Captain Rick: The term “Fiscal Cliff” was coined by Ben Bernanke, 14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, in his testimony before the House in February 2012. President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 in August of 2011. It provided that if the joint selected “Super Committee” did not produce bipartisan legislation, across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases would take place on January 2, 2013. That committee was not able to reach agreement and thus $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases will take place in January 2013, unless congress and the president agree to a compromise. As of this date, a compromise seems unlikely. And that is good…because anything congress does to water down the “Fiscal Cliff” will haunt us all for years to come. I welcome you to follow this continuing story as I present why the “Fiscal Cliff” could have been better labeled as the “Fiscal Slope” to better economic times. In the mean time, I present the history of the “Fiscal Cliff”:
Fiscal Cliff Historic Timeline
March 23, 2010: President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of this law’s provisions is to impose new taxes on families making $250,000 per year or more starting in 2013.
December 17, 2010: Obama signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, patching the AMT through 2011 and extending the Bush tax cuts to the end of 2012.
August 2, 2011: The President signed the Budget Control Act of 2011. This act provided that, if the Joint Select Committee did not produce bipartisan legislation, across-the-board spending cuts would take effect on January 2, 2013. The Budget Control Act of 2011 was enacted due to the failure of the 111th Congress to pass a Federal Budget and therefore as a compromise to resolve a dispute concerning the public debt ceiling. Deficit spending previously appropriated by Congress was bringing the federal government’s total debt close to the statutory ceiling. Republicans in Congress refused to approve an increase in the ceiling unless there were deep spending cuts in order to come closer to a balanced budget and reduce the amount of national debt that was accruing. The Budget Control Act included an immediate increase in the debt ceiling. It also provided for automatic spending cuts to begin on January 2, 2013. The year-over-year changes for fiscal years 2012–2013 include a 19.63% increase in tax revenue and 0.25% reduction in spending. These changes would return tax revenue to approximately its historical average of 18% GDP, while continuing to spend at dollar levels held approximately the same since 2009. Some major programs, like Social Security, Medicaid, federal pay (including military pay and pensions), and veterans’ benefits, are exempted from the spending cuts. Spending for federal agencies and cabinet departments would be reduced through broad, shallow cuts referred to as budget sequestration.
February 22, 2012: Obama signed into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extended the following provisions until December 31, 2012: the 2% Social Security payroll tax cut, federal unemployment benefits and the freeze on Medicare physician payments.
February 29, 2012: Ben Bernanke popularized the term “fiscal cliff” in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.
July 3, 2012: IMF head Lagarde warned that the threat of “going over the fiscal cliff” could weaken the US economy. The IMF also reduced its projection for US growth in 2013 from 2.4 to 2.25 percent of GDP.
July 17, 2012: Bernanke pushed Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, warning that a failure to do so will further dampen the sluggish economic recovery.
July 25, 2012: the U.S. Senate voted 51–48 to pass a bill supporting the President’s tax proposal which extended cuts for most taxpayers, while rejecting the Republican proposal of extending the tax cuts for all 45–54.
August 1, 2012: The U.S. House of Representatives rejected the President’s tax proposal, 170–257.
July 31, 2012: Reid and Boehner agreed on a continuing resolution that would pay for the day-to-day running of the government until the end of March 2013. This does not affect the fiscal cliff or the debt-ceiling.
August 7, 2012: Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, which directed his administration to detail in 30 days how they plan to implement the automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act.
September 14, 2012: Obama released his 400-page document detailing cuts: http://cdn.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/pdfs_edit/091412cc1.pdf
October 22, 2012: At the third of three presidential debates, Obama says sequestration will not happen.
November 16, 2012: US leaders announced that they met to discuss the fiscal cliff and perhaps develop an approach that would be ready to present the week of November 26, 2012.
November 30, 2012: Obama is supporting an undeclared amount of spending cuts, $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over ten years, and cuts of $400 billion from Medicare and other benefit programs over a decade. Also, Obama wants to include “an extension of the 2 percentage point payroll tax cut” and spend “at least $50 billion” in 2013 “to boost the economy.”
Captain Rick: Obama’s desire to extend the 2% Social Security payroll tax cut is very wrong! Thankfully the “Fiscal Cliff” will kill this very stupid and reckless tax cut that has been raiding Social Security funds for the past several years.
December 2012: The U.S. Congress and President Obama remain in a stalemate…and that is good…because anything congress does to water down the “Fiscal Cliff” will haunt America for decades to come.
I welcome you to follow this continuing story as I present why the “Fiscal Cliff” could have been better labeled … the “Fiscal Slope” to better economic times.