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OC Congressmen Teeter on Fiscal Cliff with Anti-Tax Pledge on Their Backs

Your representative signed the Tax Pledge, but now must choose between letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire or reaching a deal with the president, who insists on raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

With America on the precipice of a so-called fiscal cliff, five Orange County congressmen must balance their earlier pledges not to raise taxes against the possibility that refusing to cut a deal with the White House will let Bush-era tax cuts expire.

President Barack Obama has made tax increases on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans a cornerstone of his proposal to cut the deficit. House Republicans have slammed the president’s plan, arguing it relies too heavily on tax increases instead of spending cuts to chip away at the debt.

This week, House Speaker John A. Boehner countered with a proposal to raise taxes on people who make $1 million a year as opposed to Obama’s plan to raise taxes on households that earn more than $250,000.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by the end of the year, most Americans will experience tax increases, a scenario that could shove the country back into a recession, experts warn. The “fiscal cliff”—a term popularized by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke—refers to the combination of Bush-era tax cuts expiring and across-the-board federal spending cuts set to take effect if no deal is reached.

Of the five congressmen representing Orange County Patch cities, all are Republicans who signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes. When pressed, none would specify if there were any circumstances in which they would go against their pledge and raise taxes on the wealthy to avert expiration of the Bush tax cuts for everyone else.

“We need to provide certainty to the economy and address our looming debt crisis, the sooner the better," Congressman Ed Royce, who represents Los Alamitos, said via email. "That means bringing in additional revenues through the closing of tax loopholes; I’ve always advocated for that. For example, I chaired our bipartisan Pork Busters Coalition to go after corporate welfare and close loopholes in the tax code and in the federal budget. We are drowning in debt primarily because of overspending in Washington and that has to be the major part of the solution. A compromise will rest on ironclad verification that the spending cuts are real.”

Rep. John Campbell, who represents Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach and Lake Forest through the end of the year, told Fox News his bottom line was entitlement reform to significantly reduce the deficit.

“It’s not about taxes," he told Fox. "It’s the deficit that will bring this country down. We are not talking about tax increases. I don’t think the tax increases are a good idea. I don’t think they’ll reduce the deficit much. But my … Democratic colleagues disagree. If that is what they want, fine. But in the end, we have to put together something that will make a significant reduction in this deficit. We can’t do that without impacting the major entitlements.”

Loopholes will be the focus of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who represents Fountain Valley and Seal Beach until 2013, then will represent the new 48th District stretching from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo.

“Mr. Rohrabacher is committed to avoiding the fiscal cliff by supporting a deal that drastically cuts spending in order to get our ever-increasing debt under control," spokeswoman Tara Olivia Setmayer said. "As part of that deal, he is open to considering new revenues—not by raising tax rates, but by reforming the tax code [and eliminating] certain preferences. But any deal must contain more in spending cuts than new revenue. Our constituents have worked hard for their money and are not supportive of having their rates raised simply so that Washington bureaucrats can waste it on bloated government programs.”

Congressman Darrell Issa, who will represent Dana Point, San Clemente, Coto De Caza, San Juan Capistrano and Ladera Ranch in the new 49th District, has come out against the President’s current proposal.

“The tax cut passed in 2001, which lowered taxes for all Americans, was written with an expiration date," Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said. "Tax rates are set to rise to previous levels unless Congress and the president reach a comprehensive agreement on spending cuts and an alternative approach to tax issues.  Congressman Issa would not support the plan President Obama has outlined. Rep. Issa would only lend his support to a fair approach making real and meaningful reductions in anticipated spending and a tax policy that does not approach small businesses and job creators as targets to pay for expanded government spending.”

Rep. Gary Miller, who currently represents Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, did not return calls regarding his stance on taxes and the fiscal cliff.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

Do you want your congressman to hold firm to the no-tax-increase pledge or be open to the possibility of a tax increase as part of a package to avert the fiscal cliff?

-- Patch reporter Ken Stone contributed to this report.

John Lindgren December 21, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Our congressmen are nuts. The Republician Party believes that it exists to protect the wealthy - and to _ _ _ _ with the rest of the country. As Romney said they do not represent the "other 47%". Actually it is worse then that. The wealthy in this country have become richer and richer while the rest of us struggle. They complain about the deficit and blame the Democrats when the last time we had a balanced budget was under a Democrat President. The current deficit is largely the result of the two wars - costing $1.4 trillion and the Bush tax cuts (cuts that benefited the rich far more than the rest of us. The only way that the budget is going to be balanced is if we have a plan that includes tax increases together with program cuts. The Republican plan of closing tax loopholes will never raise enough to begin cutting the deficit or balancing the budget. These congressmen that insist on sticking with their "no tax increases" pledge are going to push us over the cliff.
Shripathi Kamath December 21, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Two issues at work here, and they are being lumped in together. There is the long-term debt, which given by the interest rates being as low as they are, is really long term. People find US debt to be among the safest in the world. There is then this cliff which in this recovering economy will try to cut debt too fast. The CBO projects it'll plunge us back into a recession, but it also notes that it'll slow debt increases. The problem with a recession is that it cuts growth, which then means we do not generate enough towards the long term debt any time soon. If nothing gets done, marginal tax rates go up for everyone, which means everyone pays more and *the pledge is broken*. If we renew them for the 2nd bracket only, then everyone pays a little less *including the top earners* than if all brackets were to expire. So the options are 1 Everyone's taxes go up 2 No one's taxes go up 3 98% see no increases, and the other 2% get a cut up to 200/250K, and will see their taxes go up after that. Still, a better deal than 1. Today's failed vote (Plan B) confirms that Republicans will risk 1 to get 2 and call Obama's bluff on the one thing he has a mandate. Perhaps we should go over the cliff, because the unpaid wars need to be paid for. The sequestration will finally cut the bloated defense budget, and will cut something from domestic spending. Win-win-sacrifice... Remember, Boehner after the debt ceiling deal said that he got 98% of what he wanted.
Joanna Clark December 21, 2012 at 07:24 AM
I could not agree more with you, John. Our Congressman took an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution, yet they put a pledge to a private citizen before their oath of office. The rich not only benefited from the tax cuts bestowed on them by Congress, many of them benefited from war profiteering. Yet we continue to vote for them each time they run for reelection, despite the fact that they are robbing us blind.
JustUs December 21, 2012 at 07:30 AM
"Our Congressman took an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution, yet they put a pledge to a private citizen before their oath of office." Surely you jest, Joanna. Oaths mean nothing to these people. It's an inconvenient formality. And pledges mean nothing either. Pledges are made to be broken. We've seen that time and time again with politicians. They can take your vote and money based on promises made that are later broken. That, of course, is the definition of 'fraud'. Fraud that is immune from prosecution under the law. But if a businessman made fraudulent promises to customers about the capability of his product - he would have hell to pay in our court system. Two sets of laws, Joanna. One for us. One for them. Accept it. Be aware of it. But accept it. For that is what America has evolved into. More truth.
Joanna Clark December 21, 2012 at 07:51 AM
No JustUs, I do not jest... the majority of politicians lie to us everyday. I know that, you know that. The most distressing thing though, in my book, is that we have the power to change all that through our vote, yet we keep reelecting the same criminals over and over and over again. Campbell, Issa, Rohrabacher will no doubt make sure we go over the fiscal cliff, and we will all pay dearly because of them, but come next election the majority of voters will stupidly vote to reelect them.
Richard Shean December 21, 2012 at 03:08 PM
It's a spending problem, not a tax problem. If the top 1% income earners gave 100% of their earnings for taxes we would still have a huge deficit. There is no Federal Budget, and hasn't been one for more than 3 years. Harry Reid & Nancy Palosi don't understand the concept of a balanced budget b/c there is no budget.
Joker Joe December 21, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The Republicans will cave. Just watch as it has already started.......... Liars all except maybe Dana Rohrabacher. Let's try the cliff. Obama will have that much more money to play with. So what if we pay more in taxes. The majority voted for him. just 4 more years
Nancy December 21, 2012 at 05:27 PM
It is very much a tax problem! With reduced revenue (TEMPORARY Bush tax cuts), we don't have the means to pay for essentials( and those unfunded wars). Just like reducing work hours to part-time, you can't make the mortgage, buy food, or pay your utilities. And don't even go there about "entitlements for the lazy"--the biggest welfare queens are corporations.
JustUs December 21, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Looking back, I am sort of glad that Obama was reelected, William. Now he will have to accept responsibility for his broken policies of the last 4 years. Blaming Bush now would really make him look like the deceitful moron that he is. My belief is that the Republicans will cave and give him what he wants. They did it when they raised the debt ceiling about 1.5 years ago. And they will do it again. They will continue to boot the bucket until the laws of math comes into the room with a great big sledgehammer and puts a stop to all the insanity. They continue to talk about "taxes" while the phrase "cut spending" is void from their lexicon. Sooner or later they will pay. We will alll pay. It's going to get ugly. Just make sure that you have some sort of exit plan in place. Don't get sheared like all the other sheep and then sacrificed.
LN Mark December 21, 2012 at 09:26 PM
They've already gotten Obama to move from 250K to 400K. Yes, I expect they will get the deal done within seconds of the deadline, and they will have maximized their leverage to get the least damage to the economy possible in this political environment. In this negotiation, both sides know exactly where the opponent is, which makes it very interesting. They know what their doing, but all these reporters (and comment writers here) that never studied economics or negotiations do not understand the process, or what's at stake.
