President Barack Obama, flanked by Joe Biden, credited congressional lawmakers last night during a press conference for their efforts this week in helping the country avoid going over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Obama thanked congressional leaders in pulling Congress together to pass the controversial tax legislation.
“Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Americans while preventing a middle class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into a recession,” said Obama. The president then thanked Vice President Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Jim Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Although the partisan showdown between Republicans and Democrats over averting the “fiscal cliff” dragged on until the end of 2012, Americans nationwide can now breathe a sigh of relief after the Republican-led House passed President Obama's Senate-approved legislation late yesterday (January 1). Looming tax increases on working Americans and huge spending cuts in government programs were thus averted.
The political theater surrounding the “fiscal cliff” – which refers the economic effects that potentially would have been brutal to the middle class – became the biggest news item since Obama's November re-election. Speaker Boehner maintained the GOP's tough stance on not raising taxes and trimming the fat on important federal programs such as long-term unemployment benefits.
Obama's tax measure was met with high approval in the Joe Biden-led Senate on Monday, lending way to speculation that Republican leaders would not risk public discord and promptly approve the measure. After the 10:45 p.m. vote yesterday, the usually vocal Boehner did not address the passing of the legislation and instead allowed House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan to speak in his favor, who called the move the “largest tax cut in American history.”
Although Obama was mostly gracious in his address last night, he spoke toughly about the debt ceiling debate saying, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills for laws they have already racked up.”
Battles within the Beltway are far from over, however, after the House decided to not to vote on an emergency disaster aid bill for residents in the Northeast ravaged by Hurricane Sandy last year reports Politico. Although House leaders and lawmakers promised to take up a vote on the bill that would have sent aid to thousands of people still feeling the effects of the storm's damage, most officials have already gone back on vacation thus putting the Senate-approved aid bill in jeopardy.