Nunnelee’s statement comes as Republican and Democratic congressional leaders seek an agreement to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” If neither side takes action, significant tax increases and government spending cuts will automatically take effect on Jan. 1.
Both sides have been negotiating over increases or cuts that would be more palatable. President Barack Obama originally advocated for a tax increase for families making more than $250,000 – along with spending cuts – but has indicated he was willing to compromise up to $400,000.
On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had tried to get the House to vote on a Plan B that would only raise taxes for those who earn more than $1 million, but later said he could not get enough Republicans to support the concept.
“The House of Representatives again made it clear we are not in favor of raising anybody’s taxes,” Nunnelee said in his statement. “We know that our debt problem comes from too much spending, not because taxes are too low. Increasing taxes will also hammer our already weak economic recovery. Taking money from the people that earned it to give to wasteful government spending is the last thing we need to do.”
Nunnelee, who had elective heart surgery Dec. 10, has said he would be available to vote on any “fiscal cliff” issues that come before the House. He was in D.C. on Thursday night and prepared to vote.
He noted that everyone’s taxes will increase if no action is taken.
“The only way to stop taxes from going up is to pass new legislation,” he said. “The point of Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B’ was to save as many taxpayers as possible from a devastating tax increase.”
Nunnelee did not directly indicate in the statement released from his office how he would have voted on Boehner’s plan had it come to a vote.
Spending cuts to most government programs, known as sequestration, also would occur if no plan is reached by the year’s end.
“If it were up to me to design a spending cut plan, sequestration would not be the way I would do it because not all government spending is equally useful,” he said. “However, one thing that would definitely be worse than the sequester cuts would be no cuts at all.
“Spending is the reason we are $16 trillion in debt. Spending must be cut, and if this is the only way we can do it this year, then that is the way we will cut.”