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Fiscal Cliff

The United States fiscal cliff was a situation that took place in January 2013 when several previously-enacted laws came into effect simultaneously, increasing taxes and decreasing spending. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which had been extended for two years by the 2010 Tax Relief Act, were scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012. Planned spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011 also came into play. That Act was passed as a compromise to resolve a dispute concerning the US debt ceiling and address the failure of the 111th Congress to pass a federal budget. Discretionary spending for federal agencies and cabinet departments would have been reduced through broad cuts referred to as budget sequestration. Mandatory programs, such as Social Security, Medicaid, federal pay and veterans' benefits would have been exempted from the spending cuts. The fiscal cliff would have increased tax rates and decreased government spending through sequestration.


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