Fulfilling pessimistic expectations, Congress has decided to leave many of this year’s big fiscal decisions to be made in a few short weeks after the November elections.
Both the House and Senate have adjourned until after the elections. At that point lawmakers will face a long list of unfinished business, including what to do about the “fiscal cliff” -- the large automatic spending reductions and expiring tax cuts that are scheduled to begin going into effect in January.
Many economists have warned that allowing all of the elements of the fiscal cliff to happen at once could derail the economic recovery, and lawmakers in both parties say they want to find a way to delay or avoid at least some of those elements.
The automatic spending cuts -- also known as “sequestration” -- are required by last year’s Budget Control Act. They were designed as a draconian alternative to encourage congressional action to curb projected federal deficits, but lawmakers over the past year have failed to reach an agreement.
The Concord Coalition has urged elected officials to deal with the fiscal cliff in the context of a broader, bipartisan agreement on fiscal reform.
On Monday a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Senate leaders expressing concern about sequestration and saying they were “committed to working together to help forge a balanced bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid damage to our national security, important domestic priorities, and our economy. “