Higher taxes. Raising taxes to reduce the deficit may be good for the economy in the long run, but in the short run every dollar removed from people’s pockets is a dollar that doesn’t get spent. The two percentage point rise in the payroll tax will have a direct negative effect on the spending of working Americans. Rough estimates of the overall fiscal cliff deal are that GDP growth will be reduced by about 1.5 percentage points this year.
The cost of Obamacare. Whatever the merits of the Affordable Care Act, it does raise taxes on high-income households by some $24 billion this year. Obamacare also increases costs for many businesses, and at some companies that will lead to layoffs or fewer new jobs.
Corporate cash hoarding. U.S. companies are holding as much as $1.8 trillion in cash. Corporate profits are high, and the economy isn’t growing fast enough to generate additional sales that would spur expansion. Companies therefore have little incentive to invest – if they do, it’s likely in order to cut costs, which may lead to fewer jobs. And badly drawn tax laws give multinationals an incentive to keep cash stashed overseas.