Yarmuth only one in KY delegation to oppose tax cut extension bill

12/17/2010 10:30 AM

With the support of all but one of Kentucky’s delegation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed at midnight the tax compromise bill that had been brokered between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans, including Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The bill passed 277 to 148 and is expected to be signed into law by Obama on Friday. The Senate passed the measure earlier this week with votes of support by McConnell and Kentucky’s other senator, Jim Bunning.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, was the only “no” vote from Kentucky on the $858 billion bill. It extends the so-called Bush tax cuts for two years in various forms and $57 billion for the extension of unemployment insurance.

In a statement, Yarmuth blasted the deal as benefiting the wealthy too much. Many liberal Democrats, including Yarmuth, were unhappy with the bill and had tried to tweak the compromise, especially over the estate tax.

“The long-term costs of this bill are far more damaging to our nation than the short-term gains,” Yarmuth said in the statement. “Borrowing money to give tax cuts to the rich – tax cuts that are more than most families make in a year – is unconscionable. Economics shows this is a dead-end. History proves it would be disastrous. And basic morality dictates that our priorities should focus on making our economy work for everyone – not just the wealthy few.”

But the other five member’s of Kentucky’s delegation — four Republicans and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles — praised the bill as “tax cuts for all Americans” and for extending unemployment benefits, something Congressional Republicans have balked at before, but agreed to when coupled with the tax cuts.

“I believe this bill – tax cuts for all Americans – is the type of common sense stimulus that we should have passed originally rather than the failed stimulus act that has failed to stop our growing unemployment rate,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, of Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District, in a statement.

Even though the bill will cost the federal coffers an additional $858 billion, Whitfield said he looks forward to the next Congress passing “meaningful legislation that will reduce our skyrocketing deficit and spending in order to maintain lower tax rates that promote job growth and economic development.”

And while two of Whitfield’s Republican counterparts, U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie of the 2nd District and Geoff Davis of the 4th District, voted for the measure, they said the bill didn’t line up exactly with their expectations.

“While this deal is not perfect, we must continue to be focused on economic growth and I was pleased we could work together to protect Americans from the largest tax increase in history,” Guthrie said in a statement.

And Davis agreed that the legislation wasn’t “perfect.”

“Although this legislation is not perfect, this bill represents the best agreement that could be reached by Republicans and Democrats determined to avoid the shock to our economy that would come from allowing the largest tax increase in American history,” Davis said.

But Kentucky’s other Democrat representative, Ben Chandler, praised the bill as a welcome moderate compromise.

“I have supported the extension of these tax cuts for some time, and I am proud of our leaders for working together on a new bipartisan package that will aid our economy, create jobs, and help Kentucky families make ends meet,” Chandler said. “Partisan politics won’t fix our economic crisis. We all have to come together to find a moderate, common-sense solution.”

- Kenny Colston


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