Rep. Owens votes for ‘fiscal cliff’ stopgap, says more is required
Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 11:58 am

Congressman Bill Owens says he voted for and supports The American Taxpayer Relief Act, a stopgap measure to prevent the consequences of “going over the fiscal cliff.”

“This legislation represents a promise kept to protect the middle class from increased taxes while ensuring the very wealthy pay their fair share,” said Owens.

But he says the deal is just a temporary fix for some of the substantial issues facing Congress.

In a last-minute deal, last night the House of Representatives passed the legislation, 257-157, with support from Democrats and Republicans. Almost all of the New York delegation to the House voted for the bill.

That followed Senate passage early Tuesday. President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The North Country 23rd District representative said it falls far short of what is required and is not entirely what he wanted to see, but some break in the deadlock in Congress was overdue.

“While I would have liked to see the bill address spending and a comprehensive farm bill reauthorization, it was clear after weeks of negotiation that the time for talk was over. With middle class tax hikes averted, Congress should now get to work cutting federal spending and addressing the need for good farm policy.”

The compromise legislation would delay the sequester of federal spending by two months, which will still need to be addressed, Owens said.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 includes many of the proposals Owens advocated throughout the year. He supported allowing Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthy, either at the $250,000 or $500,000 level, believing this represented a compromise on the issue. This legislation would extend tax breaks up to $450,000 in income.

Owens also has called for a continuation of an estate tax exemption of up to $5 million per person and $10 million per couple, which he said supported family farmers. Legislation passed this week would maintain the $5 million / $10 million exemption. The threshold would also be indexed for inflation to protect farmers in rural areas.