With 'fiscal cliff' talks teetering, Vice President Joe Biden – a former longtime senator – stepped in to broker a deal with his old colleagues and and stave off big tax hikes for most Americans.
The Senate deal to avert the fiscal cliff – or, at least, the harshest elements of it – owes much to the outsize, 11th-hour role of Vice President Joe Biden as “dance partner” to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky.
The deal extends Bush-era tax rates for all Americans except those with individual incomes over $400,000 and families with incomes over $450,000, which will be taxed at a maximum 39.6 percent rate, up from 35 percent.
The measure also extends Bush-era tax credits for families with children, the tuition tax credit, business tax credits, college tuition tax credits, and stimulus tax credits, such as credits for clean-energy companies. It extends unemployment insurance at the current 99 weeks. (Had Congress not acted, jobless coverage would have reverted back to 24 weeks.)
But it delays until next year a decision on what to do about the $110 billion in "sequester" cuts to government spending mandated by the debt-ceiling deal of 2011.
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