The fiscal cliff involves US$600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts effective in early 2013 if US lawmakers fail to agree on reducing the budget deficit.
How they see it, January 6, 2013
The battle for agreement on the fiscal cliff deal
The Americans may be proud of their mature democracy, but the political gridlock in Washington really looks ugly from an outsider's view. For most people outside the United States, it is ridiculous that the Republicans are so hostile to any tax increases and the Democrats to any spending cuts. It even looks absurd when a political party bases its policy options entirely on rigid ideology. Checks and balances are good for modern governments, but the bitter fighting between Democrats and Republicans far exceeded the reasonable need of good policy debate. … For US politicians, an outsider's advice is readily available: Forget about senseless partisan fighting and do whatever it takes to get the job done. (Beijing)
2. The New York Times
Republicans won more in the fiscal cliff deal than they had any right to expect. … Yet 64 per cent of House Republicans voted against it … citing a tired ideology about never raising anyone's taxes. If not for Speaker John Boehner's last-minute decision to let the bill pass without a Republican majority, everyone's taxes would have gone up. … The unwillingness of Boehner's caucus to join decisions for the common good suggests the 113th Congress will be bitterly unproductive. … Republicans say they are more determined to extract the maximum amount of budget-cutting pain in the next two months by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling. … A far more serious prospect than going over the fiscal cliff. (New York)
3. The Telegraph
The fiscal cliff was concocted by President Obama and Congress as a way of holding a gun to their own heads. The fixing of a deadline for the automatic imposition of tax rises and spending cuts was supposed to concentrate the minds of America's political leaders and force them into taking the difficult decisions required to start reeling in the country's truly terrifying levels of public debt. The stratagem failed. There has been no "grand bargain" … just a sticking-plaster settlement aimed at buying more time. … Sound familiar? … This refusal to face reality is damaging enough in the euro zone. In the United States it is infinitely more so. As the powerhouse of the world economy, America cannot continue to live in denial. (London)