A dreaded crag loomed over 2012. Pundits and politicians were obsessed with a “fiscal cliff,” a foreseen change in the government’s financial policies they feared could harm the economy. After Congress reached a debt-ceiling deal in the summer of 2011, a “super committee” was tasked with identifying additional places that the budget could be nipped and tucked. If that bipartisan group of legislators failed to come to an agreement, which they did, automatic across-the-board cuts would be triggered. Those were set to go into effect in January 2013; tax cuts were set to expire around the same time; and Congress had to deal with other fiscal business that legislators punted to post-election days. The unknown repercussions and size of the resulting fiscal cliff caused constant hand-wringing in the latter half of the year, as people waited to see if Congress—and whoever the President might be—would steer America away from the drop-off.
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