What is the 'fiscal cliff?'

Published On: Nov 09 2012 11:50:09 AM EST   Updated On: Dec 31 2012 08:28:08 AM EST

Confused by all this talk of a "fiscal cliff" and what it means to you? As lawmakers in Washington try to beat tonight's deadline, here are some answers.

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How did we get here? -- One could trace its origins back to the 1960s and the creation of the Alternative Minimum Tax. Then in 2001, President George W. Bush signed the first of two tax cuts scheduled to expire under the next president. Then, President Barack Obama twice extended those tax cuts and added his own, including a huge break on payroll taxes. In 2011, Republicans insisted on trillions in spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling under the Budget Control Act.


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