The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Compromise

— by Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Last night, we witnessed something that has become too rare in Washington: a bipartisan compromise to address a serious national issue.  We appreciate the statesmanship of Vice-President Biden and Minority Leader McConnell who came together in a last minute effort to avoid the most dangerous effects of the ‘fiscal cliff.’  As in all compromises, the end product includes a balance of priorities.  The Amendment, which the Senate approved last night by a vote of 89-8, is not a perfect proposal, but is a strong one that demonstrates the ability of a legislative process to work for the good of the nation.    

More after the jump.
We are pleased to see that the Senate approved a one-year extension of unemployment insurance benefits, providing necessary support for those looking to return to work as the economy recovers. We were also pleased that the charitable deduction, which is vital for the work of groups serving a number of community functions, was maintained.  Deep cuts for many important programs that support the most vulnerable and provide pathways to prosperity for millions of Americans, including Head Start and WIC, were delayed.  Similarly, the Senate legislation postponed scheduled cuts to foreign assistance programs, including aid to allies like Israel.  This morning’s passage of the Senate compromise was a large, positive step in the right direction.

Last night, Senators with different governance philosophies, who represent different constituencies, came together in a civil fashion to justly pursue the best course for the nation and avoid the most treacherous elements of the ‘Fiscal Cliff.’  They did not all agree with the details of the compromise but they understood that the national interest demands that they find a way not to fall into the abyss and to keep our nation’s economy and international status strong. We hope that their leadership will serve as a model of cooperation for the House of Representatives as it continues working on this legislation and as an indicator of a new spirit of collaboration for the incoming 113th Congress.