Lawmakers left a heavy air of uncertainty behind them in Washington this week. Just a handful of days remain until the new year, when the fiscal cliff triggers and automatic austerity measures and tax increases will begin taking affect. The result, as predicted by the Congressional Budget Office, business leaders, and economists could be renewed recession for the first-half of fiscal 2013.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, told CNN, “For the first time I feel it’s more likely that we will go over the fiscal cliff.” Lieberman is indicating a failed GOP revenue proposal and continuing political gamesmanship that has bogged down progress over the past few weeks. As the clock counts down, concerns grow.
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Congressional leaders have scrambled over the past few weeks to find a solution. Both parties in Washington began the discussion firmly entrenched in radically different positions: the GOP wanted substantial cuts to entitlements and no new taxes; Democrats wanted to increase revenue while protecting social programs.
Very early on both parties agreed that taxes should not go up on at least 98 percent of Americans who are not considered “wealthy.” President Barack Obama proposed letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those earning more than $250,000 per year, and after a few weeks of resistance Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) conceded to consider a tax increase on those making over $1 million per year.
Obama revised his offer to an income level of $400,000 or more, but in what has now become a widely-criticized move, the Speaker decided to stick to his guns and tried to push his proposal, called “Plan B,” through the House…