cliff averted... mid fall

congressional seal

Well, Congress did it... in mid-fall our lawmakers managed to broker a deal and leverage a vote all to keep the United States from hitting the bottom.

It all came out of a late night deal between Vice President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Well after midnight on New Year's Day the deal passed the Senate with amazing bipartisan support (89-8). The bill was then sent to the House where it was received without great fanfare. In spite of opposition, the House passed the deal with less than overwhelming support from the Republican Caucus (257-157), pulling the U.S. back from its tumult.

So, what's in the Biden-McConnell Plan? Here are a few highlights

  • Tax rates are maintained for individuals earning $400,000 and couples earning $450,000 per year. Taxes for earnings over those amounts increase from 35% to 39.6%.
  • Five-year extension of certain tax credits including the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and credits for college tuition.
  • Permanently increases dividend and capital gains tax rates to 20 percent from 15 percent for single people with income over $400,000 and couples over $450,000.
  • Prevents a 27 percent reduction in payments to Medicare providers for one year.
  • Extends unemployment benefits for one year.
  • Extends the current farm bill for nine months.
  • Allows payroll taxes to rise on Tuesday to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent.
  • A two-month pause on automatic spending cuts.

The 112th Congress will end today, January 2, at noon eastern time. Though this Congress averted the cliff they are leaving a mountain of work to the 113th which will be sworn in tomorrow, January 3. This mountain includes the debt ceiling, a permanent solution to the extended farm bill, the now postponed sequestration, and long-term spending solutions. What a welcoming gift.

And how did Oklahoma's delegation vote?
In the House...
- District 1 John Sullivan -- Yes
- District 2 Dan Boren -- Yes
- District 3 Frank Lucas -- Yes
- Distrcit 4 Tom Cole -- Yes
- Distrcit 5 James Lankford -- No

In the Senate...
- Senator James Inhofe --Yes
- Senator Tom Coburn -- Yes

Words have been flying amongst members of Congress, many of which should not be repeated in mixed company. However, here are 2 favorite quotes from the past 48 hours...
from Steve LaTourette (R-OH) on the late night/early morning deal passed by the Senate, "We should not take a package put together by a bunch of sleep-deprived octogenarians on New Year's Eve."

from Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) on Speaker Boehner's decision to call a straight up or down vote, "They're crazy but they're not that batsh*! crazy"