"Plan B" is Dead; What's Next for "Fiscal Cliff"?
The Senate is in session today before recessing until Dec. 27; both the president and Reid will attend a memorial service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, so action between the two, if any, would begin this afternoon at the earliest.
Over the "cliff"?
The only way to reach a deal may be to let the nation go over the "cliff." When that happens, the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts will mean that taxes on nearly all Americans will go up. That fact would seem to make it easier for House Republicans to back a "fiscal cliff" deal, since they would be voting for a tax cut, not a tax hike.
But going over the "cliff" could have significant consequences. To be clear, the "cliff" is actually more of a slope: The $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts are phased in over a decade - it's not the immediate punch to the cut that "cliff" implies - and there are budgetary maneuvers that can at least somewhat soften the blow of both the tax hikes and spending cuts. But going over the "cliff" could spook the markets and once again shake world perceptions of the ability of the U.S. government to function effectively. And if a deal is not reached relatively soon after the deadlilne, the $500 billion in tax hikes and $200 billion in spending cuts in the first year will likely start pushing the nation back into recession.
How will the markets react?
Many eyes will be on Wall Street to see how it reacts to the growing realization that the over the "fiscal cliff" scenario may be closer to reality than anyone hoped.
Things were not looking up early this morning: Asian markets across the board closed slightly down for the day after news of the "Plan B" withdrawal broke.