I just started reading through the actual bill that the Senate passed today. There's more in there than the mainstream media is reporting. I know the dKos debate is focusing on the tax-threshold ($250k vs. $450k) and the brief postponement of the sequester, but it's worth considering what else is part of the package -- and honestly, there's some pretty good stuff.
(Warning, a bit wonkish below the fold, but pretty important!)
Here's the whole bill, thanks to the Library of Congress:
Some highlights that caught my eye follow. Others may have more knowledge about some of the other sections, please chime in.
1) Permanent AMT fix (Sec 104)
This has been a thorn in our sides for a long time. Congress after Congress has just kicked the ball down the road another year. Well, now it's done, no more bargaining chips to give up, no more crises, no more spending cuts that need to be traded against this supposed loss of revenue (which really just continues current policy).
2) Obama's tax cuts extended for 5 more years (Sec 103)
We're also talking about the Bush tax cuts, that so much favored the rich. But we forget how important Obama's tax cuts have been to the rest of us, especially the working poor. We now get the Child Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and the increased Earned Income Credit -- through 2018. This is huge.
3) Mass transit benefits for Federal employees (Sec 203)
I live in DC, so I really know about this one. Used to be, Federal employees would get free parking, but if you wanted to take Metro instead, tough luck. Thanks to Obama, you could trade your parking benefits for mass transit (anywhere, not just for DC!). That expired last year, it's really hurt Metro and other places too, and ruined a really good template that all employers should use -- now it's back, though only for a year (and somehow seems to be retroactive for this past year, not sure how that's going to work).
4) New Market Tax Credit (Sec 305)
I know about this one, because it's a great help in getting new infrastructure built in cities -- you know, actual investment, and in poor communities too. It expired last year, now we've two years worth of new capital to invest.
5) Consumer energy efficiency tax credit (Sec 401)
Yay -- I can install my solar hot water heater this after all! And add new insulation to the roof, while I'm at it.
6) Wind incentives (Sec 407)
It's only for a single year, so we'll have to go through this again, but the Production Tax Credit for wind turbines (and similar credits for a bunch of other renewables) got extended. That's tens of thousands of green jobs, and a ton of green energy, that we were about to lose.
7) Unemployment extension (Title V)
This is the one area where we really did not have any bargaining leverage on our side. No automatically expiring provisions, no candy to hand out to Republican constituencies, just struggling families who really needed the help -- and we got it, a full year extension of everything.
8) Doc fix (Sec 601)
Unlike the AMT fix, this one isn't permanent, just another year's rescue for a ridiculous rule -- but would have mostly had an impact on the elderly, poor and other Medicaid users, so at least we got it in here.
9) Farm Bill extension (Sec 701)
It's only for 9 months, but there's already a big fracas within the House Republican Caucus over Boehner's refusal to schedule a vote on the real Farm Bill, so hopefully that's all that's needed.
There's a lot more, including a bunch of health care and Medicare stuff that I don't understand. But we got a lot of real governing done in this bill -- it's a travesty that that's so unusual nowadays, but still worth including in the our debates over whether the whole package is a good one or not.