By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The so-called fiscal cliff has been avoided for now, but the North Country congressional delegation says a more permanent agreement is imperative.
“Our constitutional design requires consensus to effect political change,” Congressman Chris Gibson said in a statement. “In any era of divided government, if we do not work together, we will keep the status quo. In my view, that is completely unacceptable.
“We now have about two months to reach a major agreement to stabilize our deficit ... Our country and future generations are counting on us to get this done, and 2013 must be the year.”
PROTECTS MIDDLE CLASS
Gibson, a Republican from Kinderhook in Columbia County representing the 20th District, which includes part of Essex County; and Bill Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh representing Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties in the 21st District, both voted for the plan to avert the highly publicized budget problems.
If a deal had not been struck, a combination of automatic tax hikes, expiring tax breaks and significant cuts in government spending would have kicked in.
Owens said he was pleased that the deal protects the middle class from tax increases, but he wishes more could be done.
“This legislation represents a promise kept to protect the middle class from increased taxes while ensuring the very wealthy pay their fair share,” he said.
“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,” Owens added in a news release. “With middle-class tax hikes averted, Congress should now get to work cutting federal spending and addressing the need for good farm policy.”
The deal does include provisions to stem some of the damage the lack of a new farm bill would have caused, including fears that milk prices at stores would double.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said the Senate’s plan for a new farm bill should be passed by the House.
“I am pleased that the year-end ‘fiscal cliff’ deal includes a provision to avoid the ‘dairy cliff,’ which would have meant chaos for family farmers and sticker shock throughout New York’s supermarkets, with the doubling of milk prices,” he said in a release.
“For months, I have urged the House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s bipartisan five-year farm bill, and while the extension of the 2008 farm bill is far from perfect, it avoids an unnecessary burden on families, schools and farmers alike.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also a Democrat, said the process was very frustrating.
“This is as frustrated as I’ve been in my short time in Washington,” she said.
“The partisan paralysis we went though with this ‘fiscal cliff’ compromise only makes it harder on the middle-class families we are here to serve. Americans deserve better than this dysfunction.”
The deal included making the lower tax rates of the President George W. Bush era permanent, which Gibson said would help many in his area.
“I support this bill and voted yes, as it provides much-needed tax relief for over 99 percent of my constituents,” he said.
“Making these tax cuts permanent was one of my major goals when I first ran for Congress. This will help small businesses grow and working families keep more of their hard-earned money.”
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