Listen closely and you can hear the sounds of a “fiscal cliff” deal NOT coming together. The first week of the lame-duck Congress brought multiple pledges of bipartisan cooperation from President Obama and congressional Republican and Democratic leaders. But there has been very little – if any – movement in the two sides’ positions, which, in fact, may be hardening prior to the serious negotiating sessions expected to begin after Thanksgiving.
The 112th Congress reconvenes Nov. 13 with nothing less than the fate of the U.S. economy on the line.
In play in November and December: the expiring Bush tax cuts, an expanding alternative minimum tax poised to capture more and more middle class taxpayers, the expiring payroll tax cut that has been a boon to middle class households during the recession, cuts in physician reimbursements under Medicare, and the looming budget “sequestration,” which will automatically cut just under $50 billion in federal spending beginning in January and $500 billion over 10 years.