Washington (CNN) – Talks to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff are expected to pick up this week as Congress returns to work.
But a promised second White House meeting on the crisis between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders still has not been scheduled – a possible sign that staff discussions over the Thanksgiving recess did not yield the progress leaders hoped.
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“The talks in the last week haven’t been tremendously productive,” said a Senate Democratic leadership aide who described the main sticking point as the refusal of Republicans “to get specific about what they would accept in terms of revenues.”
Obama met with congressional leaders on November 16. Afterward, the Republican and Democratic lawmakers voiced support for finding an agreement in a rare show of bipartisanship.
Staff talks were supposed to lead to a second White House meeting this week but only if they made enough progress on a draft proposal that would be reviewable by the chief negotiators.
The Democratic aide said negotiations are not at a point “where people are huddled in a conference room with spread sheets” but are instead at the early “dancing stage” of negotiations.
Most of the talks over the recess took place over the phone but a few occurred in one-on-one in-person meetings on Capitol Hill, according to multiple aides.
Despite the negative read-out from the Democratic aide, congressional Republican leadership aides declined to characterize the state of the talks which are being spearheaded by aides to Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, but also include other congressional leaders.
One GOP aide accused Democrats who are not central to the negotiations of leaking details of the talks in order to portray Republicans negatively. Another GOP aide noted that the talks are continuing, which itself can be read as progress.
The White House said on Monday the president reached out on Saturday to Boehner and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to touch base about their efforts to avert the crisis.
Fiscal cliff is a term used to describe the combination of mandated spending cuts and tax increases set to take place at the end year that economists warn could wipe out the fragile economic recovery.
Wall Street is concerned that negotiations will not resolve the matter, prompting key business leaders to lobby Washington for a deal.
Main sticking points revolve around tax increases, spending cuts, and overhauling major entitlement programs.
Democrats insist the top marginal tax rates return to the higher levels that existed before tax cuts that were enacted during the George W. Bush administration.
Almost all Republicans oppose a higher tax rate but several have said they would accept higher revenues if they came from eliminating deductions and other loopholes in the tax code and were coupled with entitlement reforms.
Republicans insist Democrats agree to cut discretionary spending and make significant reforms to Medicare and Social Security.
While some Democrats have said they are open to changes in the Medicare program, there is little appetite to make Social Security reform part of the fiscal cliff negotiations because Democrats argue the program is self-funded and doesn’t add to the deficit.
Meanwhile, distrust between the parties is making negotiations more difficult.
Democrats said they were concerned Republicans would want to lock in spending cuts now in return for promises of tax reforms next year that might never materialize.
And Republicans said they were concerned that Democrats want to lock in tax hikes now in return for spending cuts next year that might never happen.
On the Senate floor on Monday, Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell continued to dance.
“The question is what are we going to do about this?” asked McConnell. “How do we face up to fiscal irresponsibility and can-kicking that got us here and finally do what’s right for this country?”
Reid said: “I remain optimistic that when it comes to our economy – when it comes to protecting middle class families from a whopping tax hike January First – Republicans and Democrats will be able to find common ground.”
The gop is going to hang themselves with their no tax increase for the rich and also signing a pledge to the Moslem brotherhood bro rover nitwitquest ,the gop crook lobbist . The gop better get a brain fast before they get thrown out of government altogether, gop morons !!!!
Walk off the cliff now, it is only 10 feet to the bottom. We will survive. Or keep climbing the mountain of debt to the next cliff or until you run out of debt in which case you will be pushed off the cliff just like Greece is. The choice is yours idiots. All that rides in the balance is the future of this country.
Oh swell......after all the happy talk, the Republicans are getting ready to crawl back into their "no tax increases" hole. They just won't be happy until they see the stock market tank, and our credit rating take another hit. Good Americans these guys......
