As the New Year approached, lawmakers argued back and forth in order to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, upon which several tax cuts set in motion during the Bush Administration would expire.
Top Republicans such as House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to reach a compromise with President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders. However, discussions dragged.
“My bet was that they would solve this before Christmas,” Dr. Bruce Anderson, associate professor of political science and pre-law advisor, said. “I honestly thought that John Boehner had enough control of the Republican Caucus that he’d be able to do that. He clearly didn’t.”
Several lawmakers were unwilling to compromise. Tea Party members argued against raising taxes in order to raise revenue.
“That was going to be part of the deal. There was no way that they could avoid it. John Boehner knew that, Mitch McConnell knew that, they knew it in the Senate, they knew it in the House…” Anderson said.
Democrats also refused cuts to welfare programs. Without a compromise in sight, the discussion continued to drag well past Jan. 1.
In the end the discussions came down to the wire, with Obama signing a deal on the fiscal cliff on Jan. 3.
However, as a result of the deal’s new taxes, some found themselves bringing home smaller paychecks after the New Year.
Kasey Skoll, junior, worked as a secretary during FSC’s winter break and was paid every Friday. After the New Year, her paycheck changed.
“My paycheck got smaller. It was $2 less than it had been before,” Skoll said.
However, Skoll was not surprised by the change.
“Someone in my office let me know that we should be expecting it to go down 2 percent,” Skoll said.
The next big hurtle is the debt ceiling, the deadline for which will arrive in the next few months.
“The debt ceiling was never a milestone before 2011…it was a footnote, it wasn’t even on the front page,” Anderson said.
However, in 2011 the argument over whether or not the government should borrow any more money became an issue between parties. As lawmakers argued, it appeared that the threat of a government shutdown was an option.
A compromise was reached before the deadline, and the issue was put on the back burner.
Now, two years later, the debt ceiling has once again become an issue. The last time the government actually shut down was in 1995 under then House Speaker Newt Gringrich, R, with then President Bill Clinton in the White House.
However, the event proved to be a disaster for Republicans, who had refused to compromise. As the shutdown continued the tide of public opinion turned against them. The Republicans were forced to compromise with the Democrats and the government reopened.
Anderson said that the possibility of another fight over the debt ceiling is “unavoidable.” With the arguments over the fiscal cliff, it does seem that the debt ceiling will be the next hurdle for the government to clear.