Congress is poised to clear the final $50 billion chunk of emergency aid for Superstorm Sandy relief Monday — and in one vote, it will have used up all the new tax money President Obama won by raising rates on the wealthy in the “fiscal cliff” deal.
The tax deal that Congress and Mr. Obama reached in early January cut taxes overall but let them rise on individuals making more than $250,000 a year and families with income of more than $300,000. Those increases brought the government somewhere on the order of about $40 billion for fiscal year 2013.
The spending bill for storm recovery costs $50 billion and, coupled with an additional $9.7 billion in flood insurance money Congress passed this month, brings the total tab for Sandy to $60 billion.
Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, will offer an amendment in the Senate on Monday to try to offset the $50 billion by an across-the-board half-percent cut, but it is expected to fail, meaning almost the entire $60 billion will have been tacked onto the deficit — more than eating up the money gained from the additional taxes.
“The Sandy aid packages swallowed more than the tax increases,” said Matt A. Mayer, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has been tracking Sandy spending. “Washington just doesn’t get the severity of our fiscal condition.”