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Fiscal Cliff

December 31, 2012 | By Hector Tobar
As the country stood perched on a “fiscal cliff,” legions of word lovers stood up and declaimed “Enough!” It's not their taxes they were angry about. No, they were angry with that odd, melodramatic metaphor itself, and how overused it is. “[We've] lost sight of the metaphor and started to think it's a real place, like with the headline, 'Obama, Boehner meeting on fiscal cliff,' " Barry Cochran of Portland, Ore., wrote to Michigan's Lake Superior State University, which each year compiles a list of overused words and expressions.
March 21, 2013 | By David Horsey, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
This week, realizing that government actually does do some things people like, senators in both parties tried to undo some of the damage wrought by the sequester/fiscal cliff debacle. Their efforts were quickly undone, however, by the chronic dysfunction of the United States Congress.  Attempts were made to restore White House tours, maintain an efficient number of meat inspectors, keep up sane staffing of airport control towers, provide tuition help for members of the armed forces, undo cuts to military maintenance and take back many of the other across-the-board cuts that came about when the lawmakers failed to avert the $85 billion in automatic reductions that kicked in on March 1. In the end, though, fixing even the most idiotic cuts was put off so that yet another irresponsible political move could be avoided: shutting down the government.
November 20, 2012 | By Pat Benson
The "fiscal cliff" is coming, unless Congress acts soon. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned Tuesday that President Obama and Congress must act promptly to avoid possibility of plunging the United States into recession again. He said the Fed doesn't have any magic bullets if a compromise isn't found to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases starting in January. Quiz: How much do you know about the 'fiscal cliff'? Is economic austerity the only answer?
February 26, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times
The stock market suffered its worst drubbing of the year as investors grew worried about deepening fiscal gridlock in Washington and renewed political instability in Europe. The Dow Jones industrial average sank more than 216 points, a sign that the market's strong advance early in the year is giving way to doubts about whether stock prices got ahead of economic underpinnings. It is an abrupt change from last week, when investors were expecting the stock market to hit record highs.
December 5, 2012 | By Melanie Mason
One of the biggest outside spenders in the 2012 election has turned its focus to the "fiscal cliff" debate. Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit founded in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove, released a new ad Wednesday slamming President Obama's opening bid in the negotiations to avert year-end tax increases and spending cuts. The spot says the president's plan -- which closely hews to his 2013 budget proposal -- offers "a huge tax increase" and "no real spending reforms.
December 11, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu
American small business owners are in a sour mood, with optimism at one of its lowest levels since 1986, but don't blame Superstorm Sandy. It's the fiscal cliff's fault, according to a new report from the National Federation of Independent Business. The threat of major spending cuts and tax hikes in the new year has caused a forward-looking gauge of Main Street sentiment to plummet. The election and the looming implementation of President Obama's health coverage overhaul is also weighing on small business owners, according to the report.
December 26, 2012 | By Morgan Little
WASHINGTON -- Americans are increasingly doubtful that Congress and the White House will reach a budget deal as the deadline to the "fiscal cliff" approaches, according a new poll, though more said they still think a compromise will eventually be formed out of the fight.   According to Gallup , just 50% of those polled said they think President Obama and Congress are at least somewhat likely to reach a budget compromise, down from a high of 59% on Dec. 9. An increasing number, 48%, said they see no resolution before a deadline of Jan. 1.   The cliff, that self-imposed deadline set in place last year to force a deal on government expenditures and revenues, would institute broad spending cuts across government programs and allow President George W. Bush's tax cuts to expire.
December 31, 2012 | By Paul West
WASHINGTON - As negotiators closed in on a tax-and-spending deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,”  President Obama delivered a nationally televised plea Monday for a final push by Congress in the hours remaining before midnight Monday when taxes are set to increase. “They're close, but they're not there yet,” Obama said, referring to bipartisan talks led by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The president added, “if there's one second left” before Congress has to act, “they will use that last second.” Among the issues left to be resolved, he said, confirming earlier news reports, is an agreement that would delay across-the-board spending cuts, which would otherwise go into effect on Wednesday.
December 19, 2012 | By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO - Vicky Geron's restaurant a few blocks from the gates of the naval base here and the 86-acre Nassco shipbuilding yard depends on the weekday lunch crowd, split evenly between sailors and defense contractors. Geron said her recession-battered Mexican eatery in this industrial stretch of the Barrio Logan neighborhood could be closed down if the country fails to avoid the "fiscal cliff" - the triggering of automatic defense cuts along with tax hikes - because no deal was reached on the federal budget.
December 16, 2012 | Doyle McManus
It's no secret that Senate Republicans, led by John McCain, took aim at Susan Rice. The only question is, why? It wasn't primarily her views on foreign policy; Rice and McCain actually aren't that far apart on many issues. (They both pressed for U.S. intervention in Libya's civil war, for example.) Officially, the GOP crusade against Rice was over her statements on what Washington calls simply "Benghazi," the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate that left four Americans dead. But the controversy over Rice's recitation of White House talking points on Sunday television shows was flimsy at best.
