Earlier today Senator John Hoeven’s office sent out a detailed explanation justifying his yes vote for the “fiscal cliff” deal. You can read the full press release here. I thought I’d respond to some of the claims the Senator is making.
First, Hoeven says he voted for it because it maintains tax relief for the 99%:
Maintains tax cuts for more than 99 percent of the American people and permanently extends current rates for most taxpayers
This is demonstrably not true. According to the Wall Street Journal, 77% of US households will see an increase in their tax burdens, with the average yearly hike being $1,635. That average figure is skewed, because to be fair these tax hikes are focused on higher-income Americans, but Hoeven claiming that 99% of Americans are getting away from this without their tax burdens increasing is simply untrue.
Second, Hoeven justifies his vote by pointing to all the spending the deal preserves:
Extends unemployment insurance for more than 1 million jobless individuals
Averts a steep decrease in the Medicare reimbursement rate for doctors to ensure seniors continue to receive quality healthcare
Unemployment benefits that have been hugely inflated under Obama and Democrats as cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates that were counted as part of the cost savings from Obamcare but, let’s face it, are never going to see the light of day.
Hoeven also brags that the sequester cuts, resulting from the debt commission deal from last year, have been delayed.
Turns off the Sequester for two months, and offsets the costs with a reduction in the discretionary spending cap for 2013 and 2014.
What’s driving the nation’s fiscal problems is spending, so bragging about all the spending cuts you helped stop isn’t exactly solving the problem. What’s more, the idea that the sequester cuts are offset by discretionary funding caps is a little ridiculous. We’re going to offset spending cuts by capping increases in new spending?
That sounds suspiciously like President Obama claiming budget savings from promising not to fight the war in Iraq any more.
In summary, it seems that what Hoeven and other Senate Republicans (with a few exceptions, notably among them Senator Marco Rubio) have done is agree to significant tax hikes in exchange for not having to cut a lot of spending.
In fact, this deal actually increases spending, adding $330 billion in spending and a projected $4 trillion to deficits over the next decade.
But hey, at least people can still get 99 weeks of unemployment!