IMF: US 'cliff' actions not enough

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 03 2013 09:09 AM | Updated as of Jan 03 2013 05:09 PM

WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that US actions to avoid the fiscal cliff did not go far enough to address the country's long-term fiscal deficit and debt problems.

The global emergency lender cheered the political deal finalized late Tuesday in Washington that allowed the country to avoid severe spending cuts and tax hikes programmed to take place.

"In the absence of Congressional action the economic recovery would have been derailed," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.

But, he added, the Congress made little progress on dealing with the larger-picture problem of the US deficit, and the need to increase the country's statutory debt ceiling in order to keep funding that deficit.

"More remains to be done to put US public finances back on a sustainable path without harming the still fragile recovery," Rice said in a statement.

"Specifically, a comprehensive plan that ensures both higher revenues and containment of entitlement spending over the medium term should be approved as soon as possible."

Additionally, he said, "it is crucial to raise the debt ceiling expeditiously and remove remaining uncertainties about the spending sequester and expiring appropriation bills."

In the last-minute compromise between Democrats and Republicans, automatic tax increases slated to hit January 1 were pared back.

But scheduled steep federal spending cuts, called the sequester, were put off for two months, meaning Congress will have to go through another battle over how to deal with them, in addition to long-term deficit reduction measures.

© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse