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Fundamentals of fiscal cliff

How new agreement can affect student tuition

By Jonathan Miller
On January 14, 2013

  • Jonathan Miller is A&E Editor of The Cauldron and an Economics and English double major at CSU.

There has been a grey aura of confusion surrounding Washington lately. In particular, the role of Congress and their inability to compromise on nearly anything these days. As a result, much of what is actually being legislated has been too often overshadowed by outdated philosophies and political bickering that leads nowhere.
This sort of display is nothing we aren't unfamiliar with as a democracy.After all, politics wouldn't be politics without some filibustering. But it seems that within the past four years this stubborn approach of Congress has grown to new heights presenting themselves with an image not far from a high school debate team.
It began with the Affordable Health Care bill - or "Obamacare" - soon followed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But the finest example of dissension has been this most recent piece of legislation - the "fiscal cliff."
So to put politics aside for a moment, what exactly was agreed upon? And how does this affect us - the students?
In the most simplistic sense, the deal will raise income taxes to the Clinton-era levels on families making more than $450,000 a year and individuals making more than $400,000 a year. Although the agreement is a far cry from Obama's proposed $250,000, it does mean that 98 percent of Americans will not see their taxes go up. Furthermore, it will allow "millions of families to continue to receive tax credits to help raise their kids and send them to college," President Obama said after signing the bill.
The deal to avert this so called "fiscal cliff" allowed for a five-year extension on the 2009 stimulus bill's American Opportunity Tax Credit, which gives middle- and low-income families a tax deduction of up to $2,500 a year in education expenses for four years. It can also trim the overall cost of a college degree by $10,000.
Despite what the Republicans will argue, coinciding a cut in spending with a rise in tax revenue is not the ultimate solution to balance this financial crisis. If America wants to stay a global economic leader there must be considerable investments toward research and development for technological advancement. Yes, there should be reasonable spending cuts for federal programs. However, the House must carefully decide in the interest of the American people and not their party. But with a track record as poor as this, I doubt that will happen.
Regardless of where one stands politically these days, I think it can be stated that we are approaching a crossroads in a fundamental ideology, a crucial point where there must be a reevaluation of how the House majority operate and define their "traditional" stance. This majority is the Conservative party.
As Albert Camus said "a man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world." And after this recent mess, I'm starting to believe him.

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