[Pessimism Abounds as White House Calls Cliff Meeting – Roll Call – Steven T. Dennis -
Dec. 27, 2012 – click here to read full article]
Roll Call covers White House and Congressional efforts to readdress the looming “Fiscal Cliff,” automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, if Congress and the White House do not act to modify them. After both President Obama and Congress went on vacation, they now have returned to Washington, D.C. But while a meeting has been requested by Obama for Friday afternoon, hopes are not high for a quick resolution of the impasse.
Lawmakers seemed as pessimistic as ever about averting the fiscal cliff Thursday evening despite the White House scheduling a meeting with the top four congressional leaders for Friday afternoon.
The White House announced that President Barack Obama would meet with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The last-ditch effort to avert the cliff caps two years of false starts and failed deal-making.
Although at least one Senator, while implying that the meeting is window-dressing by the White House, expressed what he deemed a common belief that either a last-minute deal, or retroactive deal early in January, would spare 98% of income earners the big automatic tax hikes:
Republican Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the GOP had expected the White House to deliver a new proposal Thursday, which never arrived, and that the meeting with the White House was originally supposed to be in the morning and was later pushed to the afternoon. Corker said that suggests to him the meeting might be more for “optics” than for cutting a deal, and he said it’s becoming more likely that the next Congress will have to deal with the cliff. The failure to address a problem two years in the making is a total “dereliction of duty,” Corker said.
Corker said that in the end, however, no one doubts that 98 percent of taxpayers will avoid an income tax hike in the end — either with a last-minute deal or with a retroactive bill sometime early next year. He complained that Democrats still have not come to the table with significant entitlement reforms beyond changes to how the inflation rate is calculated for Social Security, tax brackets and other programs.
Several other senators expressed frustration with the lack of momentum for getting something done now, although Republicans including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said they were encouraged that Obama has spoken to McConnell.
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