The deal that emerged from the Senate early Tuesday morning is being sold as a tax cut for the middle class, but the expiration of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday means that working Americans’ take-home pay will drop. The bill reduces the value of tax deductions for upper incomes and, with the new open-ended 3.8% Medicare tax that was enacted under ObamaCare, income-tax rates on families and small business owners earning over $450,000 have been pushed above 44%.
The Senate bill makes the tax code more complex, provides for no spending cuts and creates four deadlines—for the debt-limit increase within weeks, the March 1 automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, a second sequester on March 27 (to make up for overspending since the first sequester) and the March 30 expiration of government spending authority. These deadlines will keep Washington negotiations on the front page for months but with little likelihood that government will cut programs, sell assets or downsize the 1,300 federal agencies and commissions.
No wonder many House Republicans balked at what was presented. The New Year’s Day legislation is breathtaking in its largess.