White House Links Cyber Monday and Fiscal Cliff

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As consumers gobble up Cyber Monday deals online at virtual retail destinations like Amazon ( AMZN), eBay ( EBAY) and JCPenney ( JCP), the White House has used the day to warn of the impact the so-called fiscal cliff will have on retailers and consumers.

A 14-page document available on the White House's Web page details the supposed fallouts that consumers and retailers could suffer, including a 1.7 percentage point cut in real consumer spending in 2013, according to the president's Council of Economic Advisers. That cut could represent about $200 billion consumers would not be able to spend next year, the report said.

"If Congress does not act on the President's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle-class, it will be risking one of the key contributors to growth and jobs in our economy at the most important time of the year for retail stores," the report said.

Online retailers were off to a strong start in the 2012 holiday season as statistics released Sunday by the National Retail Federation noted that 247 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over the Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million a year ago.

Shares of eBay were up more than 3%, and shares of Amazon were up about 0.5% on Monday as investors looked for promising signs that the online retail giants would continue to ride the wave of upbeat sales data reported over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Some of the language in the White House's document echoed the type of rhetoric that became central to the George W. Bush administration's sweeping tax cuts in the early 2000s -- spend to stimulate economic growth.

" When American families spend more on things like clothes, cars, furniture, and food, for example, this spending generates greater profit for businesses and increased demand that causes businesses to invest and hire more workers," the White House document said.

The office of House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, was out with a post on Monday that said a majority of Americans were in favor of spending cuts over raising tax rates -- a move that is not unlike austerity measures that have gripped the eurozone for the past couple years. The Boehner post cited polling gathered by GOP research firm Winston Group.

Boehner has said that he would be willing to work with the president to find more revenue, but both neither side has outlined details of a working, joint plan.

The White House has repeatedly addressed the fiscal cliff -- a slew of expiring tax cuts and deep spending cuts set to go into effect at the beginning of 2013 -- as it pertains to middle-class individual households and income earners. The move is likely the president's attempt to gain as much support of the various details in his specific budget plan before Republicans make an anticipated push for their own concessions.

This does not suggest, however, that the president is unwilling to compromise, as markets jumped last week on preliminary feedback that opening discussions were constructive between Democrats and Republicans.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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