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Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette. (American Press Archives)

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette. (American Press Archives)

More than half of Louisiana’s congressional delegation voted against fiscal cliff deal

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 02, 2013 7:40 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Along with more than half of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, voted against the bipartisan deal that would keep the country from going over the so-called “fiscal cliff” of major tax increases and spending cuts.

“Washington voted to raise income tax rates for the first time in over two decades,” Boustany said in a news release. “I voted against this bill due to its fundamental failure to address one of the biggest problems facing our nation today: government spending.”

While both Sens. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican, supported the legislation, five of the seven state’s U.S. House delegation opposed it Tuesday night in the final vote that sent the bill to President Barack Obama to become law.

Reps. Rodney Alexander, a Republican, and Cedric Richmond, a Democrat, were the state’s only supporters of the legislation in the House, concerned that without it the country would slip back into a recession. Boustany and the four other House Republicans ­— Reps. Bill Cassidy, John Fleming, Jeff Landry and Steve Scalise — voted against it, slamming the idea of counting on tax increases to help rein in the federal deficit rather than spending cuts.

“President Obama promised to cut deficits in half by the end of his first term in office,” Boustany said. “With 18 days remaining in his first term, this bill adds $4 trillion in new deficit spending. Coupled with the $16 trillion national debt, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 provides a recipe for disaster.”

Boustany said “he promised to not raise taxes” and he intended to do “everything possible to keep that promise.”

But Vitter, who usually votes with Republicans, was in favor of the legislation, stating that it was a “much better tax outcome under Obama” than he would have guessed.

The deal keeps income taxes from rising on the middle class and the poor, while allowing those taxes to increase on the rich and postponing decisions on more than $100 billion in defense and domestic spending cuts. A two-year, 2-percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax was allowed to expire across the board. No decision was made on raising the federal borrowing limit to allow the country to continue paying its bills, though the debt ceiling could be reached within a few months.

“It preserves the Bush tax cuts for 99 percent of Americans, with good policy on the death tax, dividends and capital gains, so important to small business,” Vitter said in a news release. “Just as importantly, it makes it all permanent, which we could never do before. But of course we still must pass real and dramatic spending reform. For me, that’s a non-negotiable requirement of all budget or debt limit bills, due around March 1.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu touted the legislation which first passed the Senate with an 89-9 vote before going to the House.

“This legislation will protect more than 98 percent of Louisianians from an income tax increase, preserve key tax credits for 576,000 Louisiana families with children and 158,000 families to help pay for higher education, and maintain the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Landrieu said in a news release. “In addition, we worked hard to extend the estate tax in a reasonable way that protects small businesses and farmers.”

Landrieu said while the compromise did not do as much as she had hoped to reduce the deficit, she remains committed to finding “a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes both spending cuts and new revenues.”

Stocks soared Wednesday in response to avoiding the fiscal cliff — the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 308 points, or 2.4 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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