Smaller check? Don't blame us - (www.money.cnn.com) Payroll taxes will go up thanks to the fiscal cliff, and that's tough to explain to workers. Everyone's paycheck is about to take a hit, and it's not the boss' fault. But some business owners say it's a tough talk to have. The rate of workers' payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, has been 4.2% for the past two years. As of Jan. 1, it's back to 6.2%, on the first $113,700 in wages. That forced Mike Brey, who owns four Hobby Works shops near Washington, D.C., to notify his store managers about the upcoming change during a conference call Monday. He called the experience uncomfortable. "These are the people who can least afford it," Brey said. Brey said he can't raise compensation to ease the pain. Enduring the recession meant cutting his own salary, firing workers, taking on half a million dollars in debt and raiding his own 401(k).
Latvia Accepts Austerity, and Its Pain Eases - (www.cnbc.com) When a credit-fueled economic boom turned to bust in this tiny Baltic nation in 2008, Didzis Krumins, who ran a small architectural company, fired his staff one by one and then shut down the business. He watched in dismay as Latvia's misery deepened under a harsh austerity drive that scythed wages, jobs and state financing for schools and hospitals. But instead of taking to the streets to protest the cuts, Mr. Krumins, whose newborn child, in the meantime, needed major surgery, bought a tractor and began hauling wood to heating plants that needed fuel. Then, as Latvia's economy began to pull out of its nose-dive, he returned to architecture and today employs 15 people — five more than he had before. "We have a different mentality here," he said.
Senate's "fiscal cliff" bill adds $4 trillion to deficits: CBO - (www.reuters.com) The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday said Senate-passed legislation to avert the "fiscal cliff" would add nearly $4 trillion to federal deficits over a decade, largely because it would extend low tax rates for almost all Americans. The congressional scorekeeper's analysis was released as a number of Republicans in the House of Representatives voiced opposition to the bill, and considered amending it with deeper spending cuts. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and others complained the bill's spending cuts would do little to curb trillion-dollar deficits.
U.S. "kicks can" towards "fiscal abyss": Xinhua - (www.reuters.com) The last-minute U.S. deal over tax increases has fixed one problem, but the world's largest economy must get to grips with a budget deficit that threatens not a "fiscal cliff" but a "fiscal abyss", China's Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday. The state news agency said in a commentary, issued in English on its website, that while the United States was clearly the dominant economic power, it "simply cannot live on borrowed prosperity forever", and its politicians seemed reluctant to tackle its total debt of about $16 trillion. "In a democracy like the United States, tax increases and spending cuts, the exact dose of medicine needed to cure its chronic debt disease, have long proved hugely unpopular among voters," Xinhua said.
GARTMAN: The Fiscal Cliff Deal Is Anti-Marriage And Obama Has Got Us One Step Closer To Socialism - (www.businessinsider.com) "The Left has won." Dennis Gartman, publisher of The Gartman Letter wasn't too happy with the deal. First he criticized it for being overtly anti-marriage, second, he said it failed to tackle the "egregious lack of discipline on spending" and said President Obama was leading the country towards socialism. Finally, he was also critical of the fact that this bill originated in the Senate, whereas he writes, "according to the Constitution all fiscally related legislation must originate in the House". Here is his take on the fiscal cliff deal: "We’ve no great disagreement with the legislation as it stands except for the fact that this is an overtly anti- marriage decision and therefore manifestly discriminatory on its face and there is of course a marked lack of spending cuts and as we all know the problem with the US fiscal deficit is not one of revenue but is one of egregious lack of discipline on spending. Regarding the former concern, unmarried up-income couples will have their taxes held at current levels while upper-income married couples with the same incomes will see their taxes raised materially. Even the French Supreme Court has found that wrong.