LI delegation praises 'fiscal cliff' deal

Rep. Tim Bishop speaks at the Environment and Rep. Tim Bishop speaks at the Environment and Public Works heaing to examine the damage caused by superstorm Sandy to New York. Photo Credit: Charlie Archambault

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Members of Long Island's congressional delegation said Tuesday night that the "fiscal cliff" deal that passed in the House of Representatives has flaws, but means most Long Islanders won't see a federal tax hike.

"It avoids a tax increase for probably 98 to 99 percent of Long Islanders, which I think is very important," said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton). "But I think the big picture here is we are preserving the Bush-era rates for approximately 99 percent of Americans."

The plan -- supported by all four of Long Island's representatives in the House -- preserves Bush-era income tax cuts for individuals making $400,000 and families making $450,000, a considerable hike from a previously proposed income threshold of $250,000.

Bishop emphasized bipartisan compromise in negotiations, saying, "I think there's a lot on the bill that's commendable and there's a lot on the bill that's not, but that's what compromise is all about."

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who also voted for the bill, said the increased income threshold will greatly help Long Islanders already squeezed by a sluggish economy and high property taxes. "It's not a perfect bill, but this version is much better for Long Island than the previous versions," King said.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a statement saying the bill "is far from perfect and has many, many flaws. But it is still better than going over the cliff and having the middle class pay thousands more in taxes each year."

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Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said while it was an "awful" process with 11th-hour negotiations, he's pleased with the extension of tax cuts.

"Raising the income threshold was my singular priority," Israel said. "For four years I've been making the case to everyone in Washington that $250,000 may make you rich in some areas, but it doesn't make you rich on Long Island."

Israel said long-term spending cuts are still needed: "It may not be the perfect deal, but it is a better deal for Long Island."

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