Opinions differ over the nation's fiscal cliffArea News
-- Fiscal cliff talks on Capitol Hill are causing anxiety nationwide, and Woodbury is no exception.
By: Riham Feshir , Pierce County Herald
WOODBURY, MInn. -- Fiscal cliff talks on Capitol Hill are causing anxiety nationwide, and Woodbury is no exception.
The bottom line is: Everyone is anxious for both sides to reach a deal.
But some are not happy with President Barack Obama’s plan, while others are supporters of a tax hike on the top 2 percent income earners.
“I’m not pleased with the fact that the president has no plan for what happens on the bottom of the cliff,” said Woodbury resident Merrit Marquardt, a retired lawyer.
Like everyone else, his taxes would go up significantly if lawmakers don’t reach a deal, but Marquardt said what bothers him is they haven’t come up with a plan to address entitlement reform like cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Others around Woodbury agree with Obama and said the rich have taken enough, so now it’s time to give back a little.
“They’re going to fall off (the cliff) the way things are going,” said a woman who declined to share her name, adding, “Government isn’t for the good of the majority of the people anymore.”
Cottage Grove resident Jenny Gunter, who like many others wasn’t too familiar with what would happen to her taxes if lawmakers don’t reach a deal, said she thought the prospect was scary.
After a reporter showed her an estimate of how much she’d have to pay in taxes, Gunter said she, her husband and their three children would cut down on spending.
“Vacations, hotel stays, Caribou Coffees,” she said would be cut.
Economists say if policymakers in Washington don’t fix fiscal woes, the economy will probably drop into a recession.
“If they kick the can down the road or allow us to go down the fiscal cliff, that probably costs us money,” State Economist Tom Stinson said.
Stinson’s staff produced a report about what would happen with no fiscal cliff solution, including Minnesotans holding 45,000 fewer jobs than expected by the end of 2013 and 70,000 fewer a year later.
Personal income would drop 4 percent, the report shows, and the state unemployment rate would jump to 7.1 percent from the current 5.8 percent.
According to data from the Tax Policy Center, a married couple with two children making about $75,000 a year would pay an additional $3,000 in taxes next year.
The average income for Woodbury families is around $128,000, according to U.S. Census Data. For them, taxes would increase by about $6,000 to $8,000 depending on the family dynamics.
“I would feel very disappointed if we don’t come to an agreement,” said Greg Jeseritz, a Cottage Grove resident who works at 3M.
Married with two young daughters, he and his wife, a teacher, said they would cut back significantly if they had to pay more taxes.
However, he doesn’t mind paying a little to solve the nation’s debt crisis.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to get past the disagreements between Republicans and Democrats, Jeseritz said.
He said he’d like to see term limits on all of the seats in the House and Senate, because “people are just voting to keep their jobs.”
Lucinda Ughetti and daughter Carin McClain were browsing the aisles of the Woodbury Barnes and Noble last week when they shared their differing opinions on what they think will happen at the end of the year.
Ughetti said she has faith and doesn’t think the nation will go over the cliff, while McClain said officials will not reach a deal this year but they might at the beginning of 2013.
McClain, a tax preparer, said it was interesting to see the Internal Revenue Service did not create a new test to recertify tax preparers this year – it was the first time they stuck with last year’s test.
“There is that much uncertainty,” McClain said, adding, “Taxes are complicated enough.”
The deadline to reach a deal is Dec. 31.
So far the president and Republicans have been in a standoff over whether to extend expiring tax cuts for those making more than $250,000.
House Speaker John Boehner told news outlets last week that new revenue included in a deal must be created by closing tax loopholes and capping deductions.
Forum Communications State Capitol reporter Don Davis contributed to this report.