Fiscal cliff: Naples visitors tell congressmen to stop 'sitting on their duffs'

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen at dawn, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Leading lawmakers have expressed pessimism that a deal to avert the 'fiscal cliff' is close, despite increasing anxiety about a Dec. 31 deadline to stop the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and separate across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of Washington's failure to complete a deficit-reduction (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen at dawn, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Leading lawmakers have expressed pessimism that a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" is close, despite increasing anxiety about a Dec. 31 deadline to stop the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and separate across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of Washington's failure to complete a deficit-reduction (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Tom Perbix

Tom Perbix

Jerilyn Caruso

Jerilyn Caruso

Mary McDonald

Mary McDonald

— As visitors to downtown Naples wandered along Fifth Avenue South on Saturday, the deadline for the so-called fiscal cliff was on many people's minds.

But some said that, while proposed tax increases will affect their day-to-day lives, they're more upset with Congress' inability to act on the issue in a timely manner.

"We elect them to do something, and all they do is sit on their duffs," part-time Naples resident Tom Perbix said Saturday in between sips of coffee at Starbucks. "I think they're wasting time."

Lawmakers have until Monday to reach an agreement about what to do to prevent forced budget cuts and tax increases from going into effect in 2013.

Congressional leaders remain at odds over the issue, and President Barack Obama chastised lawmakers during his weekly radio and Internet address for waiting until the last minute to try to avoid the fiscal cliff.

If Monday's deadline isn't met, Americans could face some $536 billion in tax increases because several federal tax cuts and breaks expire at year's end.

The Tax Policy Center — a joint project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, both Washington think tanks — calculated that missing the deadline would affect households at various income levels.

For example, an unmarried couple with no children making $57,462 in 2012 would pay about $1,200 more in taxes in 2013. A married couple filing jointly with two children under 13 and an income of $75,240 would pay an addition $2,892.

Jerilyn Caruso said the threat of a tax hike is terrifying. But the Los Angeles resident said she isn't taking immediate steps to prepare for the possible increase.

"I'm worried, but I'm in the mode to sit tight," she said while window shopping on Fifth Avenue South. "I'm going to be reactive, rather than proactive."

Caruso said that isn't in her nature, but she doesn't think she has any other option. She said she's apprehensive about the state of negotiations, but said she supports tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.

Mary McDonald said she would support tax increases on the wealthy, and said she's concerned about what will happen in 2013 if the country goes over the cliff. But the Brooklyn resident said that she's more upset by the fact that lawmakers are dragging their feet.

"I just think it's ridiculous," she said Saturday. "It's ludicrous."

McDonald said she "doesn't have a crystal ball" but thinks lawmakers will come to some sort of agreement before the deadline. Still, she said she didn't know if it would be a long- or short-term fix.

Perbix, a Minnesota retiree, said he thinks Congressional leaders will reach a deal this coming week to avert the tax increases and budget cuts.

"I don't think they'll want to go through this again," he said.

_ Wire services contributed to this report

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Comments » 1

dccurt writes:

I don't think going over the cliff would be a bad thing. 47%(did I say that) of us don't pay taxes, the country needs money. Going over the cliff will cut funds to a lot of expenditures we should not have. Our debt is my concern, we are spending far too much, borrowing 43 cents on each dollar we spend. Not good, Americans have to wise up.

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