Tax Relief and Economic Certainty – Passage of the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012
My wife, Penny, and I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2013. We have been very blessed this year with the addition of the first Thompson grandson, making this past holiday season exceptionally special. In addition, I would like to reiterate how much of an honor it is to continue serving on your behalf in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 113th Congress.
It has been a busy week in Washington. Congress just passed legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff”. The House also passed legislation to overturn the President’s Executive Order to grant a pay raise for federal workers, including Members of Congress.
We have been hearing a lot about the fiscal cliff, yet many have not realized that scheduled tax increases coupled with scheduled spending cuts have most economists warning the U.S. economy would be forced back into recession – unless Congress acted.
In an effort to avert the fiscal cliff, beginning last spring on May 10, 2012, the House passed legislation to fully replace sequestration with targeted cuts achieving the same level of deficit reduction, which I voted to support. Additionally, on August 1, 2012, the House passed legislation to extend current tax provisions for all income levels and set a framework for comprehensive tax reform, which I also voted to support. Unfortunately, both of these measures were denied consideration by the Senate.
After months of negotiation, this past week, the Senate finally came to the negotiating table, and on New Year’s Day the House and Senate agreed to and passed H.R. 8, the “Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012.” While far from a perfect, the bill protects 99% of taxpayers from tax rate increases and provides economic certainty by making the lower rates permanent, which is necessary for families to plan and businesses to grow. Unlike the House-passed legislation, the agreement merely postpones the automatic sequestration cuts for two months. While the postponed cuts are paid for by lower discretionary spending caps, this issue must be addressed in the weeks ahead.
With the tax piece averted, Washington must now turn to solving not only sequestration but the larger and more pressing issue – in my opinion, the real fiscal cliff – which is out of control spending and a mounting national debt.
Over the last two years, the House has put forward serious proposals to reduce our national debt, only to see these measures disregarded by the President or languish in the Senate.
While the President has called for more tax increases in order to reduce the debt, he fails to understand or refuses to admit the underlying problem: spending. Which is why in the weeks ahead, I will continue to call on the President and his colleagues in the Senate to join the House in working to address the nation’s spending problem.
Please continue reading for additional updates on the fiscal cliff and other issues and developments from Washington and across the 5th District.
Thompson-Sponsored Congressional Pay Freeze Act Passes House: On December 31, 2012, I voted to support H.R. 6276, the “Congressional Pay Freeze Act,” which extends the existing pay freeze for federal workers through Calendar year 2013. President Obama on December 27th, 2012 issued an Executive Order rescinding this pay freeze, including for Members of Congress and his own Administration, which just isn’t right considering our underlying fiscal problems have not been fully addressed.
Tax Relief & Economic Certainty – Passage of the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012: On January 1, 2013, the U.S. House passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff by a vote of 257-167. Without passage of this agreement, each and every one of my constituents would have received a tax increase, which is not an outcome I could have supported. Included in the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012:
Extends the 2001 and 2003 income tax rates for taxable income for 99% of Americans:
- Provides economic certainty by making the lower tax rates permanent.
- Avoids the estate tax from reverting back to 55% level.
- Prevents millions of Americans from having to pay higher taxes by indexing the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation.
- Maintains marriage penalty relief and extends for five years the expanded child tax credit.
Leadership Roles in the 113th Congress: This past week, U.S. House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, once again nominated me to serve as chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry. This will be my second term serving as chairman of the subcommittee and a huge opportunity to continue representing Pennsylvania agriculture - which is our number one industry - in the U.S. House.
During the last term, the subcommittee conducted thorough oversight of federal forestry and energy programs, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Forest Service (FS), and national conservation and watershed programs, which are administered by USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Expanded oversight of federal agencies to ensure regulatory efforts achieve shared goals without undermining the economic viability of local economies and businesses will remain a top priority on the subcommittee.
The subcommittee also conducted two years of audit hearings to review each title of federal agriculture policy under its jurisdiction, before drafting news titles for the upcoming farm bill. This work will continue as we push for a full 5-year farm bill reauthorization in the coming weeks and months.
Committee Assignments for the Next Congressional Term: In addition to the Agriculture Committee, I will also begin a third term on the House Education & the Workforce Committee, and a second term on the House Natural Resources Committee.
On the House Natural Resources Committee, I will continue to push for responsible development and expanded production of our domestic resources, which is critical to our economic and national security. On education, restoring maximum flexibility at the local level, along with improving our career and technical education programs, will remain fundamental priorities of mine as the House Education Committee moves forward with reforming federal education programs.
Visiting Our Wounded Warriors: On December 14, 2012 my wife, Penny, and I had the honor to join Defense Department employees, soldiers, military families and volunteers for the Wounded Warrior Welcome at the Pentagon in Washington, DC...The Warrior Welcome is a monthly event which takes places in the corridors of the Pentagon where hundreds gather to welcome home, thank, and pay respect to our brave wounded military personnel... Following the Warrior Welcome, we headed to Ft. Belvoir, Va., to visit with the Wounded Warriors of the Warrior Transition Brigade. While there, we met with soldiers and families during a lunch ceremony at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center. (Picture: Thompson at Warrior Transition Brigade.)