NORTHERN VIRGINIA -- As the political negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" heat up in Congress, President Barack Obama visited with a local family to talk about what an increase in taxes would mean for them.
The president paid a visit Thursday to Falls Church, VA resident Tiffany Santana, a high school teacher who lives with her husband, an employee of a local Toyota dealership, 7-year-old son and her parents. Her mother works as a day care provider and her father works for the U.S. Postal Service.
In a video released by the White House (which you can watch in the media box at right), Santana said, "Real, everyday people know what $2,000 means to their lives, to their ability to feed their children, or their ability to send their children to school. These things certainly don't require an economist's view. So, $2,000 to me would be paying a month's rent. It's something very tangible."
That amount is what the White House says is what the average taxpayer would pay if the country went over the fiscal cliff—a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that will go into effect if Congress and the president don't come to a spending agreement by the end of December.
The president and many Congressional Democrats are calling for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, in addition to closing tax loopholes, limiting deductions and limiting certain discretionary and entitlement spending. Congressional Republicans are calling for an extension of tax cuts already in place; they also want to close loopholes, limit deductions, and cut discretionary and entitlement spending more than Democrats want. Negotiations are continuing.
Following Obama's visit to Santana's home, he made public remarks about what Tiffany, her husband and parents said, and how the looming tax hikes and spending cuts would affect them and the economy:
"For them to be burdened unnecessarily because Democrats and Republicans aren’t coming together to solve this problem gives you a sense of the costs involved in very personal terms," Obama said. "Obviously, it would also have an impact on our economy, because if this family has a couple of thousand dollars less to spend, that translates into $200 billion of less consumer spending next year. And that’s bad for businesses large and small. It’s bad for our economy. It means less folks are being hired, and we can be back in a downward spiral instead of the kind of virtuous cycle that we want to see."
According to a White House blog post, "Many say that paying $2,000 more in taxes would force families to make some tough choices about their household budgets. For some, it might mean deciding whether to buy groceries or fill a prescription. For others, it would be the difference in making rent or paying tuition."