Holcomb proposes legislation concerning U.S. budget


Don’t expect Alderwoman Irene Holcomb to end her nearly quarter-of-a-century of service with the Pine Bluff City Council on a quiet note.

Holcomb, the council’s senior member who was first elected as a Ward 1 representative in 1988, will conclude her reign at Monday night’s council meeting. She’ll be bidding farewell with the sponsorship of a resolution aimed at the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

In the resolution, Holcomb — the council’s first black female member — notes that “unaffordable tax cuts enacted by President Bush in 2001 and 2003” will end “at the turn of this year” and “automatic cuts in the annual budgets for domestic programs will begin to take effect.”

“These deadlines come on the heels of a two-year debate in this country over the federal budget and the role of the federal government” in creating jobs, enhancing the economy and “providing the vital public services on which ordinary families rely,” she asserted in the measure’s language. “The leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives has demanded substantial cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, putting the burden of deficit reduction onto the shoulders of middle- and lower-income families.

“Because they were willing to hold the nation’s credit worthiness hostage to their demands, the majority in the House of Representatives succeeded last year in imposing spending cuts totaling $1.7 trillion which are not only creating a drag on our economy, but also undermining the ability of local governments to meet vital needs in the communities,” the measure continues. “In particular, these cuts include a loss of millions of dollars to the people of Arkansas in funding from Community Development Block Grants and public housing programs — cuts that will harm our ability to provide needed services in our city.

“Voters made clear in this election that they want the tax system to be fairer, they want Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to be protected from spending cuts, and they want Washington to make job creation top priority,” Holcomb believes.

Holcomb wants her counterparts to utilize the resolution in urging Arkansas’ congressional delegation to support an extension “in the middle class tax cuts” while endorsing an expiration of “tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent” and to “oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.”

Holcomb said she would like Congress to “use the revenue earned by ending tax cuts for the wealthiest to restore funding for vital public services carried out by state and local governments.”

President Barack Obama is currently engaged in talks with Republican leadership on avoiding the approaching, so-called “fiscal cliff.”