Washington — President Barack Obama on Friday signed an $858 billion tax bill into law, saying “this is progress and that’s what they (the American people) sent us here to achieve.”
“We are here with good news for the American people this holiday season,” he said. “By a wide margin, both houses of Congress passed a package of tax relief that will protect the middle class, that will grow our economy and will create jobs for the American people.”
Obama was flanked on stage by Democrats and Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was instrumental in getting the bipartisan legislation passed. Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, however, did not attend the bill signing.
Explanation of Tax Cuts:
The House of Representatives gave final approval late Thursday night to the deal, negotiated by the White House and top Senate Republicans. The final vote of 277-148 had almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in support.
The package includes a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire December 31. It also would extend unemployment benefits for 13 months, cut the payroll tax by 2 percentage points for a year, restore the estate tax at a lower level and continue a series of other tax breaks.
The bill, which cleared the Senate 81-19 on Wednesday, passed despite objections from both the left and the right. However, the pending expiration of the lower tax rates dating back to 2001 created a deadline that forced both sides to accept provisions they had long opposed.