The "Fiscal Cliff" Is Behind Us, But Much Is Left to Do

January 15, 2013
Dear Friends,

Nearly all Americans breathed a sigh of relief when a bipartisan solution for the so-called “fiscal cliff” finally came to pass in the last few hours of New Year’s Day. While far from a perfect bill, I supported the American Taxpayer Relief Act because it extends middle class tax cuts and increases revenue by allowing cuts for the wealthy to expire. It also delayed for two months the severe impact that sequestration would have on critical government programs which threatened to stall our recovering economy.

I have always believed that any responsible budget agreement must include a strategy for maintaining economic recovery and fostering long term growth. This legislation accomplishes that goal through a combination of tax rate adjustments while also ensuring that we can continue to make investments in education, clean energy and manufacturing that will create jobs and strengthen the middle class.

While this bill was an important step forward, many tough choices were deferred, leaving us with much to accomplish in the coming months. In the new Congress, we must not only find a lasting solution to the reckless sequestration cuts, but also tackle the looming issue of raising the country’s debt limit. In 2011, I believe House Republicans were willing to risk default on the federal debt during negotiations to raise the country’s debt ceiling, which led to our nation’s first credit downgrade and a one-sided deal that did little to secure our nation’s future. We should not negotiate about whether or not the federal government can pay our country’s bills on time. Congress must act quickly and thoughtfully to raise the current limit and avoid another irresponsible showdown.

In finding a solution to permanently dispense with the sequestration cuts, we must commit to policies that will create jobs and spur economic growth to put our nation on a more secure fiscal path. I recognize that we are in a time of austerity and that we will have to make difficult choices between competing priorities, but we must be careful not to compromise the core values that have sustained American progress over the course of our history.

Our long-term economic security will come from advancing strategies that invest in our infrastructure, reinvigorate our manufacturing sector, and increase our exports to world markets. In the coming months, I will work hard to forge an agreement that maintains our principles as a nation and puts us on a path toward long-term economic recovery and growth. Please tell me about your budget priorities by filling out this online survey. I will be sure to keep your views in mind as we begin the 113th Congress.

Congressman John P. Sarbanes
Maryland's Third Congressional District
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