The bottom line for Arkansas politics on last night’s temporary fiscal deal were the votes by Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro and Rep. Tim Griffin of Bryant/Searcy/Vilonia against a nominal tax increase for the very wealthy. More extreme than Dr. No Boozman. More extreme than Steve Womack. More extreme than Mike Ross. They really put down a marker last night.
The battle resumes in two months. By last night’s vote, it seems safe to bet that the extremists will shut down government and default on U.S. debt rather than allow a spending plan that doesn’t suit them, meaning long on guns, short on butter and without flexibility for the government in the debt ceiling.
Griffin and Crawford aligned with the Eric Cantor camp, radicals all. So you can imagine what they’ll have to say about the president’s statement:
Republicans hope to fight for more spending cuts in the debt-ceiling vote, but Mr. Obama warned against that tactic.
“While I will negotiate over many things,” he said, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up through the laws they have passed. Let me repeat: we can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred.”
PS — The hypocrisy has been staggering. The Democrats accepted a compromise that raised the payroll tax, meaning a tax increase for everyone, even the poorest. Radical Repubs have been Twittering about this all night, as if they’d have approved a tax plan that only hit the wealthy. They demanded the pound of flesh from working poor and, lamentably, circumstances required it.
A group working for the tax increase in Arkansas issued this statement:
The long national nightmare is over as the U.S. House approved by a 257-167 margin the strongly bipartisan Senate ‘fiscal cliff’ avoidance bill that will effectively roll back the $2,200 middle class tax hike that was triggered automatically on midnight January 1st. The bill is now headed to the President’s desk despite Crawford and Griffin’s misguided opposition to permanently extending tax relief for all except individuals making more than $400,000 a year and families making more than $450,000. These wealthy Americans will see their tax rates go from 35% back to Clinton-era level of 39.6 percent when the nation saw one of its greatest periods of economic prosperity and job creation, a move not only supported by the American people but by even most millionaires. Additionally, the ‘fiscal cliff’ avoidance bill also includes other important measures to protect families and spur economic growth, including extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed (which expired Friday) through the end of 2013.
Gary Moody, with Arkansas Fair Share: “We’re relieved and elated that Congress has come to its senses and passed this economically responsible bill that will protect and promote job growth by restoring tax relief for most all Americans and small businesses. It’s a huge victory for Arkansas’s middle class families that were worried about the tough choices they would have had to make with $2,200 less in their pockets, had Congress failed to act. It is a huge victory for most Americans who believe the wealthiest among us should chip in their fair share to address our long-term budget challenges and for critical investments that create and sustain jobs. To say Crawford and Griffin’s votes against the middle class tax relief bill are disappointing would be a major understatement, as would calling their actions reckless and irresponsible. Look, we all get that these Congressmen are passionate about protecting tax breaks for millionaires who don’t need or want them, but it is truly pathetic that they were willing to let taxes spike for the middle class to get their way. Do Congressmen Crawford and Griffin actually believe folks that make over $37,500 a month can’t afford to pay a little bit more to help strengthen the economy for everyone? If the Congressmen’s New Year’s resolutions were to prioritize millionaires over the middle class and to do everything in their power to sabotage the economy for political gain, they are off to a remarkable start.”