"While we are glad to see a bill that requires the wealthiest Americans begin to pay a fairer share of taxes, AFGE members are very concerned about the use of additional agency funding cuts in order to pay for the delay of the sequester," he said.

The union represents thousands of employees in Maryland, including many who work for the Woodlawn-based Social Security Administration.

William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, was even more direct.

"The proposed fiscal cliff solution is a bad deal for federal employees," he said. "The most important federal workforce issue of our generation — sequestration — continues to hang over the head of federal employees throughout government."

Recent uncertainty over federal budgets has already had an impact on the region, said Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. Economic growth in the Washington metro area, he said, has slipped considerably when compared with other large urban regions.

"The federal machine has ground to a halt," he said.

Because the deal does not extend a Social Security tax break that was first approved in 2010, virtually all workers will see a 2 percent reduction in take-home pay.

"Paychecks are going to be smaller on top of the fact that people are going to be worried about their jobs," Fuller said.

Still, Fuller sees reasons to be optimistic. If lawmakers can reach a broad budget fix in the coming weeks, it would create certainty in the second half of the year. Such an agreement would likely minimize spending cuts in the short term, giving the economy more room to recover, he said.

"And as soon as everybody knows what the rules are, they can get back to work," Fuller said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the "vast majority" of the package "represents important progress." He noted the extension of middle-class tax cuts, the child tax credit and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed as well as a permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, which had threatened to saddle many middle-class families with significantly higher taxes.

The agreement also maintains the current rates government pays doctors who see Medicare patients.

The Montgomery County lawmaker served on the super committee, the panel of Democratic and Republican lawmakers whose failure to agree on deficit reduction in 2011 led to the sequester.

"The difference between a divided government and dysfunctional government is the willingness to compromise," he said.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jfritze

twitter.com/matthewhaybrown

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts