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This is what the other side of the “fiscal cliff” looks like.

If President Obama and Congress fail to reach a deal to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars of tax hikes and federal spending cuts, many Americans will feel the pain with less money in their paychecks in the first week of the New Year.

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After two years of near-weekly meetings, countless conference calls, breakfasts, and dinners spent batting back and forth deficit-reduction ideas, the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators is shifting its focus, now that the deadline for a fiscal-cliff deal is just days away.

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The Federal Reserve met market expectations Wednesday with another round of easing, this time with a pledge to keep interest rates low until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent and inflation tops 2.5 percent.

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The question of how to replace the sequester — the $109 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending reductions set to start cutting into the budget at the start of the year — is emerging as a sharp point of conflict standing in the way of a fiscal cliff deal.

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Time is running short — and so are the options available to avert the fiscal cliff. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have just 21 days to resolve their differences over how to handle more than $500 billion in expiring tax rates and steep spending cuts.

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Presumably, Congress will soon find a permanent solution to the austerity that will keep the economy growing (or perhaps even speed it up a bit) next year while addressing the longer-term debt problem. That will be the end of this sorry period in American politics, in which Congress continuously set up ever-more draconian consequences to incent its future self to make the hard decisions its current self kept putting off.

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The White House and House Republicans need to stop posturing and lock themselves behind closed doors to hammer out a fiscal deal now, two budget experts said Monday.

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In the latest in a tit-for-tat between Capitol Hill and the White House to avert the fiscal cliff, House Republican leaders sent President Barack Obama a $2.2 trillion counteroffer on Monday — but it doesn’t hike tax rates on the wealthy or deal explicitly with tricky issues like the debt ceiling and the sequester.

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Sixteen of the nation’s largest financial services firms warned President Obama and Congress in a letter Thursday that interest rates could spike significantly if they do not come to an agreement to stop the series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”

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In failing to address the foolishness of present policy, candidates make a comprehensive response less likely

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Voters are very concerned about the impact of the fiscal cliff. Among those familiar with the fiscal cliff issue, 60% are at least very concerned, with one-quarter of likely voters (25%) saying they are extremely concerned.

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Center Forward will host a poll briefing on the release of its new poll on voter’s opinions about the upcoming fiscal cliff and the importance of the issue in the 2012 Election.

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