JustUs December 21, 2012 at 09:40 PM
LN Mark, then how many more times can they kick the bucket without the entire economy collapsing under the debtload? And if you are such an expert in the science of economics - you must understand that the longer it takes to address a crisis that the fallout from the crisis worsens exponentially, right sir? So who gets caught holding the bag? Your children? You grandchildren? In fact, I postulate that if you are 50 years old or younger there is a 95% possibility that you will get caught holding the bag. If I were a betting man, I would quadruple down on it. The math is not that hard to calculate unless you happen to be a government numbers cruncher.
MFriedrich December 21, 2012 at 10:26 PM
"Boehner's office called Obama's offer a "step in the right direction," but still said some work needed to be done." Yeah, like $600K to $700K more. Then we're good. Oh, those job creators!!!! http://www.businessinsider.com/report-obama-tax-rate-threshold-400k-2012-12
Joanna Clark December 22, 2012 at 02:57 AM
JustUS, you over look the fact that when Clinton left office we had a surplus. It was the Republicans that created this nightmare with the Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars. Not all of us have drank the Fox noise and Rush Limbaugh koolAID. I doubt if anyone posting here is in the 0.01% of the richest people in the country. I suspect that the majority are middle-class. Yet, you're willing to risk everything to make sure the 0.01% get a tax cut while you get stuck with the bill. In the 50s, the top tax rate was 91% for those with the highest incomes and yet their wealth continued to grow. We had the strongest economy ever, created the middle-class, and ultimately sent man to the moon. Then the Republicans began their assault on science, education, teachers, veterans, the middle-class, unions, and the poor. Their goal is a two-class society -- the ultra-rich and the starving poor. No more 40 hour work weeks, no more paid vacations, no more health care, no more retirement pensions, no more public schools, and no more unions -- the organizations that got us those benefits in the first place My parents lived through the great depression. I doubt if many here experienced what it was like. I was born in the last years of the great depression, and I have a few memories from that era. By the end of the 50s my parents were able to own their own home, own a new car, and both parents didn't have to work. And, unlike today, they weren't in debt up to their elbows.
met00 December 22, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Wow, a voice of reason in the wilderness. Fix the tax code. Return to the 1958 tax code of Republican Dwight D Eisenhower. Adjust all dollar figures in that code for inflation. Implement immediately. The fact of the mater is that the Chicago School and Milton Friedman were WRONG. Get over it. It didn't work. And continuing to double down on a failed fiscal policy in the hope that digging the hole twice as fast and twice as deep is going to somehow get you out of the hole you created in the first place isn't a policy, it's insanity. I really want to build an application that is attached to google maps so that when you get directions it tells you the number of bridges your path will take you over, the date they were built the "lifespan" of them and give you a calculated risk level for any one of them failing because we haven't fixed the infrastructure of this country. You want full employment? How about we tax at 1958 rates and use 50% of that increase to invest in rebuilding the infrastructure of this country before it starts to fail? Lot's of real jobs that are providing real service. Too bad the Congress is bought and paid for by special interest of the .1% (and not to let Obama off the hook, he is too! Just like McCain and/or Romney are.)
met00 December 22, 2012 at 09:26 PM
If Obama just let all the Bush Tax cuts expire, what would happen? For over 80% of the American public, nothing. So, the best course of action is to just do nothing and let Jan 2 be the start of the negotiations.
met00 December 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Mr. Bonney, Unless you make over $250K in joint income (over $150K in single income) from actual labour (not investments), then the odds are that you won't feel a damn thing if Obama does nothing and the Bush tax cuts expire. The only reason that this is a big issue is that most of the talking heads on your TV WILL be affected by letting the taxes expire. And they don't want to lose their benefits. There is no fiscal cliff for the country, and for almost 80% of the country the elimination of the Bush Tax cuts will not have any effect.
met00 December 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Spending is down from 1999. Taxes are down more than spending. Returning to the 1999 tax rates will not fill the hole, but it will help stop the bleeding. Returning to 1958 tax rates will start to fill the hole. Those are the facts.
JustUs December 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Joanna, the only reason Clinton ended with a surplus was because of the BOGUS dot.com bubble that he blew up which popped after he left office. Clinton created a FALSE ECONOMY! Just like the real estate bubble. No difference. We live in a bubble economy - that requires FALSE GDP PRODUCTION to sustain our standard of living. So you are in denial, Joanna. Have you ever watched Chris Matthews or Piers Morgan on TV, Joanna!!! hah! Talk about kool-aid dealers! hah! They are white poverty pimps and proponents of totalitarian government control! Both should wear a hammer and sickle on one lapel and lightning bolts on the other!! hah! Look what is happened to California, Joanna. The Sacramento liberal hacks are scaring away the big money. All you will have left are illegal aliens and government workers here. Good luck with that, dear! Who is going to be left to pay the taxes? The State is BANKRUPTED. The State fell $600M below budget projections just for November. hah! Your liberal democrats did that to us, Joanna! hah! Point your finger inward instead of outward next time you criticize, ok? hah! This is not 1930 anymore, Joanna. We are not able to create another world war to pull us out of our economic doldrums. And the other emerging economies like China are outproducing us and their economies are going to surpass ours. We are a dying nation due to the policies of the hand-wringing liberal democrats. They are destroying us. And it appears that you are applauding them!
Yeparoo December 22, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Get use to these three letters: V A T These three letters are crucial in order to pay for the safety hammock because the 99% belief system cannot say the words MC tax. That would be sacraligious to utter those words. Do the math, do the math, do the math.

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