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'Fiscal cliff' deal in sight

Latham, Grassley voice concerns

January 1, 2013
By BILL SHEA ( , Messenger News

As the nation teetered on the edge of the fiscal cliff Monday night, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham expected to be back at work in the Capitol today to address the problem.

''There's no agreement that I know of,'' the Republican from Clive said Monday night from Washington.

He said members of the House of Representatives were urged to stay close to the Capitol Monday in case a deal was reached and a vote was necessary. But he said he doubted that would happen.

But by late Monday night, senators were meeting to discuss a potential breakthrough.

''Depending on how both Democrats and Republicans receive the outline of the agreement will determine when or if a vote will transpire,'' U.S Sen. Charles Grassley said in a written statement.

He said he wished Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had brought a bill up in the Senate for debate weeks ago.

''It didn't need to be a midnight deal,'' the Iowa Republican said.

Grassley also worried that federal government spending wasn't being adequately addressed as congressional and White House negotiators sought a deal.

''I remain very concerned that Washington's spending problem be addressed in a way that is meaningful because of the president's focus on raising taxes and even increasing government spending in the fiscal cliff negotiations,'' Grassley said. ''I hope that's not the case in the end.''

With just a few hours to go before the midnight fiscal cliff deadline, Latham said he believed it would be impossible to get a bill passed Monday even if a last-minute deal was struck with President Barack Obama. He said he expects Congress to be in session this afternoon and Wednesday.

Thanks to the tax hikes that would result from a fall off the fiscal cliff, Iowans would very soon see smaller paychecks, according to the congressman.

''If nothing is done, the next time someone gets a paycheck the marginal tax rates will be up and they'll see it immediately,'' he said.

Tax rates will rise and the 2 percent payroll tax cut in effect for the past two years would be eliminated if Obama and congressional Republicans don't reach an agreement. Latham said that an additional 30 million families will be subject to a higher income tax rate known as the alternative minimum tax.

Significant budget cuts would also result from a plunge off the fiscal cliff. However, Latham said that Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor, and food stamps have been exempted from the mandatory cuts.

He said the cuts will affect jobs in the defense industry, medical research and Head Start, an early childhood education program.

Latham represented Webster County in Congress for 15 years and will do so until the Congress created by the November election convenes on Thursday. At that time, he will begin serving the 3rd Congressional District and U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, will begin representing the district that includes Webster County.

Efforts to contact King and U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin were unsuccessful Monday night.



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