Americani sull'orlo del precipizio fiscale?

WASHINGTON, DC – Nei primi mesi del 2012, il presidente della Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke ha coniato il termine fiscal cliff (lett. "precipizio fiscale") per richiamare l'attenzione dei legislatori e del pubblico sul pacchetto di aumenti fiscali e tagli alla spesa previsto dalla fine di quest'anno, che a suo avviso dovrebbe preoccupare gli americani.

In realtà, non si tratta di un vero e proprio "precipizio", dove, oltrepassato l'orlo, si cade nel vuoto e si atterra sul duro facendosi molto male. Nella moderna economia statunitense, i cambiamenti in programma richiamano più una fiscal slope, ovvero una pendenza  fiscale, in quanto l'effetto dell'incremento delle imposte non sarebbe percepito immediatamente (l'adeguamento delle trattenute sul reddito richiede tempo), e i tagli alla spesa verrebbero introdotti in maniera graduale (il governo può esercitare una certa discrezionalità in proposito). Questa pendenza offre al presidente Barack Obama l'occasione concreta di riportare le entrate del governo federale ai livelli della metà degli anni 1990.

Scegliere bene le parole per descrivere la situazione fiscale in America è molto importante, visto l'isterismo divampato negli ultimi mesi, soprattutto tra coloro che vogliono apportare pesanti tagli ai due principali programmi assistenziali del Paese, Social Security e Medicare. Secondo il loro ragionamento, se si precipita in un baratro, bisogna ricorrere a misure estreme. E certamente il taglio delle pensioni e dell'assistenza sanitaria per gli anziani è una misura estrema, nonché del tutto inappropriata e non necessaria.

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