8th District Congressman Chris Van Hollen says he supports the bill that backs the United States away from its fiscal cliff.
In an email, he issued the following statement. "On balance, this legislation will help working families, boost our economy, and ensure that the top 1 percent share greater responsibility for reducing our deficits. While I oppose the estate tax provision, which is an average tax break of over $1 million to the approximately 7,000 wealthiest estates in our country, the vast majority of the package represents important progress - the middle class tax cut will be made permanent, the child tax credit will be extended, the Alternative Minimum Tax and Medicare physician payment rates will be addressed, and we will continue to provide unemployment benefits to the millions of Americans who are out of work through no fault of their own.
"Any agreement required compromise, and I believe this is a fair deal for the American people. It is unfortunate that we were not able to do a larger plan on deficit reduction, but President Obama has made clear that he will continue to fight for a balanced approach as we work to get our fiscal house in order. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation."
Congress averted that self-built precipice late Tuesday when the House voted to stave off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts by accepting a brokered Senate compromise. It makes permanent the Bush administration's tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and couples earning less than $450,000.
It raises rates on those who make more than that from 35% to 39.6%, bringing back a top tax bracket from the Clinton administration, and will raise roughly $600 billion in new revenues over 10 years, according to various estimates.
The bill also extends unemployment insurance and delays for two months the threat of sequestration -- a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts in federal spending.
Economists had predicted the combination of those tax increases and spending cuts could have thrown the U.S. economy back into recession and driven unemployment back into the 9% range.
Meanwhile, a new Congress takes office on Thursday, and lawmakers will soon be confronted by the need to raise the federal debt ceiling and what to do about the still-hanging sequester -- a legacy of the last battle over the debt ceiling, in 2011.