Wednesday January 2, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Gridlock in Washington equals anger in the Berkshires.

That was the general consensus among county residents on Tuesday as they reacted to the federal government’s failure to reach an agreement to prevent automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts from taking place before the Jan. 1 deadline, the situation known as the "fiscal cliff."

The Senate did approve a deal early Tuesday morning, about two hours after the deadline expired, with Massachusetts Sens. John F. Kerry and Scott Brown both voting in favor. The House later voted to approve the Senate’s bill.

"It’s very frustrating that they can’t work together and come to a compromise," said Heather Heim of Lenox before entering the Beacon Cinema on North Street.

That was one of the nicer comments.

Some remarks included words like "stinks," while others expressed frustration at the behavior of elected officials.

"I’d get rid of all of them," said Donald Wood of West Stockbridge, who voted for Libertarian Party candidates in the last election. "They tell people they’re going to make a change, then nobody makes a change. There’s too many factions.

"I don’t want to have anything to do with government, period," Wood said.

At least Wood chose to speak.

"You don’t want my opinion," another man said before entering the theater.

"No comment," said another man while leaving the Beacon.

When asked how failure to prevent the country from going over the fiscal cliff would affect him personally, Allan Hebert of Lee said he hoped the situation wouldn’t affect his job.

"I’ve already lost my job twice in the last five years," Hebert said.

Robert Acevedo of Pittsfield, who was walking his dog on North Street, took a more reasoned approach.

"I don’t think it’s terrible or anything," said Acevedo, 25. "The world will just keep going around."

Acevedo, who blames both political parties for the debacle, works in retail. Legislative gridlock isn’t good for business, he said.

"My manager always says that health care prevents her from hiring more people," he said.