News / USA

    US Could Step Off 'Fiscal Cliff' in Days

    Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 21, 2012.
    Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 21, 2012.
    Michael Bowman
    Less than a week remains before a still-recovering U.S. economy confronts a draconian austerity regime of automatic, across-the-board tax increases and deep cuts to federal spending.  Hopes of averting the so-called “fiscal cliff” by January 1 are dimming with each passing day.

    Call it Washington’s version of "Mission Impossible".


    What is the U.S. Fiscal Cliff?

    • An agreement intended to force politicians to compromise and make deals.
    • Without a deal by January 1, 2013, sharp spending cuts would hit military and social programs.
    • Tax hikes also would go into effect.
    • The combination would reduce economic activity, and could boost unemployment and push the nation back into recession.
    The challenge?  A politically-divided and chronically-gridlocked Congress has just days to forge a deficit reduction package acceptable to legislators of both parties and President Barack Obama.  The package would have to pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by midnight New Year’s Eve, or the United States will, indeed, step off the fiscal cliff.

    In other words, Washington must accomplish in a few days what years of intensive negotiations have failed to produce: a blueprint for stabilizing America’s runaway national debt, which stands at $16 trillion and is projected to top $20 trillion in a few years.

    “I do not want us to go over the cliff.  I want to find a solution," said Republican Senator John Barrasso on Fox News Sunday.

    His words were echoed by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar on ABC’s This Week program.

    “It is time to get back to the [negotiating] table,” she said.

    For more than a month, negotiations were led by President Obama, a Democrat, and Republican House Speaker John Boehner.  Now, Boehner has all but removed himself from the talks.  After failing to narrow differences with Obama, Boehner last week sought to pass legislation on his own that would save all but millionaires from a federal tax increase.  But ultra-conservative Republicans refused to back the measure, and Boehner canceled the vote and adjourned the House until further notice.  Boehner said the burden of forging a deal now falls to President Obama and Senate leaders.

    The Senate convenes Thursday and presumably will stand ready to vote on any deal that may materialize.  Some Senate Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, say they would be willing to vote for higher taxes on top earners, as Democrats demand.

    “I would vote for revenues, including tax rate hikes, even though I do not like them, to save the country from becoming [like] Greece,” he said.

    Graham spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press program.  Meanwhile, some Democratic Senators, like Amy Klobuchar, advocate a large-scale deal that addresses taxes as well as federal spending, including reforms to costly programs that provide health care and other benefits to retirees.

    “I would love to see a bigger deal.  I would like nothing more, and there are always miracles," she said. "It is Christmas.”

    Before heading to Hawaii for a Christmas vacation, President Obama suggested a scaled-back package of tax relief for America’s middle class may be the only remaining viable option ahead of the fiscal cliff.

    “There is absolutely no reason, none, not to protect these Americans from a tax hike,” he said.

    Some political analysts believe lawmakers will find the political will to compromise only after January 1, when they will face the wrath of constituents angry over higher taxes and lower take-home pay combined with reduced government services brought on by federal spending cuts.  In the meantime, financial markets could be thrown into turmoil, consumers may limit spending, and businesses may scale back operations in anticipation of austerity measures, putting the nation’s fragile economic recovery at risk.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Video Energy Lacking at Annual Offshore Oil Conference

    The slump in oil prices that began in 2014 has taken a toll on the industry but all express confidence it will end eventually

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Lumineer from: CA
    December 26, 2012 1:48 PM
    The best way to resolve fiscal problems in a longer view is to retreat from WTO. The same condition likes EU. Those countries need disassociate from WTO, because the evidence proves their products lack competitive ability, they lost their markets one by one.
    In Response

    by: Michael Guy from: Canonsburg, Pa
    December 26, 2012 11:32 PM
    We have heard of the phrase "Brink of Insanity". But the fiscal Cliff is actually the "Brink of Sanity". If any one of us find our selves in too much debt, the sane and correct response is to increase revenue and decrease expenses. Finally, the profligate squanderers in Washington and their cadres of parasites have come to realize their is no cornucopia, there is no free lunch. Loans are made by creditors with terms, conditions and pledges of physical assets as collateral that benefit the foreign plutocratic lenders. Time to quit promising lenders and voters everything, time to show fiduciary and fiscal cometence, time to let reality, ie the fiscal cliff, come to fruition. Only in Washington and Lewis Carrol's looking glass world would fiscal competence be called a catastrophe.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora