And so my fellow Americans, we finally cross the fiscal cliff finish line, panting wearily with our shorts around our ankles. Late last night Congress passed the Senate's budget deal. Our middle-class tax cuts have been preserved. We will tax the rich a little bit more. And tomorrow the sun will come up same as always.
Okay, so now that the dust has settled, what have our elected officials agreed to, exactly? And which can did we just kick down the road? Here's the big picture.
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- It's called the fiscal cliff "bridge," and it was largely worked out by Vice President Biden and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
- The bridge extends tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. That means all of us with an annual household income under $450,000 for couples or individual income under $400,000.
- Some unemployment benefits extended.
- Stimulus tax credits for college tuition extended for five years.
- Doctors who provide care for Medicare patients won't get a pay cut.
- The bill adjusts the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation.
- The bill raises the Estate Tax on estates worth over $5 million to 40 percent.
- The bill is expected to raise $600 billion in NEW revenue over 10 years.
- Across-the-board cuts to entitlement programs worth $1.2 trillion are postponed until March 1.
- The bridge is just the first stage of a full deal. By that March 1 deadline, we'll have to deal with entitlement reform, tax reform, and spending cuts.
And that's where we are. In other news, perhaps sensing our exasperation with the job they're doing, Congress voted down a raise for itself as part of the deal. But they also failed to pass the Sandy Aid bill. GUYS! What a bunch of drama queens. Here's a little comic relief for the day.
Are you surprised the bill was passed or did you think they'd agree to something by the deadline?
Image via Medilldc/Flickr