Sen. Rockefeller champions fiscal cliff tax cut extensions
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fiscal cliff legislation passed by Congress at 2:30 a.m. on New Year's Day will continue tax cuts and benefits for 99.7 percent of West Virginia's families, Sen. Jay Rockefeller said.
"If Congress had failed to pass this bill, tax credits that help low- and middle-income West Virginia families pay their bills and afford college would have disappeared," Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a statement released Thursday morning.
"I refused to let that happen, despite warped efforts by House Republicans to place more of the burden on those already hurting."
Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick J. Rahall, both D-W.Va., also voted for the legislation, while Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, both R-W.Va., voted against it.
Rockefeller believes the legislation passed on Tuesday will help narrow the income gap "between the very wealthy and those who work but struggle every day, especially in a tough economy."
Under the legislation, only individuals who make more than $400,000 a year, and families that make more than $450,000, will see their tax rates return to the higher rates assessed when Bill Clinton was president.
The new legislation did not continue the payroll tax cut passed in 2010 that reduced Social Security taxes from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.
Rockefeller believes the payroll tax cut "should have continued temporarily in a way that still protected Social Security.
"But, even without the payroll tax cut,' he said, "this bill significantly benefits West Virginians, and the net total puts more money in West Virginians' pockets."
The new legislation also keeps several tax credits and advantages in place, which would have disappeared on New Year's Day if the legislation had not passed.
Tax cuts for individuals and families, re-enacted for five years, include:
Tax cuts for economic development, coal mine safety and school construction in the fiscal cliff legislation include:
Rockefeller wrote the legislation creating the NMTC in 2006 and fought successfully to expand it under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.
Rockefeller also mentioned:
Today, West Virginia is the country's second largest producer of railroad ties. This tax credit is especially helpful to rural areas where short-line railroads are often the only transportation available to help companies ship their products.
In addition to these tax credits, Rockefeller pointed out, the legislation also continued unemployment benefits for about 10,000 West Virginians actively looking for jobs.
There are another 29,000 unemployed West Virginians receiving state benefits who could receive federal unemployment benefits until the end of 2013, if they are needed.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at email@example.com or 304-348-5164.