'Our Work Is Not Done': Rep. Keith Ellison on Passing the Fiscal Cliff Bill
Fridley's representative and others in Congress from Minnesota reflect on the showdown's climax.
So-called fiscal cliff legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives, with divided, bipartisan support from Minnesota's delegation.
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Fridley's congressman, Keith Ellison, voted in favor of the package, as did the state's other DFLers—except Collin Peterson. Republican John Kline voted in favor but most in the House GOP did not. MinnPost rounded up some of what they said about their votes, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.
What neither side is boasting about might be what you notice first: the end of the payroll tax holiday.
Here is Ellison's full statement:
“Today, I voted for an imperfect bill in order to prevent millions of working and middle class families from paying more in taxes while they scrape by with less, to aid those who continue to struggle to find work, and to assist millions of families who need help raising children and paying for college. The primary problem with this bill is it tees up an even more difficult fight in two months over letting the country pay its debts and replacing indiscriminate cuts to programs Americans rely on. In the upcoming negotiations, we must continue to stand strong and oppose benefit cuts for families who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.
“While this agreement has many flaws, it meets the basic principles I have fought for since I introduced the Deal for All resolution in July: protecting seniors, the sick, and the vulnerable; ensuring that the wealthy contribute their fair share; and creating jobs for working Americans to help get our economy back on track.
“The top 2 percent can afford to contribute more, but this bill ensures that middle class Americans are not asked to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Asking the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to permanently pay their fair share is a positive step, as are modest increases in tax rates on money earned on Wall Street, and the phasing out of exemptions for the richest 2 percent.
“This agreement protects the lifelines seniors and the most vulnerable Americans rely on. The thousands of Minnesotan families who depend on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for medical care or food will not see cuts to their benefits. And the more than two million Americans who are looking for work will not lose their unemployment insurance.
“While I believe there is a critical need for investments in our economy beyond what is in this bill, it includes important economic help for 25 million middle class and working families with a five year extension of the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and tax credits to help Minnesota families pay for college. It also includes crucial investments in wind and solar energy to fuel our clean energy future.
“Our work is not done. Going forward, we cannot allow Congressional Republicans to again hold the country hostage over paying our bills. Congressional Democrats and President Obama must stand together with the vast majority of Americans who oppose benefit cuts for seniors or the sick. Any agreement to replace sequestration must also include significant new revenue and job investments, and must heed bipartisan calls for substantial defense savings. With over $1.7 trillion already cut from programs for American families and less than half of that amount raised in revenue, we have a long way to go towards balance. I will continue to fight on behalf of working Americans in these negotiations.”