Although the fiscal cliff was avoided, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said during a conference call Wednesday that the next step is to control spending. He said he believes there are some serious reforms that need to be made to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, said he and his fellow Republicans are ready to shut down the government to show how serious they are about controlling government spending. Discussions about federal spending will be held in February.
He said he didn't agree with everything in the bill, but he voted for it because otherwise it would've resulted in the largest tax increase in American history.
The tax agreement extends middle-class tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush. It increases taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of the population.
"This bill will permanently keep tax rates low for 99 percent of taxpayers in the 9th District," Shuster said in a press release.
"Making the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for the middle class has been a priority of House Republicans for several years. This legislation provides certainty and protects middle class families and small businesses from higher taxes. The cost of inaction was too high for our constituents and the country," Shuster said.
Despite the deal, taxpayers will still see smaller paychecks. A temporary Social Security tax holiday enacted by President Barack Obama two years ago expired. Neither Republicans nor Democrats made a significant push to extend that tax cut. The rate rose from 4.2 to 6.2 percent.
No decision was made on the debt limit; in fact, the discussion was tabled until February. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds and other payments. If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, the government would default on its legal obligations. The current debt limit, or debt ceiling, is $16.4 trillion.