Moments ago, the House of Representatives passed the Senate bill to avoid the "fiscal cliff". Lampooned by the President for its delays in moving forward, Congress compromised. The Washington Post opined that it was a "feeble finish" , but despite that, said "for all its weaknesses, the bill’s enactment is far better than a failure by this Congress to act before it adjourns Thursday."
Everyone wasn't happy with the compromise. "This isn't a done deal by any stretch," said Senator Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), reported the Wall Street Journal. "If this is the only choice, I will vote for it just to get something done." But he questioned the wisdom of accepting, without change, "a package put together by a bunch of sleep-deprived octogenarians on New Year's Eve."
While it may be true that President Obama "gave up a lot", as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) stated, he also voted for it to avoid the tax increases that threatened to adversely affect millions of Americans, especially low-income tax payers.
Up until yesterday, there was speculation on whether the vote would successfully avoid the fiscal cliff, MSNBC reported.
What happens now
The compromise will raise income taxes on single earners with annual incomes above $400,000 and married couples with incomes above $450,000. It will also block spending cuts for two months, extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, prevent a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevent a spike in milk prices.
While this may not be a long-term solution, it is a crucial detour off the fiscal cliff that would have increased taxes and cut spending. Economists have warned the result would have been the road back to recession.
“The American people are the real winners tonight,” Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said on the House floor, “not anyone who navigates these halls.”
Earlier, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-New Jersey), while emphatic about the need to create an environment in which businesses large and small can create jobs, he voted for the Senate bill as well, noting:
“After reading the 157 page bill and considering its effects on our community and nation, I will vote for this Compromise Agreement and work for its passage
“The bill is not perfect – compromises never are. But the compromise agreement will help the people of our country and South Jersey."
From the White House
"Happy New Year, everybody,", (C-Span) President Obama greeted Americans from the White House. He will sign the legislation, while cautioning that the economy needs to grow with "a path to pay down its debt". He added that we "cannot cut our way to prosperity".
"Everyone pays their fair share" is how our country works, President Obama posited. He addressed Republicans, stressing that "we can't not pay bills we've already incurred", since the impact would be "far worse than the fiscal cliff".
While the compromise bill avoided tax increases, vigorous debate about the deficit, particularly entitlement programs, has only been postponed. It appears unlikely this will have "less drama" or "less brinksmanship" than this fiscal cliff, as the President asked Congress, in light of the reaction of leading Republicans to the fiscal cliff and the machinations involved in sustaining it until the compromise.
House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) voted "no" and was reportedly "forceful" about not supporting the compromise. Republicans wanted cancellation of automatic spending cuts of $24 billion to be replaced with spending cuts in other areas.
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) called for Congress to be "patriotic" on behalf of the "middle class" and considers the compromise bill a "happy start".