Who cares GOP! You agreed to the terms, now deal with it!! It's not the president's problem. It's yours. The President will call your bluff. Bank on it! LOL
Unless we push these Senators and Representatives to solve this fiscal problem nothing will be done. They firmly believe that we do not care and would not do anything to get them moving. They will sit back and watch us all pay higher taxes and cause another fiscal crisis. Somehow they believe this helps their political party and their political standing. Perhaps we should be picketing the Congress and all the places our politicians meet. Of course just knowing that we will be working against them may be enough. But we really need to find new candidates to start running against those who do not support the decisions that will get our economy working agians.
Lol! John Bohner and his sidekick Mitt McConnell look like a couple of undertakers!!
These two angry old white men need to get with the program, or get out of the way!!
Democrats won this election! And Social Security is OFF the table!! It has absolutely Nothing to do with the deficit!!
Take your doom & gloom and shove it! America is tired of your "Party of No!"
The liberals don't want any compromise they are hell bent of destroying our economy so they can save us all !
If the fiscal cliff becomes reality, the people pictured above should be the first over and the last back on their feet. Everyone complains about having to pay taxes, and that's understandable. What really irks me is the fact that during all of this political posturing and head butting, there's been absolutely no mention of the pay, benefits and pension plans of the elected mirror kissers. No person elected to the house or senate, has offered to mention their meal ticket, yet we (the people), are pushed up against the cliff daily. Is anyone out there as perplexed about this as me? And if not, why.
The so-called "fiscal cliff" is way overdone. Let the chips fall where they may. Let taxes increase and defense spending go down. Maybe that is what conservatives have been pining for: scorch the economy in order to rebuild later on.
There are obvious and rationale ways to deal funding social security and medicare. First, let every American pay the same percentage of their income into Social Security by lifting the $106,000 taxable income limit to infinity, meaning that the top 1% pay the same percentage of their income as the the lower 99%. Second, raise the medicare tax to about 3% from 1.6%. Then make sure Medicare and Medicaid and the Affordable Care act provide the ability to do collective bargaining for drugs and services. All common sense, fair stuff. Will Congress and the White House propose anything like that? Anything is possible.
There is no intention for Obama to compromise on anything-all talk and Blame-not what a leader is supposed to do. Repubs have offered revenues--now where are the spending cuts Mr president??
It's all about drama now. Americans themselves offer more ideas than our worthless Congress. Examples: How about lifting the cap on Social Security contributions – paying a percentage of every dollar earned? How about limiting the purchasing power of food stamps to basic food items – excluding unhealthy foods and luxury food items? How about flat-out eliminating subsidies to oil companies? Why not not paying the Congressional salaries for time spent w/o a balanced budget to operate our government? How about big tax breaks for healthcare providers to Medicare and Tricare patients? How really requiring public service (picking up trash, planting trees, cleaning public buildings, etc.) for people on welfare? Why not tie rates for student loans for college to community service, grades, charity work performed, and the economic status of the families? Why not just stop all foreign aid – all of it – 100%? These may not be good ideas but they are IDEAS! If I can pull these things out of an orifice in three minutes why can't career politicians come up with something?
Republicans just cannot help themselves. They will be deceptive till the end of time. Now, they are claiming that – low and behold – they will be willing to bend on immigration. But check the details of what they are offering. As usual, they are offering exactly what they wanted before the election. Their idea of immigration compromise is to expand the H-1B visa program that allows highly skilled foreign workers to have temporary visas to work in the U.S. What this actually does is allow corporations to employ technically skilled foreigners at lower wages than they would have to pay to technically skilled U.S. citizens ! ! ! This is unlikely to help many Latinos and will hurt U.S. workers and wages. It's the typical Republican Trap.
Don't complain if you voted for Obama.
Maybe it is time the American people take to the streets and scream at the top of our lungs that these idiots work for us!!! Now sit down and get something done. If we fire our guns and burn a few buildings–will they then pay attention!! Haven't enough people lost jobs and suffered loss. It is time people –take to the streets–
It's amazing that Mitch McConnell asks how to finally "do what's right for the country". This from a man who refused to cooperate with the U.S. President, Mr Obama. This from a man who wanted the President to fail but, instead, failed badly himself. This from a man who did his part to hold all Americans hostage in areas of health, employment and national debt while protecting the very wealthy. Mr. McConnell is not to be trusted, ever!
