Wicker: Extend all cuts

By Bobby Harirson/NEMS Daily Journal

CLARIFICATION
– Sen. Roger Wicker’s statement in a Daily Journal editorial board interview in Friday’s edition concerning the job-killing effects of increasing taxes on high-income Americans included his concern about small-business owners who would report income above $250,000 and be affected by the tax increase. That point was not specified in Friday’s article.

TUPELO – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker says he would participate in a filibuster if Congress attempts to extend the Bush-era tax cuts without continuing them for those earning more than $250,000 annually.
President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership want to extend the tax cuts for those under that threshold but not above it.
If there is a filibuster, that would mean it would require a 60-vote super majority to extend the tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. At least three Democratic senators have agreed with the Republican position that all the tax cuts should be extended.
Wicker, a Republican from Tupelo, said it is important to extend the tax cuts for wealthier Americans – especially in the current sluggish economic environment – because returning to the tax rates of the 1990s for the wealthy would be a jobs killer.
“I would be one of those senators to require 60 votes to require an automatic tax increase on job creators to go into effect,” Wicker said Thursday during an interview with the Daily Journal editorial board where a number of topics were discussed. “We would fight that.”
While the first-term U.S. senator said the nation’s growing deficit must be curtailed – he said most Americans are “aghast” at the level of spending in Washington – he discounted any effort to allow the tax cuts to expire as a way to shrink that deficit.
“I would contend tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 added economic stimulation and actually generated revenue,” Wicker said of the Bush-era program.
Despite being fearful about the deficit, Wicker said he was prepared to vote for a stimulus package in 2009 if it had been structured differently than the controversial one passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress.
“I was prepared in January 2009 to come to Washington … take the oath and vote for an economic stimulus bill that involved infrastructure spending,” he said. “There was all this talk about shovel-ready projects … I wanted us to take a substantial amount of money and build some things.”
He added, “I think we could have done an infrastructure stimulus bill with 75-80 votes. There is hardly any infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill.”
Wicker discounted two key aspects of the original $870 billion stimulus bill. He said most of the spending left nothing to show for it – either in infrastructure or reduced unemployment – and the tax cut portion, which represented about one-third of the total package and reduces taxes $800 for a married couple earning up to $150,000, was not significant enough to have an economic impact.
He also said he was against a substantial portion of the package that provides help to the states to prevent the layoff of teachers, to help the states with Medicaid programs and to provide other relief to cash-strapped states.
Wicker also voted against a follow-up stimulus bill last week that provides additional help to keep teachers from being laid off.
“To say because the federal government has a printing press it should print up more money and send it to the states is bad public policy,” he said. “This stimulus II is basically … an extension of some programs I voted against in the first place.”
On local issues, Wicker said if state Sen. Gray Tollison, D-Oxford, is indeed nominated by Obama as U.S. attorney for the Northern District as it has been reported, that “would be a very popular choice. Officially, I have not heard that … but he would be a popular and competent choice.”
Wicker lamented the length of time the Obama administration has taken in filling positions in Mississippi, such as U.S. attorney slots and vacant federal judicial posts.
He said he supports Jackson attorney Carlton Reeves for a federal judicial post in the Southern District of Mississippi and supports another Obama nominee, current state Supreme Court Justice James Graves, for a post on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.