Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, the only member of Nebraska’s House delegation to vote in favor of the agreement that resolved the so-called fiscal cliff standoff, said Wednesday the next step for Congress is to “quickly address the substantial overspending problem in Washington.”
Fortenberry’s departure from the majority of his House Republican colleagues who opposed the bill prompted Americans for Limited Government to issue a statement suggesting the Lincoln congressman might be “primaried” by a conservative Republican challenger in the 2014 election.
While the legislation prevented income taxes from rising automatically for more than 98 percent of Americans, it increased the tax rate on family income higher than $450,000 per year.
In addition, Fortenberry said, “the alternative minimum tax is permanently fixed from unjustly hitting middle-class families” and the estate tax issue is settled permanently with “no impact on most small-business owners and farmers.”
But Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson said the legislation “will be raising taxes on job creators in the teeth of this recession (and) is a recipe for higher unemployment.”
“This vote is sad and may engender a primary challenge in 2014, and Rep. Fortenberry will have nobody to blame but himself,” Wilson said.
Americans for Limited Government describes itself as a national organization committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and American liberties.
Fortenberry said the legislation approved by the House on a 257-167 vote also extended the farm bill for one year, preventing milk prices from skyrocketing.
Coming legislation dealing with the debt ceiling, a continuing resolution to fund the government and revision of automatic spending cuts that would be triggered in two months “will force the president and Congress to work together to reduce the way our country spends,” Fortenberry said.
Republican Sen. Mike Johanns also voted for the fiscal cliff compromise.
“This agreement isn’t my ideal option,” Johanns said, “but I firmly believe going over the cliff isn’t an option at all.
“No one can overlook the fact that it protects an estimated 99 percent of Americans from being hit with the largest tax hike in our nation’s history.”
GOP Rep. Lee Terry of Omaha opposed the bill.
“Nothing in this deal put us on a path to fiscal responsibility or even to earnestly reduce the trillion-dollar deficit our country incurs yearly,” Terry said.
Republican Rep. Adrian Smith of Gering, who also voted “no,” said his concern is government spending.
“(I’ll) continue to fight to reduce the deficit and pass common-sense tax reform,” Smith said.
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson also supported the legislation.