A deal was reached to ameliorate the effects of the United States going over the so-called "fiscal cliff" on January 1, but few seem satisfied with the legislation.
The bill, dubbed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, initially passed through the Senate in the early hours of 2013 by an overwhelming 89-8 vote. It faced a less certain future in the House of Representatives, but the bill eventually overcame a Republican party split to successfully emerge from the lower chamber in a 257-167 vote.
Even the legislation's supporters framed it as a stopgap measure that did what was necessary to neutralize the cliff's automatic spending cuts and tax increases, which took effect on January 1, but did little more than that. "There's more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I'm willing to do it," said President Barack Obama. "But tonight's agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans."
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Act will reduce the country's deficit by $737 billion, mainly due to a tax increase on individuals earning more than $400,000 a year and households earning $450,000. While the bill also makes $107 billion worth of spending cuts, Republican leaders promised substantially greater reductions in the future, while trying to shift the blame to the White House when possible. "With the revenue piece settled, Washington must now turn to solving the rest of the fiscal cliff—the out-of-control spending that has led to record debt and deficits under President Obama," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).