Tag Archive | "Fiscal Cliff"

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Larson to Hold Town Hall Meeting on Tax Deal

HARTFORD – Still wondering what in the world is in that compromised bill that was passed by the Republican-controlled house on Jan. 1?

Well,  First district Congressman John B. Larson (D-Conn.) will host a live telephone town hall meeting  tonight to discuss the approved package and answer questions you may have.

Larson said the bipartisan package will “help our nation avoid the fiscal cliff.”

He will explain various details of the agreement and take questions from callers throughout the discussion.

All are invited to participate.

To participate dial 877-229-8493 at 5:00 p.m. tonight, and when prompted enter the code 16167.

Who: Congressman John B. Larson

What: Live Telephone Town Hall on Bipartisan Tax Agreement to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

When: January 2, 2013, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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With New Year’s Votes, Congress Steers Nation from the Fiscal Cliff

By Ana Radelat

WASHINGTON — The House approved an agreement late Tuesday that avoided a “fiscal cliff” — the coupling of sharp tax increases on nearly all Americans with automatic spending cuts set to go into effect Wednesday.

All Connecticut House members voted for the deal except Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, who said the bill failed to raise taxes on families earning between $250,000 and $450,000 a year.

In addition, DeLauro said, “This legislation fails to address the expiring payroll tax cut, meaning that millions of middle class families will see as much as a $2,200 tax increase, beginning with less take home pay in their next paycheck. This is regrettable.”

Bush-era tax cuts that have lowered the tax rate on all Americans for years expired at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Congress’ approval of the fiscal cliff deal will retroactively reinstate most of those cuts, except for households earning $450,000 or more; these will see their tax rate rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

The agreement also postponed a series of automatic cuts to federal programs, half of which were to the Pentagon, that were scheduled to take place Jan. 2. The deal allows Congress two months to find targeted savings.

Many lawmakers voted for the compromise grudgingly.

“This is an ugly package, but it’s the right thing to do for the economy,” said Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5thDistrict. “This is a tough vote, but we got elected to make tough votes.”

Murphy will be sworn in to the Senate Thursday, when the 113th Congress gavels in.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said he was persuaded by Vice President Joe Biden to support the plan.

“He was extremely persuasive talking about this, [saying it] was as good as you could get given the time constraints,” Courtney said.

Courtney also said the vice president, who negotiated the deal with Senate GOP leaders, “did a good job” shielding Medicare and other federal programs from cuts.

The Senate approved the compromise early Tuesday on a 89-8 vote, with the support of Connecticut’s senators.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said, “I’m frustrated and unhappy that we couldn’t reach a better solution much sooner, but this deal is better than no deal at all.”

The fiscal cliff agreement now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The deal would exempt from federal taxes estates worth up to $5 million for an individual and $10 million per couple, rising to $15 million after a number of years, but it would tax estates larger than that at a 40 percent rate. The rate now is 35 percent.

The proposal would also raise the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 20 percent and cap deductions for high-income taxpayers, those earning $400,000 or more a year.

Other details of the agreement include:

* A permanent fix to the formula for the Alternative Minimum Tax so middle class families would not be hit by a levy that was created to make sure the wealthy did not avoid federal taxes;

* A so-called “doc fix” that adjusts the payments doctors receive for treating Medicare patients to adjust for inflation;

* An extension of tuition tax credits and child tax credits;

* An extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term jobless who would have stopped receiving checks this week.

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State’s Unemployed Will be First to Feel Fall Over the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

By Ana Radelat

WASHINGTON — Eventually, nearly every American will feel the economic pain brought on by going over the so-called fiscal cliff, but more than 43,000 unemployed Connecticut workers would be among the first.

That’s because those long-time unemployed workers will stop receiving benefits next week unless Congress acts in the next few days.

“Both houses of Congress need to grow up and make sure 2.3 million Americans don’t lose their benefits,” said Mitchell Hirsch, an unemployed worker advocate at the New York-based National Employment Law Project.

There are both humanitarian and economic reasons to continue those benefits, Hirsch said. A sudden loss of money from Washington, which the unemployed usually spend quickly on necessities, would hurt local economies, he said.

Connecticut and most other states offer 26 weeks of benefits to the unemployed. But since the recession began in 2008, the federal government has provided an extension of those benefits, at one point for up to 99 weeks, but now 83 weeks in Connecticut.

Authorization to continue the program runs out on Dec. 31, just as a series of Bush-era tax breaks are set to expire. It would cost about $30 billion to extend the long-term unemployment benefits for another year.

The Connecticut Department of Labor says an end to the long-term benefits means 43,000 to 45,000  jobless in the state would stop receiving unemployment checks in January.

Sharon Palmer, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor, said her agency warned Connecticut’s long-term unemployed by letter earlier this month their benefits may soon be ending.

“We also told them to continue to file for benefits because if Congress does act, we can send them the money right away,” Palmer said.

Since the recession began, the numbers of long-term unemployed — defined as someone who has been out of work for at least 26 weeks — has remained stubbornly high, representing about 40 percent of all jobless. The average duration of unemployment is about  40 weeks.

Palmer said a sudden end of benefits would force the longtime jobless to look for other social services to “stay afloat,” placing an additional strain on the state’s resources.

Last week, President Obama urged lawmakers to scale back ambitions for a grand bargain to avoid the dire economic consequences expected to occur when the Bush-era tax breaks expire and $500 billion in automatic spending cuts are implemented on Jan. 2. The president instead wanted Congress to send him legislation that would prevent tax cuts from expiring for all but the highest-earning Americans — and extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

But as the clock ticks away toward the New Year and the fiscal cliff, the situation in Washington remains stalemated.

The Senate is in session today.  But the House has no plans to convene, following the failure last week of House Speaker John Boehner to win GOP support for legislation to prevent scheduled tax increases on everyone but millionaires.

Congressional Democrats want to extend the jobless benefits and Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., both signed a letter urging the Senate leadership to do so.

Republicans resisted previous reauthorizations, arguing the original idea was for a temporary measure. But GOP leaders have not weighed in on the issue recently, giving some advocates for the unemployed hope.

Palmer of the Connecticut Department of Labor said she hopes Congress and the president will agree to continue both the tax cuts and the unemployment benefits for a short period of time, leaving the new Congress the tough job of coming up with a broader agreement on taxes and spending.

Nancy Carrington, president of the Connecticut Food Bank, which feeds those in need in six counties, said an end of long-term benefits would “add more people to the line”  of those seeking help from her organization, a line that’s grown during the recession and from the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

“It seems to be a very cruel gesture at the conclusion of our holiday season,” she said.


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Larson to Hold Conference Call to talk Fiscal Cliff

HARTFORD — Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01) will hold a Telephone Town Hall tonight with constituents to discuss the ongoing “Fiscal Cliff” debate and how it may impact Connecticut residents.

After brief remarks, constituents who call in will be able to ask questions of the Congressman.

According to Larson, if Congress  fails to act by the end of the year, middle class families may see their taxes raised by an average of over $2,000.

The call will begin at 5 p.m.

Participants should call 877-229-8493 and use access code 16167.

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