Talk:United States fiscal cliff

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Questions for 2013[edit]

A couple of very broad-brush questions from someone who hasn't contributed a whit to this article:

  1. Should we merge this article into the Legislative History section of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012?
  2. Should we cut down major portions of this content, regardless of where it ends up? Much of it strikes me as WP:RECENTISM. You just don't see this level of detail for articles about passed legislation. And sections such as Effects and CBO Projections seem kind of moot at this point. --Nstrauss (talk) 09:29, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • No and no, in my view. This article has a much broader scope than does American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which is just about the law itself. This article contains the history of the whole debate regarding the cliff, whereas that article just contains the history around the day or two of its passage. Furthermore, the cliff debate goes on, and more legislation will have to be passed - the bill just passed only addresses the tax side of the equation, with the spending and debt side still to be dealt with. And while alternate proposals may seem moot now, they were part of the history around the debate, so in general I am not in favor of a major cut-down. Wasted Time R (talk) 12:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
All good points, I would just note that the fact that the ATRA article only contains "the history around the day or two of its passage" shouldn't be a justification for changing anything except broadening the scope of the legislative history section of that article. It's way too narrow at the moment. --Nstrauss (talk) 18:52, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree that WP:Recentism is an issues but it is also a recruitment tool for casual readers, who are looking at this article in large numbers. But, I agree with the assessment of Wasted Time R and the two articles should be separate. Also, the cliff is only delayed so it is still very recent and the timeline will have to be expanded. Geraldshields11 (talk) 14:56, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
It strikes me that it won't be long (a few months, perhaps?) before readers are coming to the subject matter more by way of the ATRA and other future legislation than by way of the fiscal cliff. For comparison, look at what happened during the 2010 lame duck session. It appears that our main account of what happened there is in the legislative history section of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Yes, there are sections on this over at the Bush tax cuts, but they're not nearly as extensive as what we have here. (By the way, if anyone wants to take a crack at it, the fiscal cliff section of that article needs major updating to reflect recent events; it looks like it hasn't been touched since August.) --Nstrauss (talk) 18:52, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
The United States fiscal cliff is a major article about US federal politics and Obama's first major political act of his second term. Over the next few weeks, we'll be converting the text of various articles (including the fiscal cliff section) to bring them in line with WP:Recentism. There's no rush; remember WP:10YT.
I'm more interested in what should be the name of the next major US political article in Wikipedia. Do you think that the new debt-ceiling debate and the new sequestration debate will be fought separately or together? If separate, the two articles can be named something like "2013 Debt-ceiling crisis" and "Sequestration debate". But, if they are intertwined, what will we call the combined article? --RoyGoldsmith (talk) 01:06, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
My gut reaction is that we should combine the upcoming debt ceiling crisis with the last one. Call it something like "Debt ceiling crises (2011 and 2013)". --Nstrauss (talk) 07:06, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

So rename under the Barack Hussein Obama Debt Crisis of 20XX with a page per year? Hcobb (talk) 22:20, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Is that intended as a snark or as a good faith proposal? --Nstrauss (talk) 22:46, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
His election seems to be well documented as the only reason for the sudden concern for the debt amongst a majority of GOP lawmakers. Hcobb (talk) 23:22, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
You didn't answer my question. --Nstrauss (talk) 23:40, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't see any alternative than to tie his name to it. The same trends were happening before him, but it didn't become a crisis until the buck stopped at his desk. If we went all ORy, then we'd have to draw the arc of the debt bubble starting from 2001. Hcobb (talk) 23:51, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
You still didn't answer my question. Until you do I'm going to stop assuming good faith. --Nstrauss (talk) 23:56, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Recharacterization of potential recession in lead[edit]

There was a [recent edit] which changed the characterization of the potential recession mentioned in the lead. I have some questions and comments about that edit:

  1. Why was the phrase "...followed by growth later in 2013" removed?
  2. Employment is a lagging indicator of macroeconomic activity and one of many indicators of a recession -- a few months after the start of a recession, the unemployment rate goes up. Other indicators include: GDP, investment spending, capacity utilization, household income, business profits, deflation, bankruptcies and others. It's redundant to mention any of those in conjunction with the recession, especially in the first paragraph where concision is demanded.

