OR: Cliff Votes: Local lawmakers explain sides of fiscal cliff deal

By   /   January 3, 2013  /   1 Comment

Four of Oregon’s seven congressional delegates voted for the fiscal cliff deal.

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

PORTLAND – The majority of Oregon’s federal  lawmakers voted for the fiscal cliff deal on Tuesday, calling it protection for the middle class.

Four of the seven elected officials, two U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives, joined the majority of Congress in voting for the deal.

The U.S. Senate approved the deal, 89-8 and the House voted it up, 257-167. The agreement will extend middle-class tax cuts, child-care and educational tax credits and emergency unemployment benefits. People making more than $400,000 a year will face higher tax rates. The deal delays by two months a series of automatic cuts that would have reduced the budgets of many federal programs by up to 10 percent.

Here’s how your lawmakers voted and what they had to say – with links to full statements.


U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-District 2: Full statement

“The plan passed tonight locks into place current tax rates for middle class families as our economy continues to struggle. It permanently holds down the death tax for small business owners, farmers, and ranchers. It permanently patches the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and extends the higher child tax credit. The plan does away with a new entitlement program created in Obamacare, and stops the President from giving members of Congress a pay increase as the President proposed. Finally, it extends the existing farm bill for one year as Congress works on a new long-term farm bill.”

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-District 1: Full statement

“This bill is not perfect, but it is the result of negotiation and compromise among Congress, the Administration, and the two political parties. These are virtues that all Members of Congress should aspire to, and I sincerely hope that it represents the opening of a new chapter after one of the most inefficient and divisive sessions of Congress in memory.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat: Full statement

“Without this bill, every family in Oregon would have seen its tax bills go up and our economy would have gone back into a recession. Without this bill, 30,000 unemployed Oregonians would have been cut off at the knees, without money to pay for food or rent as they look for work. And importantly, this bill protects the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits our seniors depend on.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, Democrat: Full statement

“While the Senate found a way to steer America away from steep income tax increases on the middle class, maintain current reimbursements for doctors serving vulnerable seniors, and provide a break for working class families with children and college students, the manner in which this was produced felt more like Thelma and Louise than rational policy making. I will do everything possible to end the political brinksmanship and work for bipartisan tax, budget and Medicare reforms that create good paying American jobs and protect the Medicare guarantee while holding down health care costs.”


U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-District 5: Full statement

“This is yet another short-term, Band-Aid solution that has become prevalent in Washington as of late,” Rep. Schrader said. “It neither tackles the largest drivers of our deficits, nor lays a framework to say we will do so in the future. I remain staunchly committed to passing a big, bold deficit reduction and jobs package that puts everything on the table, including revenue, spending cuts and entitlement reforms, puts our nation back on a fiscally sound trajectory and promotes growth and certainty for our businesses.”

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-District 3: Full video statement

“We must do better.”

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-District 4: Full statement and video

“Middle class Americans and seniors who have earned these benefits should not be asked to shoulder the burden of a deficit caused in large part by eleven years of the Bush tax cuts, two years of the Obama tax cuts, a deep economic recession caused by reckless Wall Street gambling, two wars charged to the credit card, and unrestrained federal spending in other areas.

“We need to address our fiscal issues head on and balance the budget with a balanced approach. This is not a balanced plan and puts in jeopardy Social Security, Medicare and other programs essential to the middle class.”

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @ShelbySebens. For more Northwest Watchdog updates, visit NWWatchdog on Facebook and Twitter.


Shelby formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Debra Jones

    You have no idea how much the middle class have been affected by the economic downfall of the government. I unfortunately, have been truly affected by medicare and SS. I became very ill before the age of retirement, was forced into medicare and Social Security, a few mths prior to the age of 55. I have always worked with the exception of four years, while I had my two children. I have paid into Social Security and medicare since the age of 14 yrs old. I worked as a professional, had also purchased STD & LTD in the case of unforeseen circumstances, so I could care for myself and children.

    I came from a hard working family who worked for what they earned and have paid their exuberant large share of taxes for generations. I’ll keep it short, but give you one example of my frustrations. I became a single parent in 1997, when my children were in grade school. My x-husband was not one to make sure to participate in his due diligence by helping support our children emotionally, physically or educationally, let alone consistent child support. Therefore, it was my position to work harder, go back to school, while working, to be able to increase my income to care for my children’s everyday needs and their future. I worked hard, while being there for my children’s sports, homework, extracurricular activities, security and support in every way I was able.

    When I became ill, thank God my children were out of college and working. I became so ill my son quit his job to stay home with me for two years, until I received a liver transplant. I couldn’t walk without falling and was mentally affected by the water building up in my body including my head. Someone else, my daughter, had to oversee paying my bills and taking care of my finances. This was the first time I had late payments in my life. Since there are no provision for people who are disabled through an illness my credit has been effected. I then had to have a kidney transplant, because it took so long to get a liver match. I was told after my liver transplant, I received the liver 24-48 hrs prior to my predicted death. Well, since they waited so long for the liver my kidneys began to fail, never having kidney problems prior. I know I am a survivor, I do what I have to do or can do.

    What was the hardest for me I was slowly loosing everything I worked for throughout my life. The cost of all the medical bills was absorbent, which totally effected my ability to even buy food. Yet, there was one time when I had to share a room in the hospital with a female in her 40’s. She also had a problem with her liver. After communication with this patient and over hearing conversations between her and her family, I came to realize this Country does not help the person who has worked, but the person who has worked. This female was from Colorado, moved to Oregon, was living with her Aunt, who helped care for her. She had not been living in the state of Oregon, but got every need taken care of by the Oregon and Federal government. She did not have to pay one medical bill, was granted someone to come into her Aunt’s home and clean it every week, taxi rides to her medical appointments and hospital, along with her Aunt and Uncle. She did not have to pay anything because she had no money of her own, since she never bothered to work and pay taxes. So she received financial support, even her insurance plan free through Medicaid, prescriptions, medical bills, with no co-pays and more all for free.

    But yet here was me that had always worked and could not receive any type of temporary aide of any kind for prescriptions, home health care. Not only worrying about being sick, but if I made it through this, how would I take care of myself in the future? But things have gone from bad to worse. The LTD I paid for years, unbeknownst to me at age 59 1/2 they can make you take a prorated share of your entire retirement. That amount is then deducted from your LTD payment. So if your close to the age of retirement and have paid into the LTD plan for years, you do not receive the benefit in its entirety if you have bothered to work for a retirement. I do not have a big retirement, since helping my children pay for college, and didn’t work in a job where I received retirement benefits until 1997. Our economy has not helped anyone’s retirement plan growth for sometime. For ten years I owned my own retail business, a video store, had no retirement plan there. The business was not big enough or did it generate enough income to do so. Only employed part time people, so I could also care for my children in the evening and morning prior to school. They were my priority!

    Since LTD has begun to force a cut to my LTD, the prorate of share I can take from my retirement, my check is now lower. If I was to take that prorate of share from my retirement I will have nothing for an emergency such as a major home repair. I only have approximately 18,000.00 in my retirement fund with the state of Oregon. I move my retirement from another job as an HR Manager in the high tech world to the Oregon State Lottery where I worked when I became ill with liver cancer. So where does that leave a person like me? NO longer middle class after working all my teen and adult life. Is it really fair for the guy whose not worked for anything, let other people always pay for them to have everything and more be paid for them. No worries, no big financial changes in their lives, but they really affect the middle class who have paid most of the dollars into there free medical, financial, food, insurance and other care needs. And the government wants to take more from the people who have paid into this plan for most of their lives. What reward those who decide to be losers and not contribute to society (government). Don’t get me wrong there are legitimate people who need help, but the government needs to oversee, enforce boundaries, and not enable those who could contribute to society.

    I compare taking or downsizing our benefits we have worked for, like Enron stealing retirement benefit for all those that worked for them and paid into them. The government is not proving to be any different than a large corporation that the leaders are the only one’s to benefit from all the employees years of hard work. Those that didn’t work for them are not affected by their lack of ethics and integrity, such as most of those on medicaid and free assistant who take advantage, are enabled not to help themselves and the rest of the United States.

    I feel so cheated! But I am so grateful to God that he saw fit for me to live to see my grandchildren, get to the healthier point to help others part time, and volunteer with other who have been through the horrible disease I encountered. Everyone needs moral support as well as they support they have worked to attain.

    I could give another example about getting medicare supplemental or advantage insurance. The misnomers to the elderly or the disabled in making sure they understand, get fair, and truthful assistance in deciding which type insurance to choose! I have learned so much in all of the possibilities that can make your hard so much harder for the elder and the disabled.
    Someone needs to stand up for what we’ve earned and paid into, with the idea we’d have a retirement through the government. Where we’d be able to have a financially and medically appropriate life, since we had paid into the benefit of having this for ourselves at retirement or an unforeseen necessary early retirement due to extensive health issues by working for a future to survive.