The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 1, 2012

29 days to ‘cliff,’ pols silent over tax pledge

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— By Rick Dandes

The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Valley congressmen refused to say outright late last week whether they would violate their pledge to lobbyist Grover Norquist by allowing George W. Bush-era tax cuts to expire Dec. 31 only on the wealthiest of Americans, and avoid triggering a possible recession.

Republican Reps. Tom Marino and Lou Barletta, and Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey signed the pledge created by Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

The 219 representatives and 39 senators who will serve in the 113th Congress signed on to agree to oppose any effort to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

If Republicans and Democrats cannot compromise by Dec. 31, the average American household would see its federal taxes increase by almost $3,500 in 2013, which could jeopardize an economy limping along after a recession ended in mid-2009.

Pressure is great for Democrats, who support the extension of the Bush tax cuts only for those in the middle and lower income brackets, and Republicans, who oppose new taxes on the wealthy.

The GOP trio representing the Valley did say that to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, closing tax loopholes and reducing deductions are negotiable — but only if Democrats allow cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

“I have always believed that everything must be on the table when addressing our nation’s debt and deficit,” Marino, R-10, of Cogan Station, said Friday, “and when I say everything is on the table, I mean everything is on the table.”

Read more of this story in Sunday's edition of The Daily Item.