US Lawmakers Attempt to Resolve Fiscal Stalemate

The U.S. is edging precipitously close to a "fiscal cliff" of sharp tax increases and spending cuts set for New Year's Day, even as the White House and congressional leaders try to broker a last-minute compromise.

Lawmakers are reconvening Monday -- the last day they have to reach agreement to avert higher taxes for most American workers and mandated government spending cuts that would take effect as the calendar turns to 2013. Without a deal, analysts say the austerity measures could plunge the U.S. into another recession   Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Mitch McConnell, the leader of the minority Republican caucus in the Senate, negotiated late into Sunday night on details of a compromise. But there was no apparent accord, including whether to delay the spending cuts that would curtail key defense and domestic programs.

The White House relented on two contentious disputes. It agreed to keep the current tax rates for wealthy couples earning up to $450,000 a year, a jump from its earlier demand calling for a tax hike for those making above $250,000, and also consented to a Republican demand for a Senate vote to keep taxes on large inheritances at their current level.

If an agreement among congressional leaders and the White House is reached, the Democratic-controlled Senate would likely vote first on it. But the legislation would still have to clear the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans who mostly oppose any tax increases. If both chambers approve a last-day compromise, President Barack Obama could sign the measure late Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday the divide between the fractious Democratic and Republican lawmakers was "significant," while McConnell said the sticking point appeared to be "a willingness, an interest or courage" to reach an agreement.

Resolution of tax and spending problems has long stymied U.S. leaders. In the current negotiations, congressional leaders and White House officials also are grappling with decisions on other key issues, including extension of unemployment benefits and possible cuts in payments to doctors who treat elderly Americans.

Debt ceiling

Even if a deal is reached, however, it is not likely to increase the U.S. government's current borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the nation's debt ceiling will be reached Monday. The ceiling is a cap on how much money the government can borrow to avoid defaulting on its debt.

Geithner says Treasury officials will take what he calls "extraordinary measures" under the law to avoid default.

The Congress and White House are then expected to negotiate a new limit in the next couple of months, although it, too, likely will produce a contentious debate about Washington's spending priorities.

fuente: La Voz de América,


Entradas populares de este blog

Colegio Alemán de Concepción: El Kiosco de la Honestidad.No tenía a nadie que lo atendiera, sino que son los mismos alumnos del colegio que compraban en modalidad de autoservicio, pagando individualmente el producto, dejando el dinero en un lugar destinado para ello.

Las 3 banderas de Chile