The first eight days of Congress and the President’s fiscal cliff negotiations have not exactly inspired confidence. As RH Reality Check pointed out last week, the fiscal cliff is a concocted concept, or at best an exaggerated concept, referring to the effective end-date of put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act. This law requires an end to Bush era tax cuts, Obama’s payroll tax cuts, and, extended unemployment benefits. More significantly, the law also requires sequestration -- or automatic, across-the-board cuts to a number of federal programs.
But even if the fiscal cliff is a concocted or exaggerated concept, its possible impact on social programs is very real. To avoid these automatic tax increases and sequestration, Obama and Congress are working on an agreement about what types of tax reform and spending cuts should take effect -- all in order to raise revenue and begin to aggressively manage the national debt. Obama’s initial and fairly specific offer of tax reform and proposed spending cuts was met with a vague counter offer from Republicans. Led by House Majority Leader John Boehner, Republicans said they’d be willing to put "$800 billion in pro-growth tax reform" that "closes special interest loopholes and lowers rates." There weren't enough specifics to their plan, as Josh Barro of the Bloomberg Ticker noted earlier this week, though House Republicans do seek to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and Medicaid and to avoid letting the Bush tax cuts expire.