US veers away from fiscal cliff as House passes emergency bill

Photo courtesy Roger Sayles.

Photo courtesy Roger Sayles.

By Andrew Scoggin

Happy new year, America. Turns out your Congress is good for something.

The House elected not to send the country plummeting over the fiscal cliff late Tuesday night, instead passing a Senate bill to prevent substantive tax increases and mandatory spending cuts.

The bill passed the House on a 257 to 167 vote, and it’s a safe assumption President Barack Obama will sign it very soon.

Seemingly House Republicans weren’t terribly happy with the Senate bill (passed on an 89 to 8 vote early Tuesday), but dropped their qualms in the face of taking the blame for gumming up the process.

Now technically the U.S. did “go over” the cliff, but nothing much happened today being a national holiday (ed note: Aside from Northwestern’s bowl win. Yesssssssss.) Financial markets, set to reopen Wednesday, likely would not have taken kindly to any time without a deal.

I won’t get into specifics here (The New York Times does a much better job of that than I could), but here are the main takeaways of the agreement:

  1. Tax rates will stay the same for individuals making $400,000, or couples making $450,000. Above that goes from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The payroll tax cut, however, will go away.
  2. Unemployment insurance and Medicare avoid the axe. Milk cliff avoided.
  3. Automatic cuts delayed by two months. THIS IS IMPORTANT. It’ll probably come up again. Just a guess.
  4. Nothing on the debt ceiling. The Times says “Treasury will not be able to pay all of its bills” if no action by late February or early March.

A deal finally got done, so kudos to our legislators (and aides) for working tireless, if unnecessary hours. If the first day is any indication, 2013 might bring a much more productive Congress.

Then again, that’s probably way, way too optimistic. They’re probably just ready to go home.

Now about that NHL lockout

Posted by on January 1, 2013. Filed under Elections,National Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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