From the Document: "The federal budget deficit has exceeded $1 trillion in each of the last three fiscal years and is expected to exceed that level in FY2012. Concern over these large deficits, as well as the long-term trajectory of the federal budget, has resulted in significant debate during the 112th Congress over how to achieve meaningful deficit reduction and how to implement a plan to stabilize the federal debt. At the same time, the economy is recovering from its largest downturn since the Great Depression, and concerns have been expressed that growth in the United States may falter to the point where the U.S. economy again experiences recession. This has resulted in some renewed debate over whether additional stimulus may be needed. Over the next few months through the early part of calendar year 2013, Congress will be facing choices on how to deal with numerous expiring provisions, across-the-board spending cuts, and other short-term considerations that will have major effects on the federal budget. Some have referred to this as the 'fiscal cliff.' Choosing how to address these issues will have a significant impact on the size of the budget deficit and the pace of economic recovery going forward. Further changes to other spending and revenue policies could also address some of the longer-term drivers of projected budgetary imbalance, while simultaneously impacting the economy. This report provides a brief overview of the major tax and spending policy changes set to take effect under current law at the end of 2012 or early in 2013. Collectively, these policies have been referred to by some as the 'fiscal cliff.' The report also includes links to other CRS [Congressional Research Service] reports which provide more information and analysis of the individual provisions discussed below."
CRS Report for Congress, R42654