Even if leaders in Washington don't reach a "fiscal cliff" budget deal, the economy won't take an immediate nose dive.
Taxpayers, however, could be in for some real pain in the coming months.
Here's the Local 6 Unofficial Fiscal Cliff Date Book:
- Jan 1: Tax hike for all working American.
- Jan 2: Stock market re-opens, Dow likely plunges.
- Jan 14/15: First bi-weekly paychecks of the year are issued. Pay is at least two percent less because the payroll tax cut expired, a $1500 hit to the average earner per year. Checks shrink even more (between $92 and $142 less per worker per paycheck) because the Bush-era tax cuts expire as well.
- Jan-Feb: Billions in cuts to federal spending result in layoffs at federal agencies. TSA workers, for example, may get furloughed. Defense spending at the Pentagon takes a huge hit. The stock market continues to struggle.
- Early Feb: If there's no deal, the U.S. is looking at a crisis, as the economy grinds to a crawl.
- March: The U.S. could default on its debt obligation unless the debt ceiling is raised. A default would lead to a downgrade of U.S. debt, a nightmare for world markets and a possible global financial panic. The economy look something like the 2008 recession, or worse.