Legislators express optimism on fiscal cliff while sticking points remain
November 18th, 2012
01:54 PM ET
2 years ago

Legislators express optimism on fiscal cliff while sticking points remain

(CNN) - With the so-called fiscal cliff looming, legislators continued on Sunday to express optimism that a deal would be reached - but members of the two parties remained entrenched on one of the major sticking points, tax revenue.

Asked if she could "accept a deal that does not include tax rate increases for the wealthy," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded, "No."

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Rep. Tom Price, who is chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, was similarly firm.

"We're still at the place where everything gets hung up: no increases in tax rates. That is still the position of House Republicans, correct?" CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley asked on "State of the Union."

"We would be happy to look at that if it solved the problem. The problem is, it doesn't solve the problem," Price replied.

Still, Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, said he hears signs the political debate has advanced from the winter of 2010, when the Simpson-Bowles Commission proposed a deficit reduction plan. President Barack Obama had created the commission, but did not send its recommendations to Congress, which instead created the so-called supercommittee - which proved unsuccessful - and the deficit reduction measures in the fiscal cliff to break their impasse.

"What I hear is a perceptible change in rhetoric from the other side, and what it is is an invitation for our side to basically sit down and say, what can we do for this country?" Durbin said on CNN.

"Push the special interest groups to the side for the moment, and what I hear the president saying is, we're not going to solve this by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share, but it will be part of the solution," he continued. "And what I hear from the Republican side is, well, what is the rest of the solution? That is the beginning of a negotiation."

The fiscal cliff is a combination of the spending cuts passed by Congress - known as sequestration - and expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, all set to take effect at the beginning of the new year, absent congressional action. Economists have said the fiscal cliff would put the U.S. economy into recession.

The two parties have been stuck over federal spending on entitlements and the tax breaks. Democrats generally favor extending the Bush-era tax rates for income under a certain threshold - such as $250,000 - and letting the rates rise on income above that level. Republicans generally favor extending the rates on all levels of income while reducing loopholes and capping deductions for top earners.

But Democrats say there is not enough money for deficit reduction without the tax increases on the wealthy.

"The president made it very clear in his campaign that there is not enough - there are not enough resources," Pelosi said on ABC. "You have to cut some investments. If you cut too many, you're hampering growth, you're hampering education, our investments for the future. So just to close loopholes is far too little money."

Price said on CNN that tax increases would not be effective.

"Tax increases to chase ever higher spending is a fool's errand," he said. "What we need to do is have that balanced approach that we've all been talking about, which, again, is increasing revenues through a process of tax reform, and then spending reductions."

While some have suggested a deal could be reached in the new year, the legislators speaking on Sunday agreed there is urgency to avert the cliff before January.

"Kicking the can further down the road, which is one of the things that we hear out of Washington all the time, will no longer be acceptable to either the American people or to the challenges that we have to get this economy rolling again and get jobs created," Price said, calling it a crisis.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a Republican who previously served two terms in the U.S. House, said on Fox that "if they just put a Band-Aid on this, we'll be in another fiscal cliff in a few months."

Pelosi said that Congress should be able to reach a deal because "we're all grown-ups."

"We have a responsibility to the American people. The elements for an agreement are there. Time is of the essence," she said. "The quicker we do it, the more confidence we instill, the better it is for the economy and for the American people."


Filed under: Congress • Fiscal Cliff
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Joe M.

    I thought that the debate over increasing taxes on the highest earners was settled with Obama's solid election win. The house Republicans need to wake up and realize that the majority of Americans want the rich to pay more. If they dont heed that call they are going to find themselves in a difficult placce in two years.

    November 18, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. plain&simple

    Less talk....more actions!! Elections are over,time for posturing is over... Do your job then do all the talking you want. That's for both parties!!!!

    November 18, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. us_1776

    Hey, Repubs, the latest survey of the American public showed 71% of people in favor of doing away with the Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy.

    Are you Repubs all deaf?

    .

    November 18, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Larry Moniz in New Jersey

    Pelosi said that Congress should be able to reach a deal because "we're all grown-ups." REALLY? when did that happen, they act like a bunch of eight-year-olds fighting over a schoolyard ball.

    November 18, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Steve

    We are not stuck on revenue. If Republicans don't agree to rate hikes, then we'll just let the sequestration begin and the rate hikes are automatically implemented, all across the board. Then we can wait and see what the electorate does in 2014. My prediction is, if Republicans don't give in on rate hikes, Nancy Pelosi will be speaker of the house and Dems will have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The anti-tax crowd can't win. But they can avert disaster and live to fight another day. Its up to them.

    November 18, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    George Will said today that we are getting $5 of government services for every $3 we pay. He didn't say what should be done about it, but to take the deal called the fiscal cliff would be a step in the right direction.

    November 18, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Greg

    Government needs to make massive spending cuts, plain and simple. That would be the first place to start.

    November 18, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Rogere

    The hilarious thing is that we really do not have a spending problem and we are not really short of money. Now of course there are some inefficiencies in government and there is some waste but the same occurs in the private sector. The problem lies in the outdated financial system that prevents us from doing what is possible because we limit and shortchange ourselves with a restrictive and draconian system of creating and managing money.

    November 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Floyd from Illinois

    Yeah yeah, the GOP is really holding out for a 'balanced' approach. They make this claim after years of Norquist-enslaved opposition to the idea of increased tax revenues, their near-shutdowns of the government, the playing chicken over the debt ceiling, etc. , and a Presidential and Congressional election cycle in which that was their core economic principle.

    NOW they want us to believe that they've been in favor of increased revenues all along? WHAT A PACKAGE OF BALONEY!!

    November 18, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. nyfoodhistorian

    Obama voters- be careful what you wish for. Just ask the 18,500 Hostess Cake workers how they will be spending Christmas this year.

    November 18, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. Listen to the Experts

    How about both sides listen to the experts on this. Nearly every non-partisan economist who has examined our fiscal situation has said that there absolutely needs to be a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. Period. I do think Republicans might be able to negotiate if the Dems propose capping deductions on the wealthy.

    November 18, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. skytag

    Many Republicans in Congress oppose any such tax increases; thus, the legislation may not pass if tax hikes are included.

    Americans do not necessarily share this view, with 20% saying deficit reduction should come only through spending cuts. That percentage is a little higher, 26%, among those who identify as Republicans. — Gallup

    I guess this answers the question, are Republicans listening to the American people or Grover Norquist?

    November 18, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. thoughtful

    lets cut a huge gift...farmer and oilman welfare. cut farm subsidies and oil subsidies

    November 18, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. mike

    the time for words has passed. voters want action.

    November 18, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    That they remain “hung up” on tax rates unfortunately is no surprise after the long and bitter election campaign. We can only hope that this time the political squabbling takes a second seat to the interests of the country and the parties reach a meaningful compromise. The elections are over. Now it is time for both parties to sit at the table and work it out! Isn’t that what the American taxpayers pay them to do?

    November 18, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. GRINCH McSCROOGE

    "Tic-toc-tic-toc-Porker's are squealin' with cheap talk-cheap talk-cheap-talk"!-got lipstick??!

    November 18, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Coldfinger

    That they remain “hung up” on tax rates unfortunately is no surprise after the long and bitter election campaign. We can only hope that this time the political squabbling takes a second seat to the interests of the country and the parties reach a meaningful compromise. The elections are over. Now it is time for both parties to sit at the table and work it out! Isn’t that what the American taxpayers pay them to do?

    November 18, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. Mike S

    Unless, you've been sleeping on the job, the Republicans already talked about raising revenue. Thus far I've not heard a word from the Democrats about cutting spending.

    November 18, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |