Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Stock Market in DANGER of Strangling the Bears to Death - Nadeem_Walayat
2. Germany Pivoting East, Exit US Dollar, Enter Gold Standard - Jim_Willie_CB
3.Flight MH17 – Kiev Flash Mob's Last False Flag? - Andrew_McKillop
4.Stock Market Crash Nightmare! - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold - The Million DOLLAR Question... - Rambus_Chartology
6.Gold And Silver – BRICS And Germany Will Pave The Way - Michael_Noonan
7.The Jewish Selfish Gene, People Chosen by God, Everyone Else is Goyim to Kill - Nadeem_Walayat
8.The Israeli Promised Land Dream - The Criminal Roadmap Towards “Greater Israel”? - Felicity Arbuthnot
9.Which Way is Inflation Blowing? Watch Commodities - Gary_Dorsch
10.U.S. Economy Quarterly Review and Implications for 2014-2015 - Lacy Hunt
Last 5 days
Our Totalitarian Future - Totalitarianism NOW! - 30th July 14
Stocks Bear Market Formation Revealed - 30th July 14
We Just Found “The Future” - 30th July 14
What the “Steak Bandit” Says About Asset Values - 30th July 14
Designer War By Default - Seven Types of Elite Madness - 30th July 14
Death of the U.S. Dollar? Gold an Inflation Hedge? Really? - 29th July 14
We’re Ready to Profit in the Coming Gold Price Correction—Are You? - 29th July 14
Their Economy Will Collapse, Including Ours - 29th July 14
Silver Prices – Megaphone Patterns - 29th July 14
Real U.S. Interest Rates - Fed Exit a Blue Pill? - 29th July 14
Why Israel Should NOT Exist, Just Like Any Other Rogue State - 29th July 14
Gold Still Looking Good - 29th July 14
Silver Price Set To Star - 29th July 14
Our Population Growth Totalitarian Future - 29th July 14
World War 1 Cause and Consequences - The Planned Destruction of Christendom - 29th July 14
Will Crashing Commodities Crash the Stock Market? - 29th July 14
Ukraine MH17 - Washington Thinks Americans Are Fools - 29th July 14
Stock Market Bubble Warning - 29th July 14
Gold Price and U.S. Dollar’s July Rally - 28th July 14
Second Quarter Corporate Earnings: Marching Toward a Strong Economic Recovery - 28th July 14
Time to Put a New Economic Tool in the Box - 28th July 14
Mossad in Gaza, Ukraine and the Cult Of The All-Powerful Elite - 28th July 14
Elliott Wave Gold Price Projection Since 1970 - 28th July 14
Investors Remain Uncertain As Stock Fluctuate Near Long-Term Highs - Will The Uptrend Extend? - 28th July 14
The Mass Psychology Of Decline - 28th July 14
Will the US Destroy the World? - Don’t Expect to Live Much Longer - 28th July 14
GDM and GDXJ Gold Stocks In-depth Look - 28th July 14
Stock Market One FINAL High? - 28th July 14
What It Means - Paradigm Collapse And Culture Crisis - 27th July 14
Wall Street Shadow Banking: You Can’t Taper a Ponzi Scheme: “Time to Reboot” - 27th July 14
6 Tips for Picking Winning Gold Mining Stocks - 27th July 14
Israel's War on Children, Exterminating the Palestinians Future - 27th July 14
Guilt By Insinuation - How American Propaganda Works - 26th July 14
Surprise Nuclear Attack On Russia To Liberate Ukraine - 26th July 14
Use "Magic" Of Gold/Silver Ratio To Greatly Increase Your Physical Holdings - 26th July 14
Derivatives Market Species Origins - Abuse, Props and Risks - 26th July 14
Stock Market Manipulation and Technical Analysis - 26th July 14
China’s Stock Market Finally Looks Like A Buy - 26th July 14
Ed Milliband Fears Israel Jewish Fundamentalist Gaza War Massacres Backlash - 26th July 14
The Big Energy = Power Battle Is Coming - 25th July 14
USrael - Zionists in Control of America's Goyim Brainwashed Second Coming Slaves - 25th July 14
More Weakness Ahead for Gold Miners - 25th July 14
Gold Price Strong Season Starts - 25th July 14
Geopolitics and Markets Red Flags Raised by the Fed and the BIS on Risk-taking - 25th July 14
Gold Lockdown Until Options Expiry - New Singapore Gold Contract Threatens Price Manipulation - 25th July 14
The Bond Markets, Black Swans, and the Tiny Spirit of Santo - 25th July 14
No Road Map For Avoiding The Future - 25th July 14
Israeli War Machine Concentrating Women and Children into UN Schools Before Killing Them - C4News - 25th July 14
Israeli Government Paying Jewish Fundamentalist Students to Post Facebook Gaza War Propaganda - 25th July 14
Why the Stock Market Is Heading For A Fall - This Time Is Not Different - 25th July 14
An Economic “Nuclear Strike” on Moscow, A “War of Degrees” - 25th July 14
BBC, Western Media Working for Israeli Agenda of Perpetual War to Steal Arab Land - 25th July 14
Ukraine: What To Do When Economic Growth Is Gone - 24th July 14
Stock Market Clear and Present Danger Zone - 24th July 14
The Five Elements to Creating a Something-for-Nothing Society - 24th July 14
Instability is the New Normal? - 24th July 14
Israel's Suicide Bombers Over Gaza - 24th July 14
EUR-AUD Heads Into The Danger Zone - 24th July 14
Tesco Supermarket Death Spiral Accelerates as Customers HATE the Mega Brand - 24th July 14
Ukraine MH17 Crisis - Best Remember Who Your Friends Are - 24th July 14
Three Reasons Why Gold Price and Gold Stocks Will Rise - 24th July 14
HUI Gold Bugs Fighting To Break Downtrend - 23rd July 14
What Putin Knows About Flight MH17 - 23rd July 14
Why Microsoft Will Continue to Rebound, Huge Upside Potential - 23rd July 14
Will Putin Survive? - 23rd July 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The Biggest lie in Stock Market History Revealed

What is the “fiscal cliff”?

Politics / Government Spending Nov 16, 2012 - 08:31 AM GMT

By: Global_Research

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticlePatrick Martin writes: The term “fiscal cliff,” first used by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last February, refers to the simultaneous expiration of tax cuts and imposition of spending cuts on January 1, 2013.

The American media has seized on the term “fiscal cliff” and promoted it, in part, to suggest that measures which would otherwise be enormously popular—ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy or cutting military spending—are threatening, even dangerous.


The main purpose of the media propaganda about the impending “cliff” is to create a sense of financial emergency and override popular opposition to measures the Obama administration and congressional Democrats and Republicans will put forward to avert it, including sweeping cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

This is bolstered by the reaction in the financial markets, where a sharp sell-off could well serve as a political club to ensure that the policies demanded by Wall Street are adopted in Washington.

Far from an emergency that requires dramatic action to slash the federal deficit, the various components of the “fiscal cliff” are all consequences of legislation passed at various times during the Obama administration and can be averted by the passage of further legislation by Congress, regardless of whether that legislation adds to or subtracts from the deficit.

Deficit reduction is not a requirement of any previous legislation, but a political mandate from the financial aristocracy, which is demanding that its two political parties take joint action to make working people pay for a fiscal crisis that is the product of the 2008 Wall Street crash and the trillions expended to bail out the banks and corporations.

That the deadline is January 1, 2013 is politically revealing. In each of the bipartisan agreements between the Obama White House and congressional Republicans and Democrats—in December 2010, August 2011 and February 2012—the two parties acted deliberately to push back the decision until after the November 2012 elections, in order to prevent the American people from having any say on the measures to be enacted.

The same considerations were at work in the August 2011 agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, which was increased from $14.3 trillion to $16.4 trillion, a level the Treasury is expected to hit early in 2013, perhaps as soon as mid-February. This will provide an additional pretext for the two big business parties to enact further spending cuts, or it may become part of the proposed “grand bargain” between the Obama administration and congressional leaders.

There are at least seven distinct tax and spending measures that will take effect at the end of the year, with a significant effect on the jobs and living standards of the vast majority of the American people. The estimate produced by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington think tank, places the total impact at $732 billion.

