Mississippi, Nation Facing 'Fiscal Cliff'

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It's called the fiscal cliff and if the country falls off of it, state economist Darrin Webb says that fall would be right into a recession.

"Certainly Mississippi would be in recession and we'd see dramatic impacts from that," said Webb.

To battle the deficit cliff, the beginning of the year would automatically bring increased taxes and cuts in federal spending by about $607 billion.

Webb says with Mississippi depending heavily on federal money, that type of measure would more than cripple the state. In 2010, about a third of the state's gross domestic product was represented by spending from the federal level. Even though the scenario sounds disastrous, Webb doesn't foresee any of it happening.

"I don't think anybody really expects us to go off the cliff," said Webb. "It was designed to be so horrendous that we would not go off the cliff, so presumably cooler heads will prevail. Some compromise will be made. We don't know what that looks like at this point."

Neither do congressional lawmakers. Although not speaking directly about the fiscal cliff, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker told supporters in his reelection speech about the challenges he sees with bringing down the national debt.

"When we talk about solving problems in this day and age, we talk about making tough decisions because we have a $16 trillion debt," said Wicker.

While Webb believes lawmakers will come up with something, it most likely won't be an overall solution that fixes all the concerns.

"My guess is we could see taxes increase and the expenditures, the spending, postponed," said Webb.

Webb says a study is in the works to fully examine what's at stake and what would happen if, for some reason, the fiscal cliff is hit.