11/30/2012 07:34 am ET

Seven And A Half Things To Know: Tax Rates Indicate We're Partying Like It's 1980

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Mark Gongloff is off the newsletter this morning, so today's 7.5 Things are brought to you by Jillian Berman.

Thing One: We Took A Time Machine To The Reagan Era: If Congress and President Obama can’t agree on a solution to the fiscal cliff, the Reagan era may come to an end. That’s right, even though it’s 2012 we’re living in Reagan’s America. Most Americans paid less in taxes in 2010 than in 1980, according to an analysis by The New York Times. The households that have benefited the most from lower tax rates over the past three decades are those earning more than $200,000 per year. But if Obama gets his way, or if lawmakers can’t reach a deal on Bush tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year, those households and others may end up paying more in taxes than during an era notorious for tax cutting. Gasp.

Obama opened the bidding to stop the panic over the fiscal cliff on Thursday. His plan gave credence to the GOP proposal to find $400 billion to cut from social safety programs, in exchange for $1.6 trillion in tax boosts over the next 10 years and $50 billion in stimulus, according to the NYT. But he didn’t grovel enough to satisfy Republican leaders, who rejected the offer outright. House Speaker John Boehner urged the White House to “get serious.” The Republicans are hoping to stave off the fiscal cliff by cutting spending, and they’ve only expressed willingness to boost taxes by less than half of what Obama offered, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most of the tax boosts in Obama’s proposal focus on top earners by limiting tax breaks and increasing tax rates on capital gains, dividends and estates, according to Bloomberg.

Thing Two: It's Not Great To Be Europe: Here we go again. Things in Europe are not great and European leaders are getting pressure from all sides to fix them. The Euro zone's jobless rate rose to a record 11.7 percent in October, according to Bloomberg, thanks in large part to those tough austerity measures that some have argued would solve the crisis. The IMF and the European Central Bank urged European leaders Friday to meld their various budgets into one in an aim to stabilize the region, according to Reuters. Mario Draghi, the head of the ECB, pushed European leaders to move ahead with a plan to implement a banking union, putting him in opposition to Europe's queen of the no's, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Thing Three: Good News No One Can Get Too Excited About: Good news, sort of. The U.S. economy expanded at its fastest pace since 2011 last quarter, the Commerce Department announced Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the progress isn’t expected to last: Hurricane Sandy and the fiscal cliff debate may reverse the gains in the final quarter. The main factor driving the third-quarter boost is unsustainable, as it was due largely to an uptick in business inventories, which won’t hold for long, according to the Financial Times.

Thing Four: Baby Bust: Call it the baby bust. The U.S. birthrate hit its lowest level since 1920 during the economic downturn, according to the Pew Research Center. The plummet in baby-making is due in large part to the recession and puts programs like Medicare and Social Security at risk because it means there are fewer working-age people paying payroll taxes to fund the programs, according to Bloomberg. The birthrate has been dropping since it reached its peak in 1957 during the baby boom, according to the Financial Times. The recent drop was due in part to a plunge in the number of babies born to immigrant women, a group whose birth rate had been on the rise prior to the downturn.

Thing Five: Care For A Side Of Strike? Fast food workers took to the streets on Thursday, The Huffington Post's Alice Hines reports, to demand that they be paid a livable wage for handling gross food in grim conditions and serving it up to customers. The strikes, which took place at New York city locations of Burger King, Wendy's, McDonald's and Taco Bell, come less than a week after Walmart workers made headlines for striking over low wages and other issues on Black Friday.

Thing Six: Twinkie Crisis Probably Averted: As it turns out, that Twinkie panic was probably unnecessary. Hostess is in talks with more than 100 potential buyers for its most successful brands, including Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. But Twinkie-lovers aren't the only ones smiling, a judge approved Hostess' shut down plan, including a provision to pay its executives up to $1.8 million in bonuses, according to CNBC.

Thing Seven: Welcome To Recoveryville, USA: Want to know what recovery looks like? Head to Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville, along with Pittsburgh and Dallas, are the only three major U.S. metropolitan areas experiencing a recovery since the recession, according to an analysis from the Brookings Institution.

Thing Seven And A Half: Weird Mustache Season Is Finally Over: All of the men with the unsightly mustaches and beards participating in that annual ritual of no-shave November can now look normal again. Here is some bacon shaving cream to help you shave it off.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Personal Income and Spending for October

9:45 a.m. ET: Chicago PMI for November

Corporate Earnings:


Heard On The Tweets:

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.



Companies Fearing The Fiscal Cliff