Frustration with Congress lingers after fiscal cliff deal - FOX 35 News Orlando

Frustration with Congress lingers after fiscal cliff deal

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    Wednesday, January 2 2013 4:00 PM EST2013-01-02 21:00:38 GMT
    Washington D.C. is a virtual ghost town Wednesday morning with Congress adjourning and the president back on vacation in Hawaii. Everybody left when the House approved the Senate's fiscal cliff deal.
    Washington D.C. is a virtual ghost town Wednesday morning with Congress adjourning and the president back on vacation in Hawaii. Everybody left because the House approved the Senate's fiscal cliff deal to prevent big tax increases and automatic spending cuts.

It was down to the wire, but Congress managed to reach a deal on the so-called "fiscal cliff" -- but it's what they didn't do that is getting a lot of negative attention now.

Last week, the Senate passed a bill to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. To many, it seemed like a done deal, but House Speaker John Boehner pulled it at the last minute without a clear explanation as to why.

Speculation is that Republicans didn't want to add $60 billion to the deficit right after passing a fiscal cliff deal. While Republicans vow a deal for victims will get done this week, the conflict seems to have underscored everything that is wrong with Congress.

"For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "

Rumors are swirling that the last few days could spell the end for House Speaker John Boehner. After backing away from the fiscal cliff, Boehner quickly adjourned Congress without taking up the $60 billion aid package for Hurricane Sandy, which struck more than two months ago. By comparison, Hurricane Katrina victims got a similar deal in just 10 days.

"There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner," Christie said.

The timing couldn't be worse for the troubled Speaker. The new Congress will vote on his speakership on Thursday, just hours after a frustrated Boehner reportedly confronted Senate Leader Harry Reid in the lobby of the White House to tell him to "go f--- yourself."

"I am dismayed and really saddened that the House of Representatives walked away last night," Reid said.

At least Wall Street was happy, however. The Dow Jones jumped 308 points on Wednesday after the stamp of approval was given to the deal that will end the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $400,000 annually. Social Security payroll taxes will go up for nearly all Americans, and while automatic spending cuts were avoided with a two-month delay, the deal was still loaded with pork via so-called "tax extenders." Some of those include:

  • $43 million in tax breaks for building NASCAR tracks
  • $75 million in deductions for Hollywood movies
  • Tax credits for electric bikes and scooters
  • $500 million tax break on Puerto Rican rum.

Despite all of that, nothing was done for the victims of Sandy -- but after a closed-door meeting, Boehner promised a floor vote on Friday to pass $9 billion in flood insurance. He said the rest of the Sandy package would be taken up by the middle of January.

Even with that promise, the trouble isn't over. The across-the-board cuts to defense and social programs will take place unless Congress acts within the next two months, which is about the same time when the debt ceiling will need to be addressed once more.

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