On Tuesday night, January 1, 2013, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas voted in favor of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, a bill that extends tax cuts for the middle class and prevents our nation from going over the so-called, "fiscal cliff."
Congresswoman Tsongas offered the following statement on the passage of the bill:
"Like most Americans, I was frustrated and disappointed that the House of Representatives waited until the last possible moment to vote on a bipartisan compromise to avoid the "fiscal cliff.' However, I believe the compromise we passed last night is a significant step in the right direction which is why I supported it. It will extend middle class tax cuts permanently, ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share and provide reassurance for the future and stability of so many American families.
"This deal was the result of bipartisan cooperation and shared concessions and it is my hope that it serves as a catalyst for further action aimed at fixing our economy.
"While this is a significant step forward, there is still much to be done to reduce our debt and deficit, grow our economy and put our country back on solid financial ground.
"I am committed to working across the aisle in the coming months to make a real down payment on our national debt. I am confident we can do so in a way that protects the vital programs that bolster so many Americans and avoids blind, sweeping cuts that could undermine our fragile economic recovery."
Here are some of the highlights of the American Taxpayer Relief Act:
· Permanently extends middle class tax cuts;
· Allows tax rates to rise from 35% to 39.6% on income over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples;
· Permanently fixes the alternative minimum tax (AMT), preventing it from hitting thousands of middle-class Massachusetts families
· Extends long-term unemployment benefits for one year;
· Extends many federal farm programs and policies, which, among other things, will prevent a sharp rise in milk prices;
· Protects family businesses and farms from the estate tax while ensuring that the wealthiest estates pay more of their fair share; and
· Postpones for two months the deep automatic cuts to programs known as "sequestration."