Republicans 60 and over need to be fired or replaced with new blood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Agreement will never happen. Obama wants us to go off the cliff so he blame it all on the Repubs and try to push through more drastic "reforms" down the road. He wants this confrontation that's why he keeps putting off the hard choices that need to be made with the social programs that are causing much of this problem. The conservatives should NOT cave in to taxes on the wealthy. Either we ALL get relief through maintaining the current tax package (which is NOT a tax increase) or we all get hammered together. Then when all the Obama supporters are feeling the pinch maybe they will wise up and throw some of these Dems out of power. The Repubs must hold true to their values....lower taxation. Remember what happened to George Bush senior when he caved on his pledge of "read my lips...no new taxes" and then he compromised with the Dems and did just that...he raised taxes. Then the Dems called him a liar when reelection time rolled around. Don't cave Repubs. Stick to the game plan.
Lets not be fooled by the political BS coming out of the worlds largest adult daycare (Washington) by politically
selfserving so called public service politicians. If they were truly interested in addressing the current and coming bugetary crisis, why are member regardless of their political leanings talking about some meaningful spending and revenue raising issues such as but not limited to: salary reduction and pension reform/elimination of political burecrates. Control of excess expendures such as but not limited to the monthly rental charges paid for the shipping containers seen and used overseas. The monthly rentals on these meet or exceeds the cost of buying them outright. Why is the US providing financial aid to some 90+% of the countries on the planet. The list goes on. No, they would rather cut SSI, medicare, unemployment or other programs that are bentificial to many citizens who the political elite catagorize as entilement programs. Redistribution of wealth through taxiation is Marxism/Socialism. It didn't work in the rest of the world, what makes anyone think it will work here. Lets have a an equtable taxation system instead. Let them eliminate their taxpayer provided perks. Why are our so called political leaders leadingg us down the road to socialism? Lets stop the stupidity – let them fully understand, they work for us, not us for them.
Why o' why are Democrats so fixated on bringing more money into a completely ineffecient and ineffective government. NO TAX increases for anyone until AFTER the government can prove that they will handle our money properly!
if they can't get this done in 2014 their will be a lot less repos in congress. Tired of these clowns holding up this country and the middle class.
It's time to end Mr. Norquist's ego trip. His pledge is the 800 pound gorilla in the room that is tearing the country apart.
There should only be ONE pledge taken by our elected officials and that should be " The pledge of Allegiance to the United States."
Great idea, "no new taxes" , but times change. I'm tired of hearing the same old, "we raise taxes but then we don't cut revenues."
Well you know what, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me".. There is no reason why revenue cuts can't be enforced if done right.
Isn't that part of why we're teetering on the cliff anyway? Didn't Congress block a debt ceiling hike unless there were cuts?,,, well here we are with those cuts that made the country bleed (rating downgrade) and guess what,,, they are gonna happen,, so it is possible to get both, revenue increase AND revenue cut,,, which is what we need.
And where was Congress' conscience when they gave "The Bush Tax Cuts"? ,,, tax cuts that we couldn't afford,,, tax cuts that we have had to borrow money to pay for, year after year. An borrowed economic stimulus that makes Obama's post crash Recovery Act seem like a just drop in the bucket.
So I say NO to Mr. Norquist, its time for Congress to act responsibly, to do what is right for all of America, we cannot lead this country out of its fiscal mess when Congess has one hand tied behind its back.
Their duty is to the country and not to this ego maniac. The quicker we make him irrelevant, the quicker we will get America to a much better place.
So what's the first thing Obama does after re-election regarding the fiscal cliff, he invites union thugs to the White House. Now they can do for the country what they did for Hostess.
There will be another Continuing Resolution and another Continuing Resolution and another Continuing Resolution for the next 2 years in hopes the Liberal's can sell their next disaster. after the next election. Otherwise why is the Adminstration stalling?
When the Democrats offer up real spending cuts, Then the Republicans will offer up tax increases.