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Local Families Have Message For ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Combatants: Do Right By Us

Residents Say They Have No Idea How They'll Deal With Huge Tax Increase
John Boehner, Barack Obama (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

John Boehner, Barack Obama (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For tens of thousands of people in the Tri-State Area, the “fiscal cliff” debate is more than just a Washington political battle. Many in the middle class here are wondering how they’ll make ends meet if their taxes go up on New Year’s Day.

Astoria, Queens, is a hard-working middle class neighborhood filled with people who will be very hard hit if the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff.

“It would make a terrible difference to me and my family. My wife and I are living on a limited budget,” Costa Constantinides told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer on Wednesday.

Frankly, Constantinides said he doesn’t know how he’ll support his wife and 3-year-old son, Nikolas, if his taxes go up an estimated $4,000 on Jan. 1.

“Four thousand dollars a year is our food budget. That’s something that I don’t know how we would replace,” Constantinides said. “It means an awful lot. It means and awful lot of every middle class family in this community and I’ve been living in Astoria my whole life.”

He wants the people in Washington to understand that their decisions affect real people like him. He said the president and Congress should learn the “c” word – compromise.

“There are some that don’t want to compromise. I teach my 3-year-old to compromise. I tell him he can’t have a cookie before dinner and then we decide, well, maybe if he eats four bites he gets a cookie. In Washington, they seem to want to have the whole cookie all the time,” Constantinides said.

Another aspect of the fiscal cliff is that unemployment benefits will run out, which may be why hundreds lined up for a Manhattan job fair on Wednesday. Many said they’ll do anything.

“Receptionist, administrative assistant, I type, computers, I drive buses … you name it, I do it,” said Cynthia Young of Manhattan.

“The job search here is ridiculous in New York,” added Vincent Hearn of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “Basically, I am looking for anything that pays American dollars.”

Many said the Washington politicians shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the economy is weak.

“Create more jobs, because I’m qualified to get a job,” one person said.

The poor and the elderly could also be affected by the fiscal cliff negotiations. They won’t be able to heat their homes. Without a deal there will be an automatic 10 percent reduction in the federal Low Energy Assistance Program that helps 6.9 million households keep warm.

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