Local Officials Discuss The "Fiscal Cliff"

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As we near the end of the year, many local officials are concerned about the so-called "fiscal cliff", but what does it mean to the average person in the panhandle?
Some believe regardless of how negotiations turn out, the impacts can be significant.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 was designed to reduce the federal deficit by cutting spending and raising taxes.
Unless Congress and the President can agree on a compromise, the plan is expected to take effect in January.
Some experts predict it has the potential to throw the nation into another recession.

"Washington made bad decisions when they passed the Budget Control Act and they created this scenario," said Congressman Steve Southerland.

Southerland says military bases and defense contractors could be impacted.

"You just can't cut half a trillion dollars out of one department and it not be felt in every part of a wide array of defense," said Southerland.

Falling over the proverbial cliff would also impact other businesses.

"The middle class is having to pay about another $3,000 a year in taxes. What's that going to do to all of the businesses that they support with their money that they earn?" asked Bay County Commissioner Mike Nelson.

While many national news outlets have reported bipartisan cooperation to address the potential crisis, Southerland says that's not completely the case.

"The president seems set on getting his way. I have great concerns about where that will take our country."

Regardless of what happens in Washington, Southerland says long-term economic recover is just that, long term.

"We have $90 trillion dollars of unfunded mandates. That will fall on my children and my grandchildren and not enough people are talking about those issues."

Southerland heads back to Washington on Tuesday where the fiscal cliff is the top priority.

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