Over the fiscal cliff: Day One

January 1, 2013

The nation technically went over the “fiscal cliff” Tuesday morning despite a Senate tax deal that would delay deep automatic spending cuts for another two months and potentially set up a new round of congressional fights during the early part of this year.

The Senate agreement wouldn’t bring in enough new revenue to meet the deficit-reduction targets of the 2011 Budget Control Act even if the proposal passed the House, where Speaker John Boehner has promised to bring it to a vote in coming days.

An article by Rosalind Helderman breaks down what would likely take place with the fiscal-cliff spending cuts in the event that the House approves the tax deal. 

Basically, nothing is set in stone just yet. In fact, the $110-billion so-called sequestration plan isn’t set to kick in until Wednesday, giving Congress one more day to make a deal before officially triggering any reductions. 

Even without an agreement, the trimming wouldn’t start immediately. As Lisa Rein reported in December, the Budget Control Act gives agencies 30 days to figure out a plan for their tighter finances, and some cuts could be delayed until later in the fiscal year. Most civil servants won’t know their fate for awhile, regardless of what happens with the Senate tax deal. 

Lawmakers have also talked about developing a spending-reduction package during the expected late-winter fight over the federal debt ceiling, as Helderman reported last week.

Overall, federal workers will remain in limbo awhile longer when it comes to the fate of their jobs.  

American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox said Monday evening that he remained hopeful Congress and the White House could reach an agreement to avoid sequestration. “It won’t be doom and gloom [Tuesday] morning or Wednesday, but within 30 days, it will be a very slippery slope [affecting government workers].”

The Senate tax proposal would raise rates for wages and investment profits on taxpayers earning more than $450,000 per year and protect households earning less than $250,000 a year from income tax increases scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

For more Federal Eye, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks | December 31, 2012