Fiscal cliff: A lot more than expiring tax rates

Update: Senator Ron Johnson's office contacted FOX 11 News on Friday (12/28) to say the senator was in Washington, D.C. on Thursday (12/27) and preparing for any votes.
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A little refresher course on the fiscal cliff: If no deal is reached, a combination of tax rate increases and spending cuts will take effect on January 1st.

Taxes would jump $2,400 a year for families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 according to the Tax Policy Center.

In addition, about $110 billion in spending cuts would affect federal departments; about 8 percent of their annual budgets. 

There's a lot more than taxes that could be affected if we go over the so-called "fiscal cliff." Some are a part of our daily lives.

One thing at stake is the two percent temporary Social Security payroll tax cut. Most Americans receive it. But the cut is set to expire – and might still, even if a deal is reached. President Obama has backed away from prolonging it.

Social Security checks could grow more slowly. A proposal to change the calculation of cost of living would affect retirees, veterans' benefits and government pensions.

Those without jobs could also feel the affects of going off the “fiscal cliff.”

Two million jobless Americans could lose their extended federal unemployment benefits. The president wants to continue the benefits. Republicans say it costs too much.

Spending budget cuts will touch nearly all federal departments – from the military and weather forecasting to agriculture. Another impact is one that many might not realize: the so-called “dairy cliff.” The price of milk could double, possibly reaching up to seven dollars per gallon.

And if you’re one of those people who like to file your tax returns early, you could be held up – waiting to see if the minimum tax rate changes.

Some experts say waiting until the witching hour is political jockeying and both sides aren't all that far apart from a deal.

“This may go on for a few days,” said Michael Kraft, a political science professor with the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. “Yet meanwhile – behind the scenes – we don't know what's going on. We don't know what conversations are taking place and what bargains are being struck – but I'm pretty sure there's something going on."

So where are our congressional members who have a hand in whether or not the U.S. goes over?

Retiring Senator Herb Kohl returned to Washington Thursday afternoon for an expected vote; Senator Ron Johnson's office wouldn't confirm if he was in the nation's capitol – but would only say a Senate vote is expected and to check the roll.

Offices for Representatives Reid Ribble and Tom Petri say both men are with family, but are monitoring events.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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