Local businesses react to 'fiscal cliff' deal

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The "fiscal cliff" deal passed by Congress late Tuesday night is getting mixed reactions from the local business community.

The deal, which extended unemployment benefits and avoided a round of tax increases for many Americans, still has many business owners concerned about the discontinuation of the 2 percent payroll tax deduction, returning payroll taxes to 6.2 percent from the previous 4.2 percent amount.

"I expect people starting to cut back; they're going to have to," said Paul Liebe, owner of Nightlife Billiards in Grand Junction. "It's going to make it even tougher. The last four years have been tough. Now it's going to get worse."

Diane Schwenke, CEO of Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said while the deal avoided going over the fiscal cliff, it still has left many uncertainties, including decisions about government spending cuts, which were diverted until March.

"[The deal] was supposed to include both tax increases and deficit reductions, and to only see one piece of it passed puts businesses in the mindset of 'what's next?'" she said. "Businesses would've liked to have a little more clarity than what they got."

Some measures of the deal that work in certain businesses' favor include a continuation of the research and development tax credit, and continuation of Section 176 which gives tax breaks to businesses that purchase or lease equipment. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides incentives for businesses who hire underemployed groups, was also continued.

"It was just really a mixed bag," said Schwenke, who believed the biggest concern for businesses locally is the uncertainty on consumer spending.

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