Briefing

'Fiscal cliff'? 'Sequester'? Your guide to Congress's code language.

Congress knows what it means by terms such as 'fiscal cliff' or 'Simpson-Bowles,' but to many outside the Beltway they may as well be speaking Greek. Here's a translation of Washington's shorthand for budgetary issues now before the country – with each entry explained in 50 words or less.  

By , Staff writer

5. Grand bargain

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    Asked during a Nov. 1, 2011, hearing whether reducing national deficits by $1.2 trillion over 10 years will require spending cuts, revenue increases, and entitlement reform, the witnesses answer with a show of hands. They include, from right to left: former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R) of New Mexico, former White House Budget Director Alice Rivlin, and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R) of Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
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Washington-speak for a long-term deficit-reduction solution that incorporates the whole enchilada: tax reform that raises some new revenues and spending cuts that include trims to big federal entitlement programs. Would need presidential sign-off.

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