I think it was better stated as: "...would have likely led to a mild recession in early 2013 followed by growth later in 2013." Sparkie82 (tc) 02:15, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Not at all. The effect on employment specifically may be of general interest to the reader and the material is sourced. Regarding, "followed by growth later in 2013", that isn't what the source says. The source provided from the CBO states, "Such fiscal tightening will lead to economic conditions in 2013 that will probably be considered a recession, with real GDP declining by 0.5 percent between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013." Somedifferentstuff (talk) 07:39, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
First, that report you are citing is an old report issued last summer. We should work with the most current data available prior to the cliff. The most recent full report on the fiscal cliff was issued Nov. 8, 2012. Here is the unredacted first paragraph of the summary from that report:

Substantial changes to tax and spending policies are scheduled to take effect in January 2013, significantly reducing the federal budget deficit. According to CBO’s projections, if all of that fiscal tightening occurs, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will drop by 0.5 percent in 2013 (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013)—reflecting a decline in the first half of the year and renewed growth at a modest pace later in the year. That contraction of the economy will cause employment to decline and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. After next year, by the agency’s estimates, economic growth will pick up, and the labor market will strengthen, returning output to its potential level (reflecting a high rate of use of labor and capital) and shrinking the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent by 2018.

We need to boil all that down into a single sentence within the first paragraph of the article's lead. It says that they projected a mild recession in the first half of 2013 with a recover beginning later in 2013. The CBO statement also has specifics about GDP and employment. If we try to squeeze in all those specifics we end up with a monster sentence that says that there's a mild recession and lower GDP and lower employment starting in 2013 (except that the employment rate lags the general economy by a few months) and then a recovery and increased GDP later in 2013 and higher employment beginning in 2014.
As I said above, a recession implies all those other metrics. If we simply say that there was a projected mild recession followed by a recovery it accurately and concisely explains what the projection was. I'm not saying that all those details and more can't be included in the article, just not in the first paragraph. Sparkie82 (tc) 20:26, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
I disagree. The first paragraph isn't overly long and mentioning the estimate on unemployment isn't a problem. It's telling information and more relatable (less abstract) than GDP. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 22:55, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Okay. Now I better understand why you want to mention the change in employment. I'm I big fan of making things more understandable to more people. We also need to mention the recovery, too, or else it looks like we are applying POV to the characterization of the macroeconomic effects. So we must also mention that the projection was for a moderate recovery to the labor market after the uptick in the unemployment rate. As part of making the explanation more understandable and to avoid recentism, I suggest that we avoid providing a specific unemployment percentage rate. Ten or fifteen years from now when the unemployment rate is closer to 15-20%, a rate of 9% will sound like a low rate, when what we want to say it that the projection was for the unemployment rate to increase and then recover. Perhaps, for purposes of simplicity in the first paragraph and to make it easier for people to grasp, we could just mention the direction of movement for these economic indicators without specifying exact percentages which will eventually lose meaning over time. (We can go into more detail later in the article.) Sparkie82 (tc) 00:52, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
That "Okay" above means "Okay, I understand", not "Okay, I agree with your edit". I'd like you to take a crack at fixing your edit based on what I just said. If not, I'll go ahead and do it myself. (or anyone else can have a go at it...) Sparkie82 (tc) 05:56, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
It has been more than a week -- I rewrote the sentence to include the higher unemployment as well as the projected recovery per above discussion. Sparkie82 (tc) 19:03, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Suggesting a new section for 2013 debt ceiling debate[edit]

{{request edit}} I've noticed that this article doesn't provide much information on the 2013 debt-ceiling debate and I wonder if a section on this topic would be helpful for people looking for background about current events. Right now, readers are directed to this article from the United States debt-ceiling crisis, which focuses entirely on events from 2011, however this article doesn't actually have a lot of detail on the current debt ceiling debate.

To help with this I have prepared a new section to add to this article, if other editors think it's ok. I'd like to have this reviewed because I work for The Heritage Foundation and though I have not used any Heritage sources, I have referred to a piece co-written by Heritage Action for America's Michael Needham, and I'm aware that my adding this information directly might be seen by some as a conflict of interest.