February 26, 2013 | By David Lauter
A majority of Americans think the automatic government spending cuts that are set to begin taking effect Friday will do more harm than good, a new poll indicates, but few say they are paying much attention to the issue, and most do not expect the cuts to have a major impact on their personal finances. The relative lack of attention to the cuts, known as "the sequester," contrasts with the high amount of interest the public showed in the last round of the budget standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans -- the year-end “fiscal cliff.” Four in 10 Americans said in December that they were closely following news about the fiscal cliff, but only one-quarter say that about the current budget fight, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center.
February 21, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton
Two-fifths of the elderly spend more than they earn, often forcing them to dip into savings to pay bills, according to a new study. Among those 65 and older, 40% shell out more on housing, medical care and other costs than they take in from Social Security, pensions and other sources, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. An additional 14.3% of that age group spend more than 75% of their incomes on regular expenses, leaving little cushion for unexpected financial setbacks, the study showed.
February 15, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- The bipartisan heads of the federal commission that pushed a sweeping deficit reduction plan in 2011 urged President Obama and Congress to stop playing "small ball" in dealing with the nation's debt. Instead, policymakers should compromise to reach a bold agreement to cut spending and raise revenue, said Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. "Our generation created this mess, and it's our generation's responsibility to clean it up together," they wrote in an opinion article in Politico.
February 8, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
The beleaguered U.S. Postal Service can't seem to catch a break. Just two days after announcing it would cease Saturday delivery of first-class mail later this year, the agency Friday announced it lost $1.3 billion during the last three months of 2012.  The October through December time frame is traditionally the postal service's strongest financial quarter because of the holiday shipping season. While package delivery was up 4% from the year-earlier period, that was not enough to buffer that $1.3 billion net loss.
February 8, 2013 | by Walter Hamilton
Don't worry if you haven't received your expected IRS tax refund. Most people haven't -- and the fiscal cliff is to blame. The Internal Revenue Service is far behind its normal pace in processing federal tax returns and mailing billions of dollars in refunds, according to a new report. Through Feb. 3, the agency sent out only about $4.3 billion in refunds, according to the analysis by Nicolas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group in new York. That's far behind the $26.9 billion in refunds issued at this point in 2012.
February 7, 2013 | By Michael A. Memoli
LANSDOWNE, Va. -- President Obama previewed his State of the Union speech themes during a pep talk to House Democrats on Thursday, while framing the fiscal battles with Congress in familiar terms as he called for an end to "governance by crisis. " Obama told his party's House members that in his address to Congress next Tuesday he would outline an agenda for economic growth that ensures all Americans can thrive, balancing further deficit reduction efforts with needed investments to grow the economy.
November 14, 2012 | By Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Paul D. Ryan returned to Congress on Tuesday, his political star rising even if his political future remains uncertain. The Wisconsin congressman and GOP vice presidential nominee has dismissed talk of a 2016 presidential run, saying Americans are tired of politics, and he described the "shock" of losing on election night as a "foreign experience. " For now, he is retaking his perch on the House Budget Committee, the venue that launched him into the presidential campaign as Mitt Romney's running mate and which also produced the austerity blueprint that defines the Republican Party.
December 26, 2012 | By Alexandra Le Tellier
Feeling guilty about overspending this holiday season? Stop. Not only did your role as a consumer help the economy -- though, as a whole, we could have done better and might have if we weren't so freaked about going over the "fiscal cliff" -- but spending money is good for your well-being. Does that mean money actually can buy happiness? Absolutely, reports AsapSCIENCE -- if it's spent the right way. “Instead of buying things for yourself, try giving some of it to other people and see how you feel,” says the narrator in the Dec. 20 AsapScience video.
February 1, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel
NEW YORK -- The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007, as stocks continue a rally this year. The Dow gained 149.21 points, or 1.08%, to close at 14,009.79 in trading Friday. Stocks were lifted Friday by a host of data pointing to a continued recovery in the U.S. economy.  The federal government reported early Friday the economy added 157,000 jobs in January, as the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%. Manufacturing, consumer confidence and construction data also boosted optimism.
January 31, 2013 | By Alana Semuels
NEW YORK -- As 2012 ended and businesses and employees alike waited for Congress to resolve the crisis over the so-called fiscal cliff, many did what any good businessperson would do. Not knowing how much tax rates would go up, or whether Congress would allow a temporary payroll tax cut to expire, they did the most expedient thing for their wallets (if not for the government's coffers): they paid themselves early. That's according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which says that personal income jumped 2.6% in December and 1.0% in November, after staying mostly flat for many of the previous months.
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