US goes from fiscal cliff to a tumble downhill

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IF JANUARY’S financial crisis was a “fiscal cliff”, President Obama has said he sees the current wrangle as more of a “tumble downward”.

The two episodes share many similarities, not least a showdown between the White House and Congress over the financial direction of the country. Now, as in January, Mr Obama wants Republicans to agree an end to tax breaks for the wealthy to tackle national debt, and they refuse to do so.

But while the 1 January compromise halted the country plunging into a sudden maelstrom of cutbacks and middle-class tax hikes, the 
so-called sequester is more of a slow-burner.

The big question now is how severe the cuts will become before some kind of deal is thrashed out to fix things. Experts say things 
will become progressively worse in the coming weeks and months.