WNYT.com

Local groups concerned over looming federal fiscal cliff

Posted at: 11/08/2012 4:15 PM
Updated at: 11/08/2012 6:05 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - It would seem there's a lot of incentive to work a deal.

"The middle class has taken it on the chin," said Congressman Paul Tonko (D - Amsterdam). "They have watched their income either lie flat or dip south while others have seen triple digit percentage increases."

There were negotiations between the Democratic administration and the Republican House majority leaders in the last couple of years.

Democrats offered reductions in spending on social programs if Republicans would give some on defense and allow some tax increases, especially to the wealthiest two per cent or so.

But the deal collapsed.

Congress kicked the can down the road by authorizing drastic automatic cuts at the start of 2013.

Now that day approaches, quickly.

"The choice is stark," said Andrew Palotta of the New York State United Teachers. "Congress can protect students and their educations or it can continue to coddle the wealthiest two per cent and corporations that ship jobs overseas."

Bob Carillo of the New York State Alliance of Retired Americans said "honoring the premise of social security and medicare should not be a partisan issue."

"Our labor, our transportation and our security infrastructure enabled the wealthiest two per cent to prosper," said Sara Nicolli of the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition. "It's time they paid back their fair share."