House passes tax cut bill, Obama expected to sign
The House of Representatives passed an extensive tax cut and unemployment bill late last night, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama to be signed. The $801 billion in tax cuts and $57 billion in extended unemployment benefits is indicative of the growing concern that the fledgling economy has yet to recover, The New York Times reports.
The legislation passed 277 to 148 despite heavy criticism by liberal democrats that the provisions in the law were too lenient on the wealthiest of Americans. The bill also faced opposition from Republicans who took issue with the fact that there was too much spending.
One of the key areas of contention was the language that extended the Bush-era tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year for two years. Obama had campaigned on only extending the tax-cuts for the middle class, but he needed to strike a compromise with Republicans to extend unemployment benefits as well.
Although there were some who derided the president, others called the bill a significant bi-partisan achievement in an especially volatile political climate. Still, there are some Republicans who are disappointed that the tax cuts did not become permanent.
"Republicans are talking a lot about certainty," Matthew Mitchell, a tax policy expert at George Mason University, told the Times. "But even if they had won some sort of a victory where they got the current tax rates written in stone, spending is on such an unsustainable path in terms of entitlements, it really isn't certain at all."
Some of the most vocal critics claim that such a bill is irresponsible when the deficit is at record levels. House Democrats also abandoned a $1.2 trillion spending bill to finance the federal government Thursday night after it was slowed by Republicans.