South Carolina delegation discusses ‘fiscal cliff’ vote

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By The Staff

All but two of South Carolina’s delegation to Washington, D.C., voted against a Senate bill to avoid the effects of the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

U.S. House members voted 257-167 to support a last-minute Senate bill put together by the White House and Senate Republicans, including U.S. House leader John Boehner and 84 other Republicans.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was among the 89 senators who voted for the bill, while U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who is leaving the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation, did not vote on the bill. Eight senators voted against the bill.

All five of South Carolina’s Republican congressmen voted against the Senate bill, including U.S. House District 5 Rep. Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land, District 1 Rep. Tim Scott, District 2 Rep. Joe Wilson, District 3 Rep. Jeff Duncan and District 4 Rep. Trey Gowdy.

U.S. House District 6 Congressman Jim Clyburn voted in support of the bill.

Mulvaney released a statement Wednesday explaining his vote, saying he was “extremely disappointed” with the bill’s passage.

“Quite simply, the agreement raises spending. Again,” Mulvaney said. “Indeed, its passage seems to reaffirm a disturbing truth about today’s Washington: Compromises always lead to more spending and more debt.

“Last night, we added $330,000,000,000 to the national debt with new spending programs,” he said. “At best, we have no plan for ever repaying that money; at worst, we have no intention to ever pay it back.”

Mulvaney went on to classify borrowing money without the intention of paying it back as “theft.”

He said such “theft” was a habit that Washington had been doing far too long, and said instead of turning the tide against such practices, the nation, “continued our lazy ride toward inevitable financial ruin.”

Mulvaney also took the opportunity to slam President Barack Obama for lauding the deal as a “balanced approach.”

“To me, a balanced approach means 1) more revenue and 2) less spending,” Mulvaney said in the release. “The fact that the president, or indeed, for that matter, anyone, considers more revenue and more spending to be ‘balanced’ – is truly frightening.

“If that is the ‘balance’ the president wants, I want none of it,” he said.

Mulvaney lauded the fact that the agreement locks in current tax rates for many Americans, provides a fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax and provides improvements to the “death tax” provisions.

Mulvaney said he understands why many of his colleagues in the House found the provisions attractive and said if the bill “had been just about the taxes,” he might have supported it.

He went on to deride “trading increased spending and deficits for lower taxes” as not a plan for compromise, but a “formula for economic collapse.”

“Also lost in the flurry of excitement over averting the fiscal cliff have been the literally dozens of special-interest tax carve-outs for everything from wind energy to Hollywood movie production,” Mulvaney said. “Crony capitalism, it seems, is alive and well in Washington.

“This is wrong. It has to stop,” he said. “We are spending ourselves into national decline. We had a chance last night to stop that, even if just for a bit. We failed. And by doing so, we failed the country.”

As the lone South Carolina congressman voting in support of the Senate bill, Clyburn called on his fellow House members during a floor speech leading up to the vote to “put aside extreme partisanship” and “work together on compromises to address the nation’s most pressing issues.

“But in reality, it is far past time that we put aside extreme partisanship,” assistant House minority leader Clyburn said. “Throughout the entirety of the 112th Congress, the Republican leadership repeatedly put its own narrow political interests ahead of the public interest.

“So here we are on New Year’s night, with the clock running out on the very existence of this Congress, finally considering bipartisan legislation to provide middle-class tax cuts, require the wealthiest to once again pay their fair share so we can grow the economy, create jobs and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“It is indeed well past time we got about the people’s business,” he said.

Clyburn said he’d worked with the bipartisan “Biden Group” to address the country’s fiscal issues, a group he said made good progress until “our Republican friends walked away, fearing the wrath of the Tea Party Caucus” in the House.

Clyburn said he also served on the bipartisan “Super Committee” that appeared to be able to reach a fiscal deal until Republican leadership in the House “refused to compromise.”

The Super Committee’s failure to reach a deal resulted in the sequestration portion of the “fiscal cliff” situation.

“So here we are,” Clyburn said. “While this bill is not perfect, and I have serious concerns about some of the cuts it contains, it does contain the element of fairness.

“This bill protects the middle class and working people with a more progressive tax code than we’ve had in a very long time,” he said. “And this bill prevents the meat-axe approach to budget cuts that could do severe damage to our national defense and important domestic priorities.

“Mr. Speaker, I hope that the partisanship of the 112th Congress will end this week with the end of the 112th Congress,” he said. “And I am hopeful that the 113th Congress can work together toward honorable compromises that get the people’s business done.”

Though he did not release a formal comment explaining his vote, Graham encouraged House Republicans during a Fox News interview Monday night to vote for the Senate bill instead of taking the blame for not voting to avoid dire tax increases associated with the fiscal cliff.

“You need to understand this: If we don’t get this tax rate problem fixed for all Americans, the economy is going to collapse,” Graham said. “The stock market will go down, the Defense Department is going to become unraveled.

“We’re going to get blamed and, about two weeks into this, we’ll fold like a cheap suit,” Graham said. 

“Save your powder for the debt-ceiling fight.”