Buzzword 2012.7 Fiscal Cliff

The fiscal cliff. I was saving this buzz word for later in the year. However, I've heard the phrase so many times today it must be the post-election day equivalent of attack ads. Since reading the paper and turning on the radio this morning I've heard the phrase at least once every hour (I'm listening to NPR). So far, only Terri Gross has spared me.

What is it? The fiscal cliff is the well-branded combination of automatic budget cuts and tax hikes set to go into effect on January 1, 2013. This is what our esteemed representatives signed off on when they couldn't reach an agreement but had backed themselves up against a debt limit ceiling. It's a self-imposed, self-exploding deadline of financial decisions that is intended to make politicians work together to avoid it.

Wait for it...you'll hear about it on the news any second now. Expect it to dominate all poltiical coverage from now until December 31st. If anything has actually changed in Washington, the House and Senate will do something about it.  Whether they do or don't you'll hear about it.

What does it have to do with philanthropy? Lots. One of the tax cuts set to expire is the estate tax. The domestic spending cuts it would set off would have big implications for social services across the country. The uncertainty it creates is one of those fail-safe 4:05 pm excuses reasons given to explain why the stock market went down or sideways (not up).

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