Budget shortfalls will make it difficult for the U.S. Postal Service to meet its retiree benefits prefunding obligations in the short term, and the USPS will struggle to fund the remaining $48 billion unfunded liability, says the Government Accountability Office. In fiscal 2012, USPS had a net loss of almost $16 billion, which includes defaults on $11.1 billion in Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund prefunding, and reached its borrowing limit of $15 billion.
As many as 100 million taxpayers could face refund delays and filing problems if fiscal cliff negotiations fail to adjust the alternative minimum tax exemption before the end of 2012, says Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner Steve Miller. In a Dec. 19 letter (.pdf), Miller said that 80 to 100 million taxpayers would be unable to file taxes while the IRS reprograms its tax processing systems to take into account the expiration of a temporary measure that adjusts the AMT exception for inflation.
A House and Senate conference has agreed on a $633.3 billion national defense authorization act for fiscal 2013 that includes a pay rise for the military and cuts to the civilian workforce.According to a Senate Armed Services Committee release (.pdf), the armed services will have more than 1.4 million people on active duty during fiscal 2013, and the legislation authorizes a 1.7 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are said to be working on a new resolution to the fiscal cliff. The Associated Press reports that the president has proposed raising the income threshold for extension of th e Bush tax cuts to those making $400,000 annually, as opposed his previous threshold of $ 200,000 annually for individuals and $250,000 for familes. The president is also said to have asked for a debt limit that would last 2 years.
In a Dec. 14 report (.pdf), GAO says that the agency overpaid eligible aged, blind or disabled beneficiaries by more than $3.3 billion in fiscal 2010. By the end of fiscal 2011, the total overpayment debt of the supplemental security income system equaled $7.3 billion, almost double from the $3.8 billion in debt held in fiscal 2007.
About a quarter of the Justice Department budget goes to the Bureau of Prisons, which appears likely to consume more of the DOJ budget in the coming decade, the Urban Institute says. The president's fiscal 2013 budget request for the BOP was almost $7 billion, up $278 million from the fiscal 2012 enacted budget, the institute says in a Dec. 11 report (.pdf).
Despite some changes to its language, a re-issued Congressional Research Service report still says that there is no clear relationship between reducing top level tax rates and economic growth, but that reductions do appear to be associated with increasing the amount of wealth at the top of the income distribution.
Seven federal judges are suing the United States to provide years of unpaid cost-of-living adjustments for all of the nation's federal judges through a class action suit. The suit claims that Congress violated the Constitution when it did not pay federal judges the mandated pay raises in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2007 and 2010.
The U.S. economy is already seeing small adverse effects from the fiscal cliff impasse, but the crisis can still be resolved without any long-term damage, said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have specified exactly negotiations are currently but polls show that Americans simply want a resolution.
More than 25,000 employees have accepted an early-retirement offer from the United States Postal Service, part of the agency's attempts to cut its workforce and costs, said a spokesperson for the American Postal Workers Union. The Postal Service finished fiscal 2012 with a $15.9 billion loss .