Fitzpatrick: Obama’s ‘Ideology’ Hurting Negotiations

The Intelligencer

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick accused the president of playing politics with the nation’s economic problems Tuesday, claiming that his “hard-line stance” to raise tax rates on the wealthy is an “ideological position that has taken priority over the practical need to generate more revenue.”

Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, also said that by focusing solely on the lapsing of the Bush tax cuts, “many are missing the forest for the trees.”

He said the scheduled reduction of about 30 percent in Medicare reimbursement payments to health providers at year’s end and the federal debt limit almost certain to be reached this winter should be part of current fiscal cliff negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.

“Singling out one piece of the puzzle without seeing how all the other pieces can fit together, while politically expedient for some, is reckless and just bad policymaking,” Fitzpatrick said.

Speaking to a group of about three dozen business leaders Tuesday in Perkasie, Fitzpatrick said “Let’s go bigger. Let’s do it once, let’s do it right and let’s not do it again. … That’s what the people want. They want a solution.

“It’s not going to make everybody happy, but at least it’s solved and the country can move on.”

Just one day earlier, Fitzpatrick was the focus of ire by progressive organizations seeking to pressure congressional Republicans into ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest income earners and protect programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The event was one of hundreds of similar gatherings nationwide.

The Bush tax rates set to expire at year’s end are part of the looming fiscal cliff, which also includes steep, across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs. The combination of tax increases and spending cuts would wring more than half a trillion dollars from the economy in the first nine months of next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

If the tax rates expire, middle class families would on average have a $2,200 tax increase, according to the White House.

President Barack Obama has said he wants the tax rates to increase for individuals making $200,000 a year and couples making $250,000, but continue for those with lower incomes. The Senate has passed such a proposal. The House, however, passed a plan to continue the decade old rates for all earners.

Two area business leaders — William Marsh of American Bar Products and Bill Edmonds of B&G Manufacturing — said increasing tax rates will prevent them from reinvesting in their businesses and make them less competitive.

They spoke at Tuesday’s event, sponsored by the Indian Valley, Pennridge and Upper Bucks chambers.

Marsh said the economic climate is causing him to “batten down the hatches and ready our shop for the storm of the century.”

Obama, who recently visited a Montgomery County business to pitch his plan, has proposed $1.6 trillion in new taxes over 10 years, new spending for the unemployed and struggling homeowners and savings of about $400 billion in entitlement programs like Medicare.

The scene playing out on Capitol Hill is a familiar one as lawmakers with competing ideologies wage an 11th-hour battle to avert another predictable crisis. This one comes just a year after an equally divided Washington nearly let the country default on its loan obligations — a debt-ceiling debate that contributed to the electorate’s deep lack of faith in their elected leaders and a drop in the nation’s credit rating.

The government is on track to hit its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit later this month. The Treasury, however, can keep the government functioning through early next year.

Obama has asked Congress for authority to raise the debt limit without prior approval.

The idea incensed state Rep. Paul Clymer, R-145, who helped put together the chamber meeting.

“In his first four years President Obama has increased the national debt more than any other president and his spending continues unabated,” Clymer said.

He said handing the president the power over the debt limit would lead to “fiscal turbulence and financial chaos.”

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