Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus is alive and well in Washington, having just been the bagman for a deal between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans. The $858 billion package includes extension of the Bush across-the-board tax cuts for two years, a reduction in the estate tax, and, as a kind of throw-in, extension of expanded unemployment benefits through 2011.
The House completed congressional action on the bill Thursday, voting its approval 277-148 and sending the bill to President Obama for his signature. It is a mixed bag by any standards, and, according to 9th District Democrat Steve Cohen, who voted against it, something very like the proverbial bag of switches.
Cohen, calling the package a "seven-course meal with wine" for the wealthy, explained his reasoning in a speech on the floor of the House: