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US economy could withstand brief fall off 'cliff'

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's the scenario that's been spooking employers and investors and slowing the U.S. economy:

Congress and the White House fail to strike a budget deal by New Year's Day. Their stalemate triggers sharp tax increases and spending cuts. Those measures shrink consumer spending, stifle job growth, topple stock prices and push the economy off a "fiscal cliff" and into recession.

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