AD Main Menu

Alaska's congressional delegates all vote yes on 'fiscal cliff' deal

Alaska Dispatch

All three of Alaska’s representatives in Washington voted for the “fiscal cliff” deal that Congress passed after months of failed discussions between Democrats and Republicans.

H.R. 8, the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,” sailed through the Senate with 89 senators voting for it, eight voting against and 3 abstaining.  In the House, the bill passed 257–167.

While noting that the bill has flaws, all of Alaska's representatives praised how it will affect residents.

“I support the deal today because it will mean 98 percent of Alaskans will not see their taxes increased and it will bring financial certainty to Alaskan families, small businesses and the world markets as we enter the new year,” Rep. Don Young said in a press release

“Alaskans can breathe a sigh of relief … knowing that most will not see the giant tax increases they were facing as a result of Congress’ inaction," Sen. Begich said in a press release.  "This deal – while not perfect – at least gives families and businesses the certainty they need to make spending plans and budgets for the new year.”

Sen. Murkowski also cited the avoidance of the tax hike on those making less than $400,000 -- or 366,000 out of 373,000 Alaska households filing taxes, according to Murkowski.

Additional provisions, according to Begich's press release:

  • Marginal income tax rates will rise to 39.6 percent on individuals with income of $400,000 or more and on households making $450,000 or more;
  • An adjustment to Medicare reimbursement rates that will maintain reimbursement rates for physicians;
  • A fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax adjusting it for inflation and shielding some 30 million American households with incomes greater than $65,000 per year;
  • An agreement on the estate tax would set the rate on inherited assets at 40 percent, exempting the first $5 million of an inherited estate for a single person and $10 million for married couples;
  • An extension of unemployment benefits for a year;
  • Extend 2009 stimulus provisions, including the earned income tax credit, child tax credit and college tax credit for five years;
  • And increase the tax rate on dividends and capital gains for families making more than $450,000 from 15 percent to 20 percent.

However, all three representatives expressed annoyance with the process, which was uncertain until the last moments of 2012.

Young said Congress “cannot continue to conduct the nation’s business this way,” Begich said “it shouldn’t have taken this long,” while Murkowski cited “frustration.”

The fiscal-cliff deal will produce $620 billion in deficient reduction over the next decade, a starting point that both parties agree is insufficient. The federal debt is just below $16.4 trillion.