those who make less than $400,000 if the House rejects the deal. Instead, he wants Republicans to block another increase in the debt ceiling unless they get Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security reforms.