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Watch Out: More Fiscal Cliffs Ahead

If the House passes the Senate's bill, it's not all smooth sailing ahead
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2013 7:55 AM CST

(Newser) – If you think you'll be done hearing about the fiscal cliff or anything like it should the House pass the Senate's cliff deal, CNNMoney has bad news for you: "three more cliff-like deadlines" loom in the first quarter. That's because the bill doesn't touch the debt ceiling and kicks the sequester can down the road. What you'll need to brace yourself for:

  • The debt ceiling: Another crisis isn't too far off—late February or early March. That's when the government, which hit the $16.394 trillion debt ceiling yesterday, will have finished eating through the roughly $200 billion of extra borrowing the Treasury Department has readied via "extraordinary measures." CNNMoney reminds us what happened last time around: S&P downgraded our credit rating, the stock market shuddered, and we wasted $1.3 billion in taxpayer dollars.

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  • Sequester: The bill that's now in the House's hands would kick the can down the road on $110 billion in automatic cuts to the budgets of the Pentagon and many domestic agencies. Next deadline? Two months.
  • The budget: The government is supposed to enact a new budget when the fiscal year begins, on Oct. 1. But it's been years since that timeline has been met, with Congress instead relying on "continuing resolutions," described by CNNMoney as a "fancy way of saying 'Band-Aid solution.'" The expiration date of the current "Band-Aid" is March 27.
And if we make it through those, we're still not done: Quartz writes that two more issues will pop up a year from now, per the new bill. The so-called "doctor cliff," the 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors, has been delayed a year. Jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed were extended for a year, and Quartz expects "America will still have a large cohort of long-term unemployed when the current extension expires." (Read more fiscal cliff stories.)

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