Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Just before the new year came in...I heard that the nation got a late Christmas gift.....We didn't go over that darn fiscal cliff they were talking about....But was it really a gift?
The United States narrowly avoided going over the fiscal cliff early on New Year’s Day after a last-minute bipartisan agreement cleared the way for a middle-of-the-night vote in the Senate.
This interim deal would raise income taxes on single earners with annual incomes above $400,000 and married couples with incomes above $450,000. It would also block spending cuts for two months, extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevent a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevent a spike in milk prices.
It now moves to the House, where Republicans were scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. yesterday.. Republican leader Eric Cantor of Virginia told Reuters that it remained to be decided whether the House would vote on the plan. Always the kid who spoils the party...When is his term up?
This high-stakes drama was resolved after days of back and forth between Vice President Joe Biden, negotiating for Democrats, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who finally came to an agreement late Monday. He's another one who I wonder ,when is his term up? I've nicknamed him-"Dr. No."
The measure was then brought to the Senate floor where it passed by an overwhelming majority of 89-8. Senators who voted against the legislation included Republicans Marco Rubio of Fla., Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Democrat Richard Shelby of Ala.
President Obama acknowledged the difficulties the parties had coming to an agreement and pushed the House to quickly approve the bill in a statement released just after the vote.
“While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay,” the statement said. “This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way -- by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.”
You can breathe a little sigh of relief for now....but just for now...The squabbling and back biting is far from being over....I mean, it wouldn't be present day Washington if it was...
Despite the relief in Washington, D.C. over this first step, House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican congressional leaders refused to endorse the agreement.
Are you surprised?
“The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed,” Boehner and the other leaders said in a statement on Monday. “Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members -- and the American people -- have been able to review the legislation.”
In addition to the battle the legislation faces in the House, there are several other difficult issues that political leaders will be forced to revisit over the coming weeks and months, including cuts to defense and other domestic programs, and the debt ceiling, the subject of a mammoth congressional brouhaha last year.
The imposed delay would allow the White House and lawmakers time to regroup before plunging very quickly into a new round of budget brinkmanship, certain to revolve around Republican calls to rein in the cost of Medicare and other government benefit programs.
The Devil of course is in the details...The measure is the first significant bipartisan tax increase since 1990, when former President George H.W. Bush violated his "read my lips" promise on taxes. It would raise an additional $620 billion over the coming decade when compared with revenues after tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003, during the Bush administration. But because those policies expired at midnight Monday, the measure is officially scored as a whopping $3.9 trillion tax cut over the next decade.
The sweeping Senate vote exceeded expectations — tea party conservatives like Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., backed the measure — and would appear to grease enactment of the measure despite lingering questions in the House, where conservative forces sank a recent bid by Boehner to permit tax rates on incomes exceeding $1 million to go back to Clinton-era levels.
Under the Senate deal, taxes would remain steady for the middle class but rise at incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples — levels higher than Obama had campaigned for in his successful drive for a second term in office. Some liberal Democrats were disappointed that the White House did not stick to a harder line, while other Democrats sided with Republicans to force the White House to partially retreat on increases in taxes on multi-million-dollar estates. (Wonder what lobbyists has them in their pockets?)
Stay tuned...This has really just begun and it looks to get nastier as it goes on...Only your wallet will be able to tell the difference!