The Straits Times
Published on Nov 17, 2012

Treasury cannot delay tax hikes: Geithner


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States Treasury Department does not have the authority to delay the tax increases that will take effect at the end of the year if the White House and Congress are unable to stave off the "fiscal cliff," US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Friday.

The law "does not give me the authority to give them, to let them avoid making some decisions on rates and policy," Mr Geithner said on Bloomberg TV's "Political Capital with Al Hunt," when asked whether he could freeze the income tax withholding rates if Washington was close to averting the year-end fiscal crisis.

Some US$600 billion (S$736 billion) in spending cuts and tax hikes will start taking effect Dec. 31 - a combination of austerity measures known as the "fiscal cliff" that could tip the country into recession if lawmakers fail to act.

The Obama administration has just over six weeks to broker a deal with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff and is pushing Republican lawmakers to allow the tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire.