Late last night the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s final version of the deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Incredibly, we’ve reached the point where getting House Republicans to actually do their damn job almost looks like a victory. After behaving like petulant, tea partying children to keep the legislation from passing just to avoid a small tax hike on the wealthiest folks in the US, they actually cast votes on a compromise – you know, their job as members of Congress.
Of course, House Republicans still managed to be total asses and stop a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. Seriously.
While the fiscal cliff vote happened, that doesn’t mean it was a win for those of us struggling to live in this country. The deal returns taxes on individuals making over $400,000 and couples making over $450,000 (the top 1%) to the pre-Bush eras. These tax levels were already incredibly low, though. Check out this chart from the Washington Post showing taxes on couples making over $250,000 in the past century (the dotted line at the end shows what would have happened if the deal had raised taxes on folks making over $250,000, which it failed to do):
The Washington Post article also includes a chart showing the extreme decline in the tax rate for the top 1% when taxes on investment income are taken into account, which is increasingly how the rich make their money, and which isn’t subject to personal income tax. The rich are very much still not paying their fair share.
The legislation included action on a few other items, like keeping the price of milk down and an extension to unemployment insurance. The National Journal has a breakdown of everything that was included. Tom Harkin spoke clearly about how the bill fell short, particularly in the area of employment.
What wasn’t voted on, and part of what the Republicans are so pissy about, was cuts to so-called entitlement programs. By which they mean cuts to the remaining shreds of our country’s safety net. This is just a temporary hold off – the issue was pushed back two months, when we’ll be going through this bs all over again. So your grandmother is safe from extreme cuts to her social security for now, but only temporarily. Everyone, including President Obama, is talking about cuts to the nation’s spending on health care. What we haven’t been hearing about is cuts to how much we spend on war.