Fiscal Cliff Notes
Defense Cuts Ignored in Cliff Talks
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 10:39am
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Defense advocates are manning their battle stations, worried that sequestration cuts have been "overshadowed" by the tax debate in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Many in the national security realm fear that nothing will be done to avoid the scheduled $55 billion in automatic cuts slated for next year.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, and a member of the Armed Services Committee, said the issue isn't being addressed at all.

“I thought the president said during the campaign that sequestration wasn’t going to happen. … We’ve heard nothing from anybody on it,” Brown told Politico. “We should have been working on it long before we got back. … It’s shameful that we’re not working on it.” Brown doesn’t have a seat in the 113th Congress, but the military still has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill. Read more at Politico

FEDERAL AGENCIES READY LAYOFFS    Budget tightening stands to affect more than 1,200 programs and federal agencies are quietly getting ready for the cuts. Top officials are already planning for layoffs, postponing payments to states, delaying new contracts, and shifting money to more critical duties.
 A new report by Rep. Norm Dicks, D- Wa, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, found the Department of Homeland Security would lose 24,500 jobs, the U.S. Border Patrol would let go of 6,800, and the Transportation Security Administration would need to fire another 7,240.  -  Read more at The New York Times

NEITHER PLAN STAVES OFF DANGERS OF A DOWNGRADE So far, the offers from the White House and Speaker John Boehner fall short of stabilizing the debt and would put the U.S. credit rating at a risk of downgrade, The Hill reports.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Obama’s plan would reduce the debt from nearly 75 percent of GDP to 73 percent of GDP by 2022, while Boehner’s offer gets the percentage to 72 percent. But experts say a debt-to-GDP ratio above 70 percent is considered in the "danger zone" for an eventual European style debt crisis. -  Read more at The Hill

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Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.