Tax Law

Georgetown Law Prof Sees Fiscal Cliff as Lesser Evil

Georgetown law professor David Super isn’t optimistic that a compromise to avert the fiscal cliff will be good for the nation.

Going over the cliff is the better alternative, Super writes in a New York Times op-ed. “If we are going to have radical deficit reduction, the fiscal cliff may be the fairest, least harmful way it can be achieved,” Super says.

If Bush-era tax cuts expire, the top 2 percent of earners would be paying taxes at levels in effect during the 1990s boom years. Their rates would likely be raised less in a deal to avert the cliff, requiring other tax increases or spending cuts, Super says.

In addition, cuts to nondefense programs would likely be steeper under a deal than the fiscal cliff, he writes. Major safety net programs could be at risk for cuts, he says.

Super also predicts that Congress will act to ease the impact of the fiscal cliff after the new year by restoring tax cuts for middle- and lower-income families and moderating spending cuts. “Even if the New Year’s Day changes remain in full force,” he writes, “the result would be sacrifice shared broadly among rich, middle-class and poor, and between domestic and military programs. Any bargain proposed to avoid the fiscal cliff should be judged against that standard.”

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