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Fiscal cliff winners and losers

By John Helton, CNN
January 2, 2013 -- Updated 1956 GMT (0356 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Biden and McConnell lauded for their ability to work together on deal
  • Obama sticks to his guns on deal -- for the most part
  • Boehner takes some licks in fiscal cliff drama
  • Congressional Republicans criticized for threatening deal

Washington (CNN) -- Congress went beyond the edge of the fiscal cliff to get a deal done in back-to-back, late-night sessions to avert a financial crisis, or at least to put it off for a couple months. Here are winners and losers in the deal:

Winners

Vice President Joe Biden: This might not have been the "Big f***ing deal" that he proclaimed the passage of Obamacare to be, but it was a pretty big deal. Biden used his years of experience cutting deals in the Senate to work out a compromise with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He used the same playbook in the first extension of the Bush-era tax cuts in 2010 and the debt ceiling fight in 2011, walking through the proposal with progressives in the Senate and then the House to bring them in line.

Then he went and got a sandwich.

Biden hasn't ruled out a run for the White House when Obama's second term is up and his role in this deal makes a President Biden believable.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: He found the "dance partner" he was looking for in Biden and skillfully worked behind the scenes with the vice president to broker a deal that got overwhelming Republican support in the Senate.

It's too early to tell whether McConnell will pay the price with hard-line conservatives at home in Kentucky who have already shown that they can oust Senate incumbents who anger them by working with Democrats. No real Republican opponent has emerged in his re-election race in 2014 but they mobilized two years ago to elect Rand Paul to the Senate over McConnell's hand-picked candidate.

Inside the deal

Obama thanks Biden for 'great work'
Focus needs to be on avoiding downgrades
Psaki: Fiscal cliff 'package is good'

President Barack Obama: White House insiders say he learned lessons in his first term and would be a tougher negotiator in his second. He didn't get the big deal that he set out for and some progressives think that he gave too much away, but getting Republican votes to raise taxes on the wealthy is significant. And he did pick Biden to be his vice president.

The wealthy: Despite higher taxes, it could have been a lot worse.

The unemployed: Another year of benefits for those actively looking for work.

Five things to know about the fiscal cliff

Losers

The employed: The two-year payroll tax holiday is over, so take-home pay will go down -- around $2,000 less a year for the average wage earner as the rate went from 4.2% to 6.2%. But ending the tax holiday will add about $120 billion to federal coffers.

House Speaker John Boehner: He had to pull his "Plan B" back from the floor when it became clear that he didn't have the Republican votes for passage and then had to sit back and watch McConnell make a deal with Biden. On Tuesday, he was reduced to dodging microphones and listening to conservative members vent about the deal that was forced on them. While weakened, Boehner's standing appears safe, though. Really, who would want this job?

House Republicans: Could their reputation get any worse? First, they publicly threaten the deal passed by the Senate to up the anxiety for the nation on New Year's Day. And then they cave when the votes to add spending cuts to that proposal never materialized. Finally, they tell Superstorm Sandy victims waiting for more help from Washington to wait longer -- pushing back a vote on an aid package.

A grand bargain: Have you seen anything that makes you think these guys get a long-term deal done to address the real crisis on the debt ceiling a few more weeks down the road?

The can: That poor sucker gets a couple more dents and a few more scuffs as it gets kicked down the road again.

iReport: What's your message for Washington?

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