Ribble Votes to Provide Tax Certainty

Jan 1, 2013 Issues: Agriculture, Budget, Jobs and the Economy, Taxes

Washington, DC—Representative Reid Ribble (WI-08) made the following statement on his vote to avert the fiscal cliff.
“Although this bill is far from ideal, and there is still much to be done, this legislation will provide tax certainty to millions of Americans and hardworking families. This bill also averts the dairy cliff by protecting dairy farmers, manufacturers, and consumers from substantial market uncertainty and higher retail prices.

"Going over the fiscal cliff would mean tax increases on everyone and that is not what our fragile economy needs right now. I have said time and again that we should keep tax rates where they are until comprehensive tax reform can be achieved, and this bill does that for nearly 99 percent of all Americans.
"I hope that the President and Senator Harry Reid will work on closing the gap and coming up with a solution that will address 100 percent of the problem. I have been outspoken that in order to get our economy back on track, revenue must go up and spending must go down. There is no other way to put it, so until there is significant spending cuts, our country will wind up back in the same upside down situation: spending more than we take in.
"The drama and controversy that surround all of these 11th hour votes unfortunately overshadowed several important provisions for northeast Wisconsin.  I am pleased that the bill includes an extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract dairy program. I led a large number of my House and Senate colleagues to press for its inclusion because going over the dairy cliff would threaten northeast Wisconsin’s most vital industries. I am also supportive of language in the bill to prevent a scheduled reduction in Medicare physician payment rates to ensure continued access to care for seniors.

"The path to this fiscal cliff vote was distasteful and unfortunate I hope that with the start of the New Year and 113th Congress there will be less focus on partisan games and more on fixing problems.”

Kevin Hoewisch, family dairy producer from Fremont, WI, commented on Ribble’s efforts to extend the MILC program:

“A viable safety net in an ever changing market is important to family farmers.  Despite the lack of a five-year farm bill, we appreciate the efforts of Congressman Ribble to bring the full MILC program back to the table during this extension.  While we don’t want to use the program, it is nice knowing it is there.”

Bernie Vander Heiden, a dairy producer in Kaukauna, WI, also praised Ribble for his work on the MILC extension:

“This extension provides a minimal safety net to dairy farmers, but Congressman Ribble was a major help when he ensured the MILC program in its 2008 form was included in the bill. Without the program, we would have been left on an island and he assured us a lifeboat while congress continues to work out their differences this year.”

Key Provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (H.R. 8):

  • Permanent Tax Relief and Certainty: H.R. 8 will permanently extend the 10 percent individual income tax bracket, which would have expired without further legislative action.  The bill will also permanently extend the 25 percent, 28 percent, and 33 percent tax rates on income at or below $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families.  These brackets would have risen to 28 percent, 31 percent, and 36 percent, respectively, without further action.  Permanent tax rates will provide much-needed certainty for families and small businesses, eliminating the need for temporary, short-term fixes that stifle renewed economic activity.
  • Permanent Estate Tax Relief: H.R. 8 will make permanent a top estate tax rate of 40 percent, with a permanent exemption of $5 million indexed for inflation moving forward.  Without legislative action, the top estate tax rate would have increased to 55 percent, and the exemption would have fallen to $1 million.  Permanently staving off this higher rate presents a unique economic opportunity for farmers and manufacturers in Northeastern Wisconsin.
  • Permanent Alternative Minimum Tax Relief: H.R. 8 will permanently index the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation.  The AMT was originally created to ensure that higher-income Americans paid a certain amount of taxes, but because it was not indexed for inflation, the tax has ensnared more and more American families in recent years.
  • Extends the MILC Dairy Program and Avoids the Dairy Cliff: H.R. 8 would extend the Milk Income Loss Contract program, which has provided an important safety net for Wisconsin dairy farmers when milk prices drop drastically and feed costs rise.  Importantly, H.R. 8 ensures that the program will trigger in a meaningful way that helps dairy producers to manage risk.  Congressman Ribble led a bipartisan, bicameral coalition to ensure the continuation of this program until a new Farm Bill has been completed.  Click here for Congressman Ribble’s letter on this issue.  Without further legislative action, the MILC program would have expired and dairy price supports would have dramatically risen, saddling our dairy market with major uncertainty and causing consumer prices to skyrocket.
  • Continued Relief for Medicare Physicians and Rural Hospitals: H.R. 8 would prevent for one year a scheduled reduction in Medicare physician payment rates.  Without legislative action, physician payment rates would have decreased by 26.5 percent, jeopardizing access to care for many seniors.  The bill also includes provisions from the Rural Hospital Access Act (H.R. 5943) cosponsored by Congressman Ribble to support rural health care infrastructure, including rural hospitals that are greatly dependent on Medicare patients.
  • No Debt Limit Increase: H.R. 8 does not include any increase in the federal debt limit.