Expiration of the Bush tax cuts—$202 billion
The largest item is the expiration of the tax cuts first enacted under the Bush administration in 2001, originally to expire January 1, 2011. A deal between Obama and the congressional Republican leadership in December 2010 extended these tax cuts for two years, to January 1, 2013, as Obama capitulated to the refusal of the Republicans to accept any separation between the tax cuts for the wealthy and those for lower- and middle-income families. The deal also extended estate taxes at the low rate that prevailed in 2009.

The same issue is posed in the talks between the White House and Congress set to begin formally this Friday, with Obama again claiming to oppose any extension of the tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year or individuals making more than $200,000 a year. These upper-income tax cuts alone account for $52 billion of the total.

Drawing such an income line would require passage of legislation by both the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House. If Congress deadlocks or Obama vetoes an extension, the tax cuts would expire for all income levels and the average working class family would see a significant reduction in take-home pay.

Across-the-board spending cuts—$128 billion
Spending cuts totaling close to $1 trillion over ten years will begin in January, with the specific programs to be selected by the Obama administration based on a 50-50 split between domestic and military programs. These cuts were part of the August 2011 deal between the White House and congressional Republicans to raise the federal debt ceiling.

This agreement enacted spending cuts of more than $1 trillion and provided for an additional $1 trillion in automatic cuts if a special congressional committee failed to reach agreement on further deficit-reduction. The so-called supercommittee deadlocked in December 2011, triggering the cuts that begin taking effect this January.

These include $50 billion in delayed impact from the initial round of cuts and $78 billion more in the so-called “sequester.”

Expiration of payroll tax cut—$115 billion
The payroll tax that underwrites Social Security and Medicare was temporarily cut from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent in December 2010, and that cut was extended through the end of this year in February 2012. The expiration of this tax cut will be felt as a 3.1 percent reduction in income for low- and middle-income families, more than the typical pay increase. It will mean a significant drop in real income.

Expiration of extended unemployment benefits—$39 billion
These benefits were coupled to the payroll tax cut as “stimulus” measures in both the December 2010 and February 2012 bipartisan agreements, but in the second deal the Democrats accepted a Republican demand to reduce the duration of extended benefits from 99 weeks to the current 73 weeks for the hardest-hit states, and from 93 weeks to only 63 weeks for most states.

Now, even this inadequate level of benefits for the long-term unemployed is set to end, under conditions where more than five million workers have been out of work for six months or longer. One million long-term unemployed workers who have exhausted all state benefits will lose their extended federal benefits January 1, and a further one million will lose benefits in the first quarter of 2013.

Expansion of the Alternative Minimum Tax—$114 billion
The AMT, first enacted in the 1960s as a measure against tax evasion by the super-rich, was never indexed for inflation, so tens of millions of upper-middle-income families could now come under its provisions. Congress has repeatedly adopted temporary “fixes” to delay imposition of the tax, most recently in December 2010, limited to taxes on 2011 income.

If another “fix” is not adopted, or the AMT is not fully indexed for inflation retroactively, the number of families required to pay the AMT will rise from four million to 30 million next year, sharply increasing the tax bills these families will pay for income earned in 2012.

Expiration of miscellaneous tax provisions—$120 billion
As many as 80 provisions of the 2009 stimulus legislation introduced by the Obama administration and enacted by a Democratic-controlled Congress, or adopted in subsequent deals in December 2010 and February 2012, have either expired this year or will expire January 1. Most of these are incentives to business—$109 billion—while a small fraction, about $11 billion, represents tax credits or expanded deductions for working families.

Mandated cuts in Medicare reimbursement—$14 billion
The 1997 Balanced Budget Act, negotiated by the Clinton administration and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, established what was titled the Medicare sustainable growth rate, or SGR, to restrain the growth of payments to health care providers under Medicare. The SGR provision has never actually been put into practice, as pressure from hospitals and the American Medical Association has induced Congress to enact repeated versions of one-time provisions known in Washington jargon as the “doc fix.”

The most recent versions were incorporated into the December 2010 and February 2012 bipartisan agreements under the Obama administration. The latest one expires on January 1, 2013. If the much lower ceiling is imposed, with Medicare reimbursement cut by 27 percent, many doctors and hospitals may stop accepting new Medicare patients and even phase out treating current patients.

World Socialist Web Site

Global Research Articles by Patrick Martin

© Copyright Patrick Martin, Global Research, 2011

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.


© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014