Peterson says missing fiscal cliff deadline not “end of the world”

Minnesota 7th Congressional District Rep. Collin Peterson is among the fiscal cliff skeptics.

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News, he said it won’t be catastrophic if Congress fails to meet the January 1, 2013 deadline to pass a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that some fiscal experts say could throw the nation back into a recession.

“All that’s happening is that the laws that we passed are going to go into effect and they’re actually going to reduce the deficit,” he said. “So I don’t see this as the end of the world, but people have made it out like something catastrophic is going to happen. I don’t believe it.”

Peterson said he’s hearing it’s unlikely Congress will scrape together a deal before the end of the year.

“I just can’t see how, given what happened before we left, how something that’s acceptable to the president and the Senate can get through the House,” he said.

If Congress fails to act, it would mean higher taxes for everyone because tax rates would return to levels last seen during Bill Clinton’s administration.

But Peterson said the effect won’t be too burdensome for most people. Rather, it’s the elimination of a payroll tax cut that could hurt people’s wallets immediately, he said.

“That’s going to be the biggest effect on people when they start that 2 percent of the payroll tax they haven’t had to pay,” Peterson said. “When that goes back on, that’s going to have a bigger affect than probably the income tax on normal people.”

Peterson also said its unlikely Congress will pass a new farm bill by the end of the year. Peterson said he remains opposed to extending the current measure because he fears it would stall negotiations for another year or so.

At this point, Peterson said a more likely scenario would involve reverting to “permanent law,” a set of provisions written in the 1930s and 1940s that would effectively make it more expensive for the government to pay for crop supports.

Peterson said going back to the old law could jump-start passage of a new farm bill.