Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a deal to avert the fiscal cliff in the middle of the night on New Year's Eve. The deal was then quickly rushed through the U.S. Senate while most people were asleep. On New Year's Day the main flaw in the deal quickly became apparent: it failed to address out-of-control spending.
The deal did include a promise to look at spending cuts at some indefinite point in the future. Increasing taxes today while putting off spending cuts until later is a tactic Washington has used for decades. Unfortunately, those spending cuts never materialize.
At a time when we are adding 4 billion dollars in debt every day, spending must be cut and tough choices must be made. Medicare and Social Security will go broke if we do not act to save them for this generation and generations to come. Welfare spending has grown to over $1 trillion annually. Poorly designed programs that encourage abuse and dependency need to be reformed to ensure aid is going to those who truly need it. We need to get the economy growing again so fewer people will be forced to rely on government assistance.
The best thing that can be said about the fiscal cliff deal is it makes permanent most of the tax cuts put in place back in 2001 and 2003. However, it is misleading to say that this bill protected the middle class from a tax increase. If you have a job, your next paycheck will be smaller than your last because the fiscal cliff deal included allowing payroll taxes to go back up to 6.2%. Comprehensive tax reform making the tax code simpler, fairer, and encouraging to economic growth is still needed.
This vote was a tough choice, and we will have many more in the future. As we face these choices, the American people deserve solutions to our problems, not deals that avoid them.
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