This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Much of our political oxygen is taken up with fiscal cliff negotiation and speculation in the United States as people try to figure out whether we will indeed go hurtling over into recession or inch back from the edge of the cliff. Since all our economies are linked in a global network these days, we thought we'd get the view of all of this from elsewhere.
New Year's Day typically inspires hope and new beginnings. But this next one may be cause for trepidation. Tax cuts for all income levels expire on Jan. 1, 2013, and most federal programs will face a 10 percent haircut — because Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
In Washington, lawmakers are trying to work out a deal to keep the economy from going over the fiscal cliff. Many economists predict those automatic tax hikes combined with deep spending cuts set to go into effect on New Year's Day would throw the economy back into recession.
A group of top CEOs has been urging lawmakers to reach a deal to keep that from happening. Mark Bertolini is one of them. He's CEO of the health insurer Aetna and he said tax increases are as important as spending cuts. We called him to talk more.
The 2012 general election may be slipping into the past, but elements of President Obama's successful campaign aren't likely to go away anytime soon.
Just as it did after the president's 2008 election, the Obama campaign appears very likely to keep alive parts of the grass-roots effort that contributed to victory. And, just like four years ago, the idea would be to use the corps of Obama organizers and volunteers to push for the president's second-term agenda.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned again that driving off the fiscal cliff could be detrimental to the U.S. economy. However, if a grand bargain is reached by politicians in Washington, Bernanke said during a speech a the Economic Club of New York, it could be a good new year for the U.S.