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Senate votes to increase taxes

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“One thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there’s even one second left before you have to do what you’re supposed to do, they will use that last second,” he said during a ribbing that irked many lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill.

Obama said he had hoped for a larger deal that included tax increases and spending reductions, but then he blamed Congress for a failure to fashion such a comprehensive deal: “With this Congress, that was obviously a little too much to hope for at this time.”

Those gathered at the White House laughed. But Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been skeptical of Obama’s desire to tackle spending.

Obama and congressional lawmakers will soon get a chance to act on their spending-cut promises. Congress is set to hold a series of fiscal battles in the coming months. Democrats will again ask for an increase in the debt ceiling while Republicans will seek matching spending cuts. It will also include another government shutdown fight like the one that took place in the summer of 2011. And in March lawmakers will face the newly set cliff for the scheduled spending cuts to the Defense Department and other parts of government. The initial fiscal cliff included an 18-month timetable for negotiations, and all that led to was a tax hike and a new cliff on spending cuts set just eight weeks from now.

The New Year began with a tax increase for top earners, but that deal has paved the way for a series of tough budget votes in 2013. But one budget issue has been resolved: the tax hike deal cancels a set pay raise for members of Congress. That is at least one portion of the deal that every American will likely applaud.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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