Statement of Mayor Paul Soglin on the Looming "Fiscal Cliff"

November 16, 2012

I join with my colleague Mayors and with civic leaders, small businesses, and CEOs across the country to express concern about the looming 'fiscal cliff' that threatens to put the United States back on the path to another recession. The 'fiscal cliff' is a combination of tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts set to take place at the end of the year that will affect every American, unless Congress acts to prevent them. These include expiration of the "Bush tax cuts," the across-the-board cuts to Federal agencies known as "sequestration," and running out of necessary federal spending authority by hitting the "debt ceiling."

I am pleased that the President is reaching out to Republicans, urging Congress to compromise and build consensus to tackle the challenges we face at the end of the year and keep our economy moving forward. His plan preserves investments in our roads, bridges, and water infrastructure that we need to grow our economy and the middle class while asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

If Congress fails to come to an agreement on an overall deficit reduction package by the end of the year, everybody?s taxes will automatically go up - including the 98 percent of American households who make less than $250,000 a year. Right now, there is a bill in the House that ensures that this does not happen, and protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses from seeing their taxes go up at the end of the year. The Senate has already passed this bill; it is time the House does the same. This is one-step we could take that would give millions of families and small businesses a sense of certainty as we head into the new year.

Sequestration, the across-the-board cuts to most federal agencies set to begin next year, would have a significant impact on local communities. The 8.2 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending directly affects programs that communities rely on, such as: the Community Development Block Grant, Homeless Assistance Grants, Rental Assistance Programs, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, highways, transit systems and bridges, and FEMA local grants that help prepare our communities for unpredictable disasters, to name just a few. Keep in mind, that if the federal government cuts funding to local municipalities, it will be Madison taxpayers who will pay for the services with additional local taxes. Cuts to funding for things like SAFER grants could potentially compromise public safety in Madison. By extension, those cuts could compromise the economic vitality that is fostered by safe and healthy communities.

I urge Congress to stop these devastating cuts from taking place, and to put in place a long-term deficit reduction plan that protects the middle-class and our cities.

Contact:
  • Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611