(The Root) — Update: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 11:05 p.m. EST: After hours of wrangling, the House passed the Senate’s fiscal-cliff bill, averting a host of automatic tax increases, loss of unemployment benefits and more.
While most Americans were New Year’s Eve party hopping, the president, the vice president, members of the U.S. Senate and their aides were ringing in 2013 in a slightly less festive fashion. Still, it’s very likely they finished off the night with a champagne toast or two.
The reason? The president and GOP leaders finally reached a deal to protect America from the looming fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that would have affected most Americans at the dawn of the New Year.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the deal by a vote of 89 to 8 in the early hours of 2013. “While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country, and the House should pass it without delay,” said President Obama in a statement this morning. The House convened at noon. As the nation waits to find out what action House members will take on the bill, below is a look at the winners and losers from the fiscal-cliff deal, and the debate that led to it so far.
The American people: To read the recent nonstop fiscal-cliff coverage, it was easy to see it as a battle of wills and egos among the president, House Speaker John Boehner and a few other key players. Often overshadowed were the story’s most important players: the American people, who would face real loss and suffering had a deal not been reached.
Among those most directly and immediately affected would have been the more than 2 million Americans whose unemployment benefits were set to expire. This deal is not only a welcome, belated Christmas gift for many of them but in some cases will also serve as the only lifeline keeping them from beginning 2013 in poverty.
President Obama: Polls have consistently shown that Americans blamed the GOP for the fiscal-cliff standoff much more than they blamed the president. His fiery appearance on Meet the Press this past weekend, and a tough-talking press conference featuring middle-class families, made it clear that he knew he was winning the public relations battle. Even a high-profile Republican said so.