New Castle News

January 3, 2013

State leaders unite to back fiscal package

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly voted in favor of the fiscal cliff agreement Tuesday.

However, incoming freshman congressman Keith Rothfus said he isn’t sure how he would have voted on the measure.

The entire Pennsylvania House delegation, which includes 12 Republicans and seven Democrats, voted in favor of the agreement.

The state’s two U.S. Senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey, also voted for the legislation, which President Obama said he will sign.

Kelly, a Republican from Butler, is beginning his second term representing the 3rd District, which takes in approximately three-fourths of Lawrence County. Rothfus, a Republican from Sewickley, was elected in November to represent the 12th District, which covers the southern part of the county.

Both men, as well as all other House members, will be sworn into office at noon Thursday.

In a written statement, Kelly said he voted to make permanent tax rates “that conservatives crafted years ago for more than 99.3 percent of Americans, including a permanent patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax, and to keep many good items in the tax code like the child tax credit.

“We are finally providing some certainty to the economy with regards to taxes which is why, in the end, I voted affirmatively for the agreement.”

Kelly said the bill “is far from perfect,” and added Congress must now turn its attention to doing “real spending and tax reform” that is necessary to restore the country’s fiscal health.

While on his way to Washington Wednesday, Rothfus said, “I would have leaned in favor of voting for it.”

However, when asked whether he is certain how he would have voted, he answered, “Frankly, no.”

Rothfus said one of his concerns is that the legislation “does nothing for the spending crisis we have.”

“We still have a trillion-dollar deficit.”

The president, he said, got the tax increase he wanted, but the increase “is going to do nothing to grow the economy.”

Rothfus noted that as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011 spending was to have been cut.

By not making the cuts, he said, “We’re even further behind the spending problem.”