“Fiscal Cliff” Averted with Passage of American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012


The House of Representatives approved a deal to avert the fiscal cliff on Tuesday night, by a final vote of 257 to 167. The bill, which already has Senate approval, now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The near term threat of the “United States falling of a fiscal cliff” has been eliminated with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The House passed the bill without amendments by a margin of 257–167 around 11 p.m. EST on January 1, 2013.

The bill would delay the budget sequestration by two months, and includes $600 billion over ten years in new tax revenue relative to extending 2012 levels, which is about one-fifth of the revenue that would have been raised had no legislation been passed. The revenue would come from increased marginal income and capital gains tax rates relative to their 2012 levels for annual income over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples; a phase-out of certain tax deductions and credits for those with incomes over $250,000 for individuals and $300,000 for couples, an increase in estate taxes relative to 2012 levels on estates over $5 million, and expiration of the two-year-old cut to payroll taxes, which is applied to income under the Social Security Wage Base, which was $110,100 in 2012.

Minutes later, the President Barack Obama flew back to Hawaii to rejoin his family for their holiday vacation, which had been interrupted when he came back to Washington days earlier to oversee the fiscal cliff negotiations. The details of how he will be signing the bill are unclear. The bill could be delivered to him, or an autopen could be used. An autopen is a machine that simulates the signature with a pen like a player piano plays music. President Barack Obama became the first president to use an autopen to sign a bill into law On May 26, 2011. At that time he signed into law an extension of three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

The House adjourned without taking up legislation for aid for Hurricane Superstorm Sandy. New York and New Jersey lawmakers went to the House floor Tuesday night denouncing the Republican leadership, in particular the speaker.

House members from both parties expressed outrage Tuesday night, when they were informed that Speaker John Boehner decided to abandon a vote on aid for Superstorm Sandy victims this session. An aid bill has already passed the Senate.

President Obama is praising the bill that staves off the fiscal cliff tax hikes and spending cuts. The House of Representatives followed the Senate’s lead, and passed the bill late Tuesday.

President Obama is returning to Hawaii to resume his vacation. The President left the White House after the House of Representatives approved the deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

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