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Right away, housing challenges for Obama

'Fiscal cliff' negotiations may include homeowner tax breaks

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Now that President Barack Obama has won re-election, there are several housing-related challenges staring the federal government square in the face. These are some of the decisions that will have to be made in the coming weeks: 1. The "fiscal cliff": The fiscal cliff is a series of tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect unless U.S. lawmakers come up with an alternative plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The spending cuts, known as "sequestrations," would automatically go into effect on Jan. 2 and be split evenly between defense spending and domestic spending. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has said there's a 20 to 25 percent chance the U.S. economy will go into a double-dip recession should Congress fail to reach an agreement avoiding the fiscal cliff. S&P's deputy chief economist, Beth Ann Bovino, warned that such a scenario would cause home prices, currently at...