Despite boasting on both sides that Congress finally made a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff, people looking for details about the deal’s ultimate outcome are going to have to wait until March. (A lot of important people had vacations ruined, so they have a stake in pretending something big got accomplished.)
There’s no way to know how bad or good a deal Democrats cut until the conflict they postponed is resolved, and we know what it takes to lift the debt ceiling, keep the government running and deal with the “sequester” – the combination of automatic spending cuts to defense and to social programs baked into the original debt ceiling deal back in August 2011.
As someone who believed, and still believes, that it was best for the country if Democrats stood up to Republican hostage takers and went over the cliff, I have to admit President Obama and his chief negotiator Vice President Joe Biden got some good things with this deal. Unemployment benefits were extended for 2 million Americans and so were tax credits that help the working and middle class. The deal also kept student-loan interest rates low. Lots of Democrats are also celebrating the fact that Republicans voted for their first tax-rate increase in 20 years. But since the White House got far less in revenue than it originally asked for, we’ll see how great a concession that turned out to be, since the deal kept tax rates low for millions of wealthy Americans, and ceded crucial hikes on estates and investment income for the super-rich.
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