US tax cuts: Congress passes compromise deal

The US House of Representatives has passed a compromise tax bill averting a New Year rise in income taxes for millions of Americans.The deal forged by the White House and Republicans also extends benefit payments for some of the longer-term unemployed for 13 months.The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday but its chances of passing the lower chamber had been seen as less certain.

Some Democrats have been angry about tax breaks for wealthy Americans.However, President Barack Obama had said that a compromise was needed to win Republican support.The $858bn package was passed by 277 votes to 148 in the House of Representatives.

'No option'
Under a proposal that the White House crafted with Republicans and announced last week, tax cuts enacted by President George W Bush in 2001 and 2003 and set to expire this year would be extended at all levels - including for the highest earning Americans.Some unemployment benefits would also continue, inheritance tax would be lowered, and payroll taxes would be cut for a year in a bid to spur consumer spending.

Mr Obama and his Democratic allies had vigorously opposed allowing low tax rates for wealthy Americans to continue at a time of massive budget deficits, but Senate Republicans rejected Mr Obama's preferred approach and the president said he saw no option other than compromise.When Mr Obama announced the deal last week he said it was the only way to avoid the damage to American families and the economy that would ensue if taxes were allowed to rise and long-term unemployment benefits were not extended.

As liberals in Washington have railed against the deal, a growing number of conservatives have also taken up opposition.They note the bill adds to the US budget deficit, while also objecting that the low tax rates - which have the biggest impact on the deficit - are only temporary.

17.12.2010

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