Keep an eye on Congress

In general, Alaskans tend to be more attuned to what’s going on in Washington, D.C., than people from other parts of the country. Perhaps it’s because Alaska receives some of the highest per-capita federal funding in the nation, or maybe it’s just because following politics is a popular pastime during the long, cold winter.

 

Either way, we’ll want to pay extra-close attention to what’s happening inside the beltway over the next couple of months — and read the fine print on the bills that Congress has passed over the last few days.

Since the November election, Congress’ primary focus has been on the fiscal cliff — that combination of spending cuts and tax increases that was to go into effect on Jan. 1. In a last-minute deal, Congress addressed tax increases, but put off tough decisions on spending cuts for a couple more months.

However, while most taxpayers were spared an income tax rate increase, just about everybody will still end up paying more in taxes, in particular due to an increase in payroll taxes. Alaska workers need to be aware that there will be a little less money in the paycheck in the coming months — about $500 for a worker earning $50,000 — and need to adjust the family budget accordingly.

With tax increases addressed for the time being, the more difficult part of the equation — federal spending cuts — becomes the focus. Again, Alaskans need to pay close attention here as spending by the federal government makes up a large portion of the Alaska economy. Reductions in spending are going to hit close to home, and are going to hurt, whether it means a reduction in the federal workforce, or cutbacks to federal programs.

In a recent conversation with the Clarion editorial board, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that the most significant stimulus that Congress can provide for the American economy is certainty. The fiscal cliff was designed to force Congress to provide that certainty. It only partially worked, which leaves us left with no choice but to proceed with caution in the new year — and continue to keep a close eye on Washington, D.C.

More

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 21:29

What others say: Hunting regulations about state’s rights

It’s about states’ rights.

Read more
Wed, 05/23/2018 - 21:29

Voices of Alaska: Alaska must come together to reduce mental illness stigma

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It prevents them from seeking help. And... Read more

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:25

Op-ed: Royal couple/odd couple

Usually, the only place to hear cultured British accents is anytime on PBS, but on the eve of the royal wedding, British experts were flooding... Read more

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:24

What others say: Georgia governor’s race plays at identity politics

says state governor candidates are playing identity politics:

Read more