State Republicans OK'd deal
JANESVILLE Two legislators representing Rock and Walworth counties voted with the majorities to approve the fiscal-cliff deal in Congress on Tuesday, but they weren't happy about it.
The "ayes" on Tuesday included Sen. Ron Johnson and the 1st District Rep. Paul Ryan, both Republicans.
The two Democrats representing parts of the area also voted for the bill but did not release statements and could not be reached for comment. They are Sen. Herb Kohl, who is retiring from the Senate, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin of the 2nd District, who succeeds Kohl.
Baldwin was expected to be sworn in today.
The Senate voted 89-8 for the measure. The House agreed with a vote of 257-167.
Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of the 8th District also voted for the measure.
Three other Wisconsin Republican House members—James Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri and Sean Duffy—voted against.
Political observers already were looking at Ryan's vote in light of the 2016 presidential race, noting that another oft-mentioned potential Republican candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, voted against the bill.
Ryan, who reportedly worked with House Speaker John Boehner on fiscal cliff negotiations, said in a statement that he opposes parts of the bill, but on balance he believes Americans will be better off than if the bill had not passed.
Ryan acknowledged most taxpayers' taxes would not increase as a result of the vote, but "it is unfortunate that President Obama insisted on taking more from hardworking taxpayers. Despite my concerns with other provisions in the bill, I commend my colleagues for limiting the damage as much as possible."
Ryan added: "The American people chose divided government. As elected officials, we have a duty to apply our principles to the realities of governing. And we must exercise prudence. We must weigh the benefits and the costs of action—and of inaction."
Ryan returned to familiar themes, referring to what he believes is excessive spending and debt and an impending financial disaster if nothing is done.
"We'll never get our debt under control unless we tackle its main drivers: too little economic growth and too much spending. Without presidential leadership, it will be difficult to forge bipartisan solutions to our debt and economic challenges," Ryan's statement reads.
Asked whether Ryan, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, was preparing proposals to address these issues, Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert referred to the government's budget process, which he said "typically begins with the president submitting a budget proposal to Congress, and that generally occurs in February."
Johnson said he wanted to preserve tax breaks for all taxpayers, but he said the bill "protects 99 percent of Wisconsinites from an income tax increase, limits the death tax and prevents a dramatic increase in milk prices."
Johnson continued: "The revenue raised by this legislation will equal approximately 7 percent of projected deficits. It is now time for President Obama and his Democrat colleagues to show the American public their plan to close the other 93 percent of the deficit."
Johnson said the bill will "harm economic growth, hinder new job creation and, at most, reduce our annual deficit by about 5 percent."
Johnson pledged he would not vote to increase the debt unless serious spending reductions are part of the package.