Experts: Officials can soften fiscal cliff

Nov. 3, 2012 at 5:52 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The executive branch could soften the blow of going off the "fiscal cliff" if Congress and the White House fail to agree on U.S. deficit reduction, experts say.

A drastic set of tax hikes and spending cuts are set to begin if no plan is agreed on by Jan. 1. President Barack Obama and top members of the administration have executive powers that could be used to delay some of the most drastic effects, The Washington Post reported Friday.

One example is that Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner could freeze tax withholding at current levels. Otherwise, taxpayers would feel the tax increases in their first paychecks.

Gregory Jenner, a senior tax official under former President George W. Bush, said Geithner would need "a plausible, defensible reason" to act.

"This is a gray area,"Jenner said. "I think it's possible. Who's going to challenge him?"

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