America went over the so-called fiscal cliff with the arrival of Jan. 1, but disastrous consequences likely will be averted when the U.S. House signs off on a BIPARTISAN DEAL reached in the wee hours today in the Senate:
The measure, which would raise tax rates for families making more than $450,000 and delay deep across-the-board spending cuts for two months, cleared the Senate by an overwhelming 89-8shortly after 2 a.m. The Republican-controlled House could take up the pact in a rare New Year’s Day session, though the timing of that chamber’s vote was not clear.
The $620 billion agreement was a major breakthrough in a partisan standoff that has dragged on for months, spooking Wall Street and threatening to hobble the economic recovery. It turned back the GOP’s two-decade-long refusal to raise tax rates, delivering a major win for the president.
The bill also canceled pay raises for members of Congress and averted an expected hike in the price of milk by extending expiring dairy policy.
But as big a deal as it was, it did little to address the nation’s long-term deficit problem — there’s nothing in it to pare back entitlement spending — or to defuse a potential crisis over raising the debt ceiling that could come as early as February.
The legislation now moves to the House, where Speaker John Boehner has vowed to give any accord passed by the Senate its time on the House floor. GOP aides said a wide bipartisan vote would ease the bill’s passage through the House, but hurdles still remain. It remains to be seen whether House Republicans try to amend the package — a tactic that would surely sink the deal.
My view is that Boehner wouldn’t dare to preside over a sinking of the deal. He’ll wangle enough Republican votes — 30 or so, if not more — to ratify the Senate bill.