While we were dangling at the edge of the “fiscal cliff” for a while it appears an agreement has been reached that will avoid the United States going completely over the “fiscal cliff”.  The high-stakes drama was resolved after days of back and forth between Biden and McConnell, who finally came to an agreement late Monday.  The measure was then taken to the Senate floor, where it passed by an overwhelming majority of 89-8 vote.

Specifically, MSN news reports that the bipartisan agreement that the Senators passed in the middle of the night included the following:

  • Raise income taxes on single earners with annual incomes above $400,000 and married couples with incomes above $450,000.
  • Block spending cuts for two more months.
  • Extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. 
  • Prevents a 27% cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients
  • Prevent a spike in milk prices.

Yes, that is correct!  The bipartisan agreement passed by the Senate late last night also included a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill.  Most Americans probably were not even aware that the issue of milk prices possibly doubling was also dangling as we waited on an agreement to be reached to avert the “fiscal cliff”. 

Apparently the 2008 Farm Bill issue was an under-reported fact that had been the potential for a roll-back of the 2008 Farm Bill that would have allowed milk prices to be derived from a 1948 formula that would have had serious impact on most people at the grocery store.  This would have not only affected the price of milk, but anything made with milk.  Without the extension, milk prices were forecasted to go as high as $8.50 per gallon, or even higher.  Although Congress was able to pass as part of the bipartisan agreement a one-year extension to the 2008 Farm Bill which will leave prices in the dairy case untouched.

MSN news reports that President Barack Obama acknowledged the difficulties the parties had coming to an agreement and pushed the House to quickly approve the bill in a statement just after the vote. “While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay,” the statement said. “This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way — by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.”

While we are glad the “fiscal cliff” has been averted by the bipartisan agreement, we are even more pleased to report that the 27% cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients was also averted.  This will help ensure Medicare beneficiaries continue to receive the quality of care they deserve from the qualified physicians whose payments have not been sacrificed as part of the fix to the “fiscal cliff”. 


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