Taxpayers Say ‘Cliff’ Deal Doesn’t Go Far Enough to Boost Economy, Reduce Debt

BY Cassie M. Chew and Sarah McHaney  January 4, 2013 at 2:32 PM EDT



After a protracted battle that culminated in dramatic votes in the wee hours of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the White House and Congress finally agreed upon a deal that kept the country from falling over the the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

On New Year’s Day, Congress agreed to a plan that restores the highest tax bracket to 39.6 percent for individuals earning more than $400,000 annually, restores the payroll tax, which supports Social Security and Medicare programs, to 6.2 percent and delays by two months legislation that requires automatic, across-the-board spending cuts on the country’s domestic and defense budgets.

Instead of creating a “grand bargain” in which increased revenues would match spending cuts dollar-for-dollar toward reducing the federal deficit by as much as $4 trillion over the next decade, the plan raises about $600 billion in additional tax revenue. The measure would tack on an additional $4 trillion in debt by 2022, says an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.

The day after the deal was approved, the NewsHour asked taxpayers to weigh in.

Several said they find the plan lackluster.

“You would think there would be a better deal considering the amount of time they had as opposed to a last minute thing that really doesn’t get the job done in terms of fiscal responsibility,” said Torrey Lee, a Washington resident who has worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant.

Others didn’t like that the dealmaking came down to a handful of lawmakers.

“I think even today we really don’t know in detail what was included because many aspects haven’t been publicly discussed,” said Astrid Joehnk, a Washington resident who works in broadcasting.

Despite the process and outcome, some of the measures pleased taxpayers.

Washington resident Carey Rivers said she is pleased that unemployment will be extended a year for those who are out of work for at least six months.

“So there are features in it that are good, but it seems like such a tiny little effort given all the problems that we have,” Carey said.

President Obama signed the measure Wednesday while vacationing in Hawaii via “autopen,” a technology that copies a user’s pen strokes, stores them in memory and later replicates them without the user being present, the White House told the press pool.