Lazy Congress Reaches Fiscal Cliff “Deal”
Matt | On 02, Jan 2013
The American people were able to experience almost a full day of living life over the “fiscal cliff.” Then Congress came in and passed a piecemeal deal to stop them from total asses of themselves.
On Tuesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill by a margin of 257-167 to keep the country from going further off the fiscal cliff. It was a deal of cuts and revenue raisers designed to address the country’s growing debt. The bill was passed in the Senate earlier and sent to the House for the final say. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was able to strike a deal that didn’t win broad support from his party, but that got enough Democratic and GOP votes for passage.
Yesterday’s bill will see President Obama’s signature sometime in the next few days.
If the bill had not passed, then automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases, known as the sequester, would have gone into effect. The Bush tax cuts would have disappeared completely. This could have pushed unemployment higher and the country may have seen a recession again.
So, what’s in the fiscal cliff deal? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few items of note, as outlined by CNN:
- Individuals earning less than $400,000 a year ($450,000 a year for couples) will see a tax cut. Those making more will see their taxes go up from 35 to 39.6 percent.
- Itemized deductions will top out at those making $250,000 and $300,000 for couples.
- Unemployment insurance has been extended for another year for two million people.
- The alternative minimum tax has been permanently adjusted for inflation.
- Inherited estates will receive a 40 percent tax, up from 35 percent.
- Credits for child care, tuition, and research and development will be renewed.
- Doctors taking Medicare patients will still receive reimbursements.
- The nation hit its debt ceiling on January 1. Another deal to raise the ceiling will need to be worked out by the end of February.
- The payroll tax holiday started in 2011 has expired. This means that many Americans will see slightly less money in their paychecks soon. (This particular point is receiving a lot of online chatter).
- The sequester will have to be addressed by late February as well.
In a nutshell, Congress has a mountain of work to address in the new year. The 113th Congress will be sworn in on Thursday and they need to immediately get to work for the American people.
I’ll tell you this. The fact that Congress continues to wait until the last minute and beyond to come to these “deals” is getting old quickly with the American people. There is absolutely no reason, other than super-sized egos, that held up progress.