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What you need to know about the ‘fiscal cliff’

WASHINGTON — Averting the fiscal cliff is Congress’s top priority before the end of the year. Here’s a primer.

President Barack Obama holds up a signature pen while delivering a statement on the "fiscal cliff" last Friday.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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  • Fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax issue and extending the Bush tax cuts would add or save about 1.8 million new jobs, or about 1.6 million new jobs if only rates on incomes above $250,000 lapse;
  • Extending only unemployment benefits and the payroll tax holiday would create about 800,000 jobs;
  • And avoiding the cliff altogether (extending the low tax rates and unemployment benefits, preventing the spending cuts, etc.) would allow the economy to save or create 3.4 million jobs — but add $500 billion to the deficit per year.
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