America is increasingly governed by temporary policies. The 2001/2003/2010 tax cuts get most of the attention, but they are hardly the only ones. There are also a host of other semi-permanent provisions like patching the alternative minimum tax (AMT), avoiding big cuts to what Medicare pays doctors (the “doc fix”), and a plethora of miscellaneous tax cuts that get extended every year or two (the “extenders”).
And then there are the policies that really are supposed to be temporary, but likely won’t be retired until the economy strengthens. They include the 2% payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment insurance, both of which Congress is debating this week.
Over at the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative, Carla Uriona, Evan Potler, and Ernie Tedeschi have put together a nice infographic of all the provisions scheduled to expire at the end of the month. The 2001/2003/2010 tax cuts aren’t included, since they expire at the end of 2012, but there is still plenty of action:
In the near-term, the big money is in the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance. Extending those provisions for one year would add about $164 billion to the deficit, not including interest costs. Over the next decade, however, the really big money among these provisions comes from patching the AMT ($690 billion) and the extenders ($356 billion). (Extending the 2001/2003/2010 tax cuts, in comparison, comes in around $4 trillion.)