That Fiscal Cliff Deal Is Going To Cost Florida Billions; Here's How Much More You'll Pay

Chances are, when you heard that the GOP-controlled House had finally relented on a deal that kept the nation from plunging Wile E. Coyote-style off a fiscal cliff, you popped a little mental champagne. But even though the compromise prevents huge tax increases and keeps unemployment benefits in place, analysts this morning say it's also going to cost Floridians billions through a payroll tax increase.

The four Florida Republicans who voted for the bill -- including Miami's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart -- could be in for a rough ride from party loyalists over that fact.

The compromise deal left in place tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, but it didn't keep a payroll tax deduction passed back in 2010. The rate will rise from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent starting this month.

The result? About 7.1 million Florida households will take home less on every paycheck; if you make $30,000, you'll chip in an extra $50 a month, while a low six-figure income means nearly $200 more headed to Uncle Sam this year, CNN calculates.

Want to know how much you'll pay? Pop your income into this calculator on the Wall Street Journal's news blog.

Statewide in Florida, that translates to about $6.5 billion lost into the federal coffers, the Miami Herald reports.

"The net effect is it's going to be a drag on growth,'' Sean Snaith, director of UCF's Institute for Economic Competitiveness, tells the Herald.

Another possible effect: An easy line of attack for Tea Party challengers to attack Republicans who backed the deal.

Florida had five GOPers in the House back the deal -- Bill Young, Vern Buchanan, Ander Crenshaw and our own Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen. Up in Jacksonville, the Tea Party has already taken a swipe at Crenshaw, accusing him of "abandoning conservative principles."

Those Republicans, of course, point out that the deal was pretty sweet for conservatives; it enshrines the tax cuts they fought so hard for under Bush.

"While this bill has its flaws, it immediately and permanently cuts taxes on 98 percent of the American people," Diaz-Balart says in a statement.

It also kept the nation from plunging into another recession -- at least until next month, when Republicans promise to push Obama yet again, this time on the nation's debt ceiling.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink