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What is the fiscal cliff?

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The fiscal cliff is a term coined by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to describe a set of laws expiring December 31, 2012 that will result in major spending cuts and tax increases that will affect every American.

Among the laws set to expire are: payroll tax cuts and Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy. Simultaneously, spending will be cut across the board as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

This 19.63% increase in tax revenue and 0.25% reduction in spending in 2013 is projected to cut the US deficit by roughly half (about $600 billion). While that sounds good in theory, economists warn that it could have a negative effect on the economy in the short term.
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