44,000 Inland Empire residents could lose jobless benefits

So-called "fiscal cliff" could bring major local impacts

POSTED: 06:04 PM PST Nov 29, 2012    UPDATED: 06:06 PM PST Nov 29, 2012 
Taxes, tax forms

 Progress reports on the "fiscal cliff" negotiations are confusing. This morning House Speaker John Boehner told the press, "No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks."
     Just moments late Senator Harry Reid disagreed. "All you have to do is just, listen to what's happening out there, and you know there is progress," Reid said.
     However, the local and state impact is cut and dry.
     Massive cuts to the to the defense budget and federal aid programs will go into effect and tax cuts for millions of people will expire.
     We spoke with County Supervisor John Benoit about the local impact if we go over the cliff. He said, "The impacts would be large and extremely bad for Riverside County. Public safety, social services, health care, transportation, just about every type of discretionary spending in our budgets would be dramatically impacted. We're very hopeful that a compromise can be reached and frankly, we're very, very concerned that if it's not, we're in a position where after years and years of cut backs at the local level, this would be devastating."
     Hundreds of thousands of people would see their unemployment benefits disappear. 44,000 in the Inland Empire alone. Medicare would also be in line for "deep, automatic cuts."
     But, the biggest impact will be felt in your paycheck. Tax cuts would end for earners across the board, with a two percent increase to payroll taxes alone.
     The defense budget would also suffer, with cuts up to $11 Billion.
     Major General Denni Kenneally filled us in on how that would impact the state economically. "You have a million jobs created by department of defense dollars. Now that's larger than the appointment of silicon valley. Between sequestration and the fiscal cliff, as you refer to it, and the the cuts that have already been made, you're going to lose over 300,000 jobs in California," Major Generally Kenneally said.
     With the state just starting to show signs of economic recovery, not reaching a deal could send California back into the red.