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Georgia lawmakers split on 'fiscal cliff' bill, agree on spending cuts
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Georgia members of Congress faced a difficult decision Tuesday on whether to support legislation that adverted the “fiscal cliff,” but did little to reduce spending. Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson voted yes, while U.S. Rep. Tom Graves voted no.

A spokeswoman for Rep.-elect Doug Collins of the newly drawn 9th District said he would have opposed the bill and points out it increases the nation’s deficit, the difference in the amount of money the government spends versus what it collects. The new congressman is scheduled to be sworn in today.

“Congressman-elect Collins believes the best way to get ahold of our financial crisis is through significant cuts and reform to the way Washington manages its checkbook,” said Loree Anne Thompson, his communications director.

The legislation raised tax rates for individuals who earn more than $400,000 a year or couples who make more than $450,000. It didn’t renew the payroll tax holiday that reduced every workers’ Social Security contribution by 2 percent and pushed $1.2 trillion in budget cuts down the road by two months.

Isakson said on his website that he voted for the deal because it protected 99 percent of Americans from a tax increase, but it’s time to get serious about spending cuts.

“...I look forward to enacting significant measures in the coming weeks that will reduce our debt,” his statement said.

While both senators criticized the bill they approved because it lacked cuts or entitlement reform, Graves described the bill as a “bailout of Washington.” Graves represented the 9th District until today when he begins representing the new 14th District.

What began as an effort to address our nation’s debt crisis, he said in a statement, has been twisted by President Barack Obama into a mandate to raise taxes.

“If Congress does not work with more conviction to solve the spending problem, we may soon realize we’re already over the cliff and in a fiscal free fall,” Graves said.

The 113th Congress, which begins this afternoon, has about two months to address the debt ceiling and the postponed budget cuts.  Decisions on both are due by the end of February or the country could again face serious fiscal consequences.

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