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OC Congressmen Teeter on Fiscal Cliff with Anti-Tax Pledge on Their Backs

Your representative signed the Tax Pledge, but now must choose between letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire or reaching a deal with the president, who insists on raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

With America on the precipice of a so-called fiscal cliff, five Orange County congressmen must balance their earlier pledges not to raise taxes against the possibility that refusing to cut a deal with the White House will let Bush-era tax cuts expire.

President Barack Obama has made tax increases on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans a cornerstone of his proposal to cut the deficit. House Republicans have slammed the president’s plan, arguing it relies too heavily on tax increases instead of spending cuts to chip away at the debt.

This week, House Speaker John A. Boehner countered with a proposal to raise taxes on people who make $1 million a year as opposed to Obama’s plan to raise taxes on households that earn more than $250,000.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by the end of the year, most Americans will experience tax increases, a scenario that could shove the country back into a recession, experts warn. The “fiscal cliff”—a term popularized by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke—refers to the combination of Bush-era tax cuts expiring and across-the-board federal spending cuts set to take effect if no deal is reached.

Of the five congressmen representing Orange County Patch cities, all are Republicans who signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes. When pressed, none would specify if there were any circumstances in which they would go against their pledge and raise taxes on the wealthy to avert expiration of the Bush tax cuts for everyone else.

“We need to provide certainty to the economy and address our looming debt crisis, the sooner the better," Congressman Ed Royce, who represents Los Alamitos, said via email. "That means bringing in additional revenues through the closing of tax loopholes; I’ve always advocated for that. For example, I chaired our bipartisan Pork Busters Coalition to go after corporate welfare and close loopholes in the tax code and in the federal budget. We are drowning in debt primarily because of overspending in Washington and that has to be the major part of the solution. A compromise will rest on ironclad verification that the spending cuts are real.”

Rep. John Campbell, who represents Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach and Lake Forest through the end of the year, told Fox News his bottom line was entitlement reform to significantly reduce the deficit.

“It’s not about taxes," he told Fox. "It’s the deficit that will bring this country down. We are not talking about tax increases. I don’t think the tax increases are a good idea. I don’t think they’ll reduce the deficit much. But my … Democratic colleagues disagree. If that is what they want, fine. But in the end, we have to put together something that will make a significant reduction in this deficit. We can’t do that without impacting the major entitlements.”

Loopholes will be the focus of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who represents Fountain Valley and Seal Beach until 2013, then will represent the new 48th District stretching from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo.

“Mr. Rohrabacher is committed to avoiding the fiscal cliff by supporting a deal that drastically cuts spending in order to get our ever-increasing debt under control," spokeswoman Tara Olivia Setmayer said. "As part of that deal, he is open to considering new revenues—not by raising tax rates, but by reforming the tax code [and eliminating] certain preferences. But any deal must contain more in spending cuts than new revenue. Our constituents have worked hard for their money and are not supportive of having their rates raised simply so that Washington bureaucrats can waste it on bloated government programs.”

Congressman Darrell Issa, who will represent Dana Point, San Clemente, Coto De Caza, San Juan Capistrano and Ladera Ranch in the new 49th District, has come out against the President’s current proposal.

“The tax cut passed in 2001, which lowered taxes for all Americans, was written with an expiration date," Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said. "Tax rates are set to rise to previous levels unless Congress and the president reach a comprehensive agreement on spending cuts and an alternative approach to tax issues.  Congressman Issa would not support the plan President Obama has outlined. Rep. Issa would only lend his support to a fair approach making real and meaningful reductions in anticipated spending and a tax policy that does not approach small businesses and job creators as targets to pay for expanded government spending.”

Rep. Gary Miller, who currently represents Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, did not return calls regarding his stance on taxes and the fiscal cliff.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

Do you want your congressman to hold firm to the no-tax-increase pledge or be open to the possibility of a tax increase as part of a package to avert the fiscal cliff?

-- Patch reporter Ken Stone contributed to this report.

met00 December 22, 2012 at 09:26 PM
If Obama just let all the Bush Tax cuts expire, what would happen? For over 80% of the American public, nothing. So, the best course of action is to just do nothing and let Jan 2 be the start of the negotiations.
met00 December 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Mr. Bonney, Unless you make over $250K in joint income (over $150K in single income) from actual labour (not investments), then the odds are that you won't feel a damn thing if Obama does nothing and the Bush tax cuts expire. The only reason that this is a big issue is that most of the talking heads on your TV WILL be affected by letting the taxes expire. And they don't want to lose their benefits. There is no fiscal cliff for the country, and for almost 80% of the country the elimination of the Bush Tax cuts will not have any effect.
met00 December 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Spending is down from 1999. Taxes are down more than spending. Returning to the 1999 tax rates will not fill the hole, but it will help stop the bleeding. Returning to 1958 tax rates will start to fill the hole. Those are the facts.
JustUs December 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Joanna, the only reason Clinton ended with a surplus was because of the BOGUS dot.com bubble that he blew up which popped after he left office. Clinton created a FALSE ECONOMY! Just like the real estate bubble. No difference. We live in a bubble economy - that requires FALSE GDP PRODUCTION to sustain our standard of living. So you are in denial, Joanna. Have you ever watched Chris Matthews or Piers Morgan on TV, Joanna!!! hah! Talk about kool-aid dealers! hah! They are white poverty pimps and proponents of totalitarian government control! Both should wear a hammer and sickle on one lapel and lightning bolts on the other!! hah! Look what is happened to California, Joanna. The Sacramento liberal hacks are scaring away the big money. All you will have left are illegal aliens and government workers here. Good luck with that, dear! Who is going to be left to pay the taxes? The State is BANKRUPTED. The State fell $600M below budget projections just for November. hah! Your liberal democrats did that to us, Joanna! hah! Point your finger inward instead of outward next time you criticize, ok? hah! This is not 1930 anymore, Joanna. We are not able to create another world war to pull us out of our economic doldrums. And the other emerging economies like China are outproducing us and their economies are going to surpass ours. We are a dying nation due to the policies of the hand-wringing liberal democrats. They are destroying us. And it appears that you are applauding them!
Yeparoo December 22, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Get use to these three letters: V A T These three letters are crucial in order to pay for the safety hammock because the 99% belief system cannot say the words MC tax. That would be sacraligious to utter those words. Do the math, do the math, do the math.

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