Third, other than receiving increasingly dire warnings, nothing bad has happened yet to force everyone to negotiate seriously.
The stock market has indeed gyrated since the fiscal cliff replaced the 2012 elections as the lead story in the news. But the day-to-day ups and downs have hardly been more than whatís been typical over the past year. Multiple CEOs and corporate interest groups have issued warnings about layoffs and lower profits if the cliff isnít avoided and have traveled to Washington to press their cases. But so far thatís been all talk and little action. And the warnings about higher taxes now come hourly rather than daily. But no oneís taxes have actually gone up, and the amounts withheld from our paychecks havenít yet changed.
And as surprising as it might be to those of us for which the fiscal cliff has become a reason for living, there still is great skepticism from those outside the Beltway about it ever actually happening. As a result, the voter uprising that many in Washington are expecting about the tax increases and spending cuts hasnít happened. In other words, no lawmaker and no one in the White House has yet suffered much politically from what has or, in this case, hasnít happened. That has made it easy for the negotiating to be slow-going.
The only thing that is likely to change any of this is the calendar. Without the intense pressure of the fiscal cliff actually happening, there seems to be little incentive for any serious negotiating to take place. A market drop or significant announced layoffs before Jan. 1 might change that. So, too, would a sudden realization by those who are still skeptical that the cliff might not be avoided after all.
But until that happens, you really canít say the fiscal cliff negotiations are at a standstill. The truth is they really havenít started yet.
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