As Americans try to shake off the grogginess created from the previous night’s revelry, the Senate moved quickly to pass the so-called fiscal cliff deal. While the bill passed with an 89-8 vote, it is highly likely that it will encounter some serious hurdles in the House, as an arguably more-conservative bill championed by Speaker of the House John Boehner failed to gain traction with House conservatives last month.
The fiscal cliff deal outlines a tax increase for American families making more than $450,000- a fact that is certain to not sit well with conservative House leaders. Furthermore, the deal allows for an extension of unemployment benefits for a full year and put off for two months $100 billion in automatic spending cuts that were set to start this week.
While the initial aim of the GOP was to secure spending cuts without raising taxes, many moderates began cracking and suggesting a 1:1 ratio of raised tax revenue to spending cuts. It seems that the final product to come out from the Senate was a deal that raises $620 billion in additional tax revenue, delays automatic spending cuts, provides more spending for unemployment benefits and has a measly $15 billion in spending cuts.
Almost immediately after the bill passed in the Senate, speculation grew that it would be killed in the House. Breitbart News noted,
“In an email to reporters late Monday, [American Majority Action] spokesman Ron Meyer said he’s ‘heard directly from senior GOP conservative members in the House that Speaker Boehner does not have a majority of support from the GOP caucus–not even close.’
‘These sources tell me Boehner has indicated he won’t bring up a plan without 50% GOP support,’ Meyer said. ‘The McConnell-Biden compromise does not meet that threshold.’”
GOP lawmakers have been meeting privately to discuss the level of support for the bill. The House now has the choice of passing the bill as is- which is unlikely considering the amount of resistance from conservative leaders, reject the bill, or amend it. If the House chooses to amend it, it must sent back to the Senate where it would likely die, given the time constraints as a new Congress begins on January 3rd.
President Obama noted,
“There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it. But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans.”
However, with $620 billion in additional revenue and only $15 billion in spending cuts, the moderate GOP hope of having a 1:1 ratio of spending cuts to raised tax revenue seems to have been dashed as the ratio now stands at 41:1. This means that for every dollar cut from spending, $41 is raised in taxes.
In response to the deal, conservative Republican leader Rep. Louie Gohmert adamantly denounced the plan:
“Well, last night was the first time in my life that I have sat at my desk as we went into a new year. It gave me a chance to contemplate what we are about. We’re going into a new year as the first generation who did not ask the question, ‘What can we do, what can we sacrifice, to make future generations have a better life than we have?’ Instead we ask, ‘How much can we eek up taxes a little bit so we can keep spending at 58 cents to get a dollar’s worth of wasteful bloated government, so that our children and grandchildren can pay 42 cents of every dollar that we waste on ourselves?’ Is that any way to start the new year? We are taking up a bill that will not do anything to cut spending. I’m embarrassed for this generation. The future generations deserve better.”
Without 50% of Republican support, Boehner is likely to not bring up the plan as his Speakership is already in jeopardy from the last time he tried to force a compromised plan.
As lawmakers look to push the problems of today onto the citizens of tomorrow, Americans are waiting for real leadership to prevail. The deal is a far cry from the position GOP leaders have taken for months and does not make a dent in government spending which many cite as the main cause of our annual trillion-dollar deficits.