How state's congressional leaders voted on fiscal cliff

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 08:29 PM

When it came to the fiscal cliff bill this week, North Carolina’s 15 representatives in Washington cast eight votes for the measure and seven against.

Both senators were in favor. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, and Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, voted for the measure just after midnight on Jan. 1.

In the House vote later in the evening, Democrats G.K. Butterfield Jr. (District 1), David Price (District 4), Larry Kissell (District 8), Heath Shuler (District 11) and Mel Watt (District 12) were joined by Republican Howard Coble (District 6) voting for the bill.

Republicans Renee Elmers (District 2), Walter Jones Jr. (District 3), Virginia Foxx (District 5), Sue Myrick (District 9) and Patrick McHenry (District 10) were joined by Democrats Mike McIntyre (District 7) and Brad Miller (District 13) in voting against the measure.

The bill was signed by President Barack Obama. Among the highlights of the bill were:

• Income tax rates. Extends decade-old tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6 percent, up from the current 35 percent. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000.

• Estate tax. Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40 percent, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35 percent.

• Capital gains, dividends. Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.

• Alternative minimum tax. Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000. The tax was originally designed to ensure that the wealthy did not avoid owing taxes by using loopholes.

• Other tax changes. Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and an up-to-$2,500 tax credit for college tuition. Also extends for one year accelerated “bonus” depreciation of business investments in new property and equipment, a tax credit for research and development costs and a tax credit for renewable energy such as wind-generated electricity.

• Unemployment benefits. Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year.

• Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. Blocks a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula.

• Social Security payroll tax cut. Allows a 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2 percent.

• Across-the-board cuts. Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rule changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs.