Joe Ricketts Group Gives Congress Summer Reading Assignment on The 'Fiscal Cliff'

A fiscal responsibility group has given Congress summer reading: a book on the fiscal cliff.

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A fiscal responsibility group founded by bilionaire investor Joe Ricketts has taken it upon themselves to assign Congress a good old-fashioned summer reading assignment: a book on the "fiscal cliff."

The Washington buzz word refers to the day of the reckoning the U.S. government will face at the end of 2012, when Congress will decide whether to allow potentially recession-inducing tax increases and spending cuts to go into effect, or cancel these measures and add to the already massive budget.

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Congress has been fiercely debating what to do ahead of D-Day for months.

The government spending watchdog group Ending Spending believes Congress could cut through the budget gridlock if lawmakers would just read the University of Southern California economists-authored book The Fiscal Cliff.

To make it easy for lawmakers, Ending Spending has sent copies of the book to every House and Senate office this week.

The Fiscal Cliff encourages making structural reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, lowering tax rates, and simplifying the tax code—suggestions that are largely in line with House Republicans and their budgetary standard bearer, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

While Ending Spending claims to be non-partisan, the group was founded by billionaire investor Joe Ricketts, a former Democrat who became a Republican and says he is now an independent. By some accounts, Ricketts appears determined to have an Obama loss in the fall.

Ricketts recently financed 5 percent of the budget of an anti-Obama film, "Obama:2016," that opened nationally last week. And in May, he reportedly considered investing millions in an ad campaign that related Obama to the rhetoric of his inflammatory former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, though Ricketts quickly distanced himself from the reports.

Congress will go on a five-week recess starting Monday, but it may not have time to read Ending Spending's The Fiscal Cliff if House Speaker John Boehner has anything to do with it. The Ohio Republican said Wednesday he would call the House back into session during its summer break if the Senate takes action to prevent a tax hike and spending cuts.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.