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Fiscal cliff: Key players in U.S. budget mess

Last Updated: Nov. 14, 2012

As 2012 winds down, the U.S. federal government must deal with a perfect fiscal storm. A series of large temporary tax cuts, covering Americans in many income brackets, is set to expire at year's end.

At the same time, spending cuts to a range of programs, worth roughly $640 billion, are to kick in. On top of that, the country is about to reach its “debt ceiling”, or the maximum amount it can legally owe.

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