Capping weeks of intense negotiations between the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders to avert the fiscal cliff, the House of Representatives late on the night of Jan. 1 passed HR 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, on vote of 257-167. The Act was passed by the Senate, 89-8, in a similar late night vote on Dec. 31, so it now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The Act is not a “grand bargain” or a comprehensive solution: sequestration—the automatic spending cuts Congress imposed on itself--has been postponed for only two months to give time for further negotiations. The Act allows federal tax rates to rise on those making over $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples) but also limits the impact of the Alternative Minimum Tax on 4 million taxpayers. The Act also includes a one-year extension of emergency unemployment benefits and a one-year extension of provisions to prevent doctors' payments from Medicare from being cut.
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