Below is the text I'd like to add to the article. I'll keep an eye on this talk page in case there are any questions. I hope that another editor will be able to take a look at this and help me make this change. Thanks! Thurmant (talk) 19:15, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

Disagree. The looming debt ceiling crisis is related to the fiscal cliff but it's not part of the fiscal cliff. It logically fits better in its own article or in an article about debt ceiling crisEs (plural). Besides, the proposed language suffers from severe WP:NPV problems, since it gives much greater weight to Republican arguments than Democratic ones, and excludes some very notable comments by the Obama and others. Though I do appreciate you being upfront with the conflict of interest. --Nstrauss (talk) 19:54, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Nstrauss, thanks for commenting. I get your point about the current debt ceiling debate needing its own page. My suggestion here was based on the fact that readers are directed to this article for information on the debt ceiling crisis (see hatnote on United States debt-ceiling crisis article) and also that consensus reached here seemed to be that discussion of the debt ceiling debate should be kept in this article. I'm happy to consider other options, including creating a new page for this topic if there's consensus to do so.
On your other point, I'm not averse to adding other details as needed to make sure my draft is neutral and I also expect that others might have thoughts about information to add. Do you have specific information in mind that you think can be added to my draft? If you would like to add more, that's also fine with me. Thurmant (talk) 15:13, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it can be said that consensus was reached on putting such material in this article. There were only 2 editors in that discussion and RoyGoldsmith qualified his position as "very tentative" and only "if the debt ceiling is resolved by the same measures that resolve the fiscal cliff" (which of course it wasn't). So really, it was a lone editor's position taken well before House Republicans floated the idea of a 3-month can-kicking. As for the hatnote at the debt ceiling crisis article, see this discussion -- Geraldshields11 apparently agrees with me. --Nstrauss (talk) 18:23, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Every aspect of the "cliff" was set in motion by a previous debt ceiling debate, so I'd rather have this intertwined, rather that split into its own section. Hcobb (talk) 17:37, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

If we include everything in this article that was "set in motion" by responses to the fiscal cliff then this article will become a giant and unsightly amoeba. The stage for every budget negotiation is set by previous budget negotiations. Yes it's difficult to untangle them but that's the challenge we face. --Nstrauss (talk) 18:23, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Sorry if I'm a bit blunt here, but where should this information go? Currently you're saying it doesn't go in this article, meanwhile the editors on the debt ceiling article have voted to rename that page "United States debt-ceiling crisis of 2011", so the information clearly doesn't belong there. Right now there's nothing about this for readers who look up this topic on Wikipedia. I'm wary of just creating a new article myself, since I've never done so before and there were some issues raised with my proposed content. Does anyone have a solution? Thurmant (talk) 20:31, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
I certainly understand your conundrum. The issue has been floated in at least one discussion but AFAIK it hasn't gone anywhere. I'm no expert at such things but I suppose I'd recommend creating a new article which could then be merged into another article fairly easily if there's consensus to do so. --Nstrauss (talk) 20:50, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Ok, I've gone ahead and created a new article for this topic here: United States debt-ceiling crisis 2013 It's the first article I've created from scratch so I've borrowed the basic format and templates from the United States debt-ceiling crisis article. I used my draft above as the basis for the article text, but added in another Democratic viewpoint to address your concern that it focused too much on conservative views.
Also, I'd like to invite editors from here to help develop the new article, since it's fairly short right now and could do with input from others on what to include. I'll also leave a message over at Talk:United States debt-ceiling crisis to the same effect. Thurmant (talk) 15:52, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Bravo for being WP:BOLD. Btw, it looks like you made a copyedit error in your COI disclosure, you probably want to fix that. --Nstrauss (talk) 18:34, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Lead third paragraph[edit]

The third paragraph of the lead section has too many numbers. When I put on my "casual reader" hat and read that paragraph my eyes start glazing over. It needs to be simplified and made much more accessible and inviting per WP:MOSINTRO. Thoughts? --Nstrauss (talk) 20:08, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

I just moved a sentence from the 3rd paragraph to the 1st, but the only number it had was to specify a date. Keeping the figures to a minimum is more important in the first paragraph than the rest of the lead, but you're right, there are a lot of detailed amounts there. Percentages are usually okay -- people can handle that, I think. Maybe that long sentence listing all the specifics about the implementation of the taxes could be made into a list and put into a box or table along the right side, under the infobox. Later, when the spending is hashed out, those details could be included in there, too. Sparkie82 (tc) 01:18, 29 January 2013 (UTC)