The ink was still wet on Congress' fiscal-cliff fix Wednesday morning when Americans started lumping themselves into the winners and losers circles.
And like a Venn diagram of politics, the circles overlapped with many dubbing themselves as part-loser, part-winner. Compromise is one way to view it: While Congress compromised over who qualified as wealthy, families across the country saw comprise in their own lives: Sure, they're spared income-tax increases, but they hand over that juicy 2-percentage-point payroll tax cut.
Most Americans will reap the boons of the compromise: a continuation of the Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than $400,000, more unemployment benefits for those who need them, help for small businesses, and extensions of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and college tuition breaks.
But it's Congress' failure to renew the cut in payroll taxes that garnered attention Wednesday. Those taxes, which fund Social Security, will again sap pocketbooks like they did prior to 2011.
Yahoo News asked Americans to pinpoint how the legislative deal will affect their families' short-term planning and long-term goals. How will the increase in payroll taxes hit their bottom line? What particular portions of the legislation impact them most?
"There are clearly winners and losers here," S.W. Hampson, a New Orleans filmmaker, wrote Wednesday in a first-person perspective. "Winners: The unemployed. Losers: Individuals making $400,000 per year and couples making $450,000 per year. The Biggest Loser: Me, the working man."
Hampson, 29, says he will see about an $800 decrease in take-home pay in 2013 because of the increase in payroll taxes. In the long-term, he'll be more frugal while paying off student loans, keeping a roof over his head and putting food on the table. In the short-term, he says he'll cancel a modest trip to visit family. Ending these economy-boosting tax breaks doesn't add up to him.
"Those extra few dollars a week mean a lot to me as a person working paycheck to paycheck. It isn't like that money is going into savings; it is money I would be spending, hence stimulating the economy," Hampson says.
Finding his expendable income sliced in half, he took to Twitter, telling his followers: "Bureaucratic red tape is eventually replaced by legislative duct tape…until the whole thing falls apart. #USProblems #DC'Solutions'"
In Omaha, Neb., Amber Weinacht is more equivocal.
The 35-year-old single mother of three children, ages 14, 11 and 6, says she's counting on the $1,000-per-child tax credits to curb expenses. But the legislation will take around $32 more from her paycheck monthly for Social Security benefits.
"That is a week's worth of gas, or an entire month's supply of milk for my family," Weinacht writes. "Yearly, this adds up to about $350. I cringe when I think of where our family budget will take cuts. It is already mighty lean."
Still, the tax credits, coupled with tax breaks for her residential-cleaning business, make the deal seem not so sour.
"I am hoping that things will even out at the end of the year. I will still be getting the same amount on my tax returns that I am getting now, which is a nice safety net for my family to look forward to. All in all, I guess the deal doesn't seem so bad," Weinacht says.
John A. Tures is a political science professor, so he's naturally graded Congress on its efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff.
For the short-term, Congress earns an A-.
Long-term, it nearly fails, bringing home a D-.
"Watching the fiscal cliff deal debate go down was a lot like political theater, but its conclusion would have consequences for me," the LaGrange, Ga., resident writes. "After all, any deal, or lack of one, would lead to changes in taxes and a potential panic on Wall Street."
In the next few years, he and his family are helped by the income-tax extension, reprieve of Medicare payments to doctors and $2,000 worth of child tax credits. He writes: "Contrary to popular belief, professors don't make anywhere near $400,000, and I'm married to a teacher (our household income is way below $450,000), so those tax cuts sticking around help."
But the long-term future isn't so rosy: "One of the biggest shortcomings was the lack of deficit reform. By not cutting spending, and allowing low tax rates to stick around, the fiscal cliff deal could add to the overall debt by $4 trillion. This doesn't affect families like me immediately, but such debt is unsustainable. If it leads to future tax hikes, massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and the elimination of college tuition tax breaks and Pell Grants, the short-term success the deal has for my family won't be worth it. Hopefully, the new Congress will have more appetite for long-term spending reforms, keeping more of what we need, and less of what we don't."
For Marla Mayes' parents, rescuing Medicare payments to doctors may literally be life-saving.
Mayes' parents suffer from a variety of conditions: renal kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung cancer and more. Had Congress not reached the fiscal cliff compromise, Medicare payments to doctors could have been cut by nearly 27 percent.
"Most of Dad's doctors were going to drop him," Mayes, who works as an unpaid caregiver for her folks in Merritt Island, Fla., writes. "Most of my folks' doctors already have big office signs stating they are not accepting any new Medicare patients."
Without the Medicare provisions extended, she could forget about a second opinion and likely not a first one. When her 79-year-old father had dialysis problems, a second surgeon spotted a tumor on his lung in an x-ray. Immediate surgery and a biopsy followed.
"I can't fathom trying something like that if the fiscal cliff deal had not passed," Mayes says.
Read more first-person perspectives on the fiscal cliff deal: