Analysis: Economy would dodge bullet for now under fiscal deal

Tue Jan 1, 2013 7:26am EST
 
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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A deal worked out by Senate leaders to avoid the "fiscal cliff" was far from any "grand bargain" of deficit reduction measures.

But if approved by the House of Representatives, it could help the country steer clear of recession, although enough austerity would remain in place to likely keep the economy growing at a lackluster pace.

The Senate approved a last-minute deal early Tuesday morning to scale back $600 billion in scheduled tax hikes and government spending cuts that economists widely agree would tip the economy into recession.

The deal would hike taxes permanently for household incomes over $450,000 a year, but keep existing lower rates in force for everyone else.

It would make permanent the alternative minimum tax "patch" that was set to expire, protecting middle-income Americans from being taxed as if they were rich.

Scheduled cuts in defense and non-defense spending were simply postponed for two months.

Economists said that if the emerging package were to become law, it would represent at least a temporary reprieve for the economy. "This keeps us out of recession for now," said Menzie Chinn, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The contours of the deal suggest that roughly one-third of the scheduled fiscal tightening could still take place, said Brett Ryan, an economist at Deutsche Bank in New York.   Continued...

 
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (C) departs the senate floor with an aide after a senate vote in the early morning hours at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst