Lawmakers' long weekend
December 5th, 2012
04:17 PM ET
2 years ago

Lawmakers' long weekend

Washington (CNN) - They're leaving.

With the nation heading full steam toward the $7 trillion fiscal cliff, the House of Representatives is taking a break without a deal in place yet to avert the mix of steep spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in a matter of weeks.

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The rancor between the White House and the Republican leadership is so thick that there aren't even private talks taking place to address the issue.

With the cliff unresolved and negotiations in limbo, economists are now talking recession, financial markets are getting nervous, and ordinary Americans are taking stock of their finances.

Although polls suggest the public will more likely blame congressional Republicans if a deal isn't reached, lawmakers from the Republican-controlled House streamed out of the Capitol in a midweek scene that typically plays out on Fridays.

House GOP leaders said they sent their members home because there is nothing that requires a vote.

"I'll be here and I'll be available at any moment to sit down with (President Barack Obama) to get serious about solving this problem," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said during a news conference on Wednesday.

The move also sends a message to the White House: It's your move Mr. President.

Both Republicans and Democrats have expended effort taking the fiscal cliff messaging effort outside the Beltway. It started when the president asked his supporters to use social media to pressure their legislators to move on the fiscal cliff.

Then the president headed to Pennsylvania to hold a rally-style event to gather support for his fiscal cliff proposals. Finally, labor groups joined in asking their supporters to contact their representatives.

Republicans weren't too far behind.

The speaker's office announced shortly after the president began his PR effort that Republican members will roll out a series of events in Washington and in their districts across the country with small business owners to frame Democrats demands to oppose upper income tax cuts as a threat to new jobs.

That's just what they are headed home to do.

"The most pressing issue is clearly the fiscal cliff yet the president and his staff have not even directly responded to us on our letter to him," an aide to Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters.

"If the President is not serious about working to fix the problem, then Members will go back to their districts and meet with small business owners who would be negatively affected by the President's tax rate hikes," the aide said.

Both the stakes and egos are in huge in this game of chicken, political experts say.

"Both sides need to recognize there's not enough time to go big right now," said David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States who has advised lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on crafting a debt resolution. "You don't do grand bargains in even numbered years. The public has not been adequately prepared for the big sacrifices that have to be made."

Even as House lawmakers left town, leadership inched toward a deal.

Boehner acknowledged that taxes on the wealthy will have to increase-a nod to the political reality of the impact of Obama's re-election victory and public support for the higher taxes on that group. He also challenged Obama to sit down with him to hammer out a deal.

Obama, however, continued to insist on Republicans first ensuring no tax hike for anyone but the top 2% of Americans as a first step toward a broader agreement on tackling the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.

We've been here before.

In 2009 members of congress were verbally pummeled by their constituents over health care reform when they returned to their home districts for the August recess.

And during the following midterm elections, voters showed lawmakers exactly what they though of that move by ushering in a new wave of tea party backed freshmen.

Two years later, it's business as usual.

Cantor has said the chamber won't adjourn for the holidays until a workable solution to the fiscal cliff is in place.

In the meantime, there's only so much of the brinksmanship the public will tolerate.

Republicans might feel the pressure for negotiations to succeed, but the White House shouldn't be smug, Walker said.

"I don't think this was a mandate election at all," Walker said. "For anyone to say they have a clear mandate from the public I don't think is credible. The public is saying we're tired of the partisan bickering we want you to go to work and do your jobs."

– CNN's Dana Bash, Allison Brennan, Tom Cohen and Deidre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Fiscal Cliff
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. MilitaryAF

    I could see the rich getting somewhat upset over RAISING of their tax rates. This whole issue is over RETURNING their tax rates to pre-Bushwhack tax-cut level. The rich shouldn't have received these tax-cuts to begin with! Republican trickle-down-economics is a fancy term for 'we rich people $hit on you little people'. Obama is right to reject a simple offer of passing tax-cuts for $250k voted on & on paper with signatures.

    December 5, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  2. Jim

    This is pure posturing. Sure, the President is more than willing to slash Defense, but the point here is to turn up the political pressure to try to force a compromise that contains no compromise on his part at all.

    December 5, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. Indeigrl

    Obama has made it crystal clear that he has no intention of negotiating a bipartisan solution to the greatest threat to our national security. If he did he would not have humiliated the GOP and the people who him by saying he wanted a "balanced approach," then submitting an offer with no spending cuts. It's despicable that he recruits his base, which he knows very well do not have clue about the catastrophic nature of the deficit, to bully those in Congress who do understand the catastrophic nature of the deficit. If Obama had a shred of integrity, he would stop throwing out information to the public, sequester members of Congress at Camp David, and hammer out a solution. Instead he plans
    A 20 day trip to Hawaii.
    His goal is to run us off the cliff and back into recession for the political payoff of destroying the GOP for a long period of virtually unopposed Democratic rule. His plan is to get conservative GOP members kicked out by forcing them to sign on to higher tax rates, when he could get the same revenue getting rid of tax loopholes as Simpson Bowles recommended, and hit the truly wealthy instead of $250k professional couples.
    Stupid Obama base. They are screaming for Obama to finish off the GOP, for long term unopposed Democratic rule. In 2014,"Rich" will down to $225k. In 2016, $200k. Then in 2020 when Boomers are seriously straining Medicare, SS, and Medicaid, and Obamacare costs $6 trillion for it's second decade, "rich" will suddenly go all the way down to $60k.

    December 5, 2012 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. IvotedforObama

    I'm 100% for making the rich pay their fair share. I am also 100% for cuts in welfare also. I was a welfare worker and I see how many of them just use the system and don't want to work.

    December 5, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. Lee Jensen

    No work, no pay! Same people, same problems!

    December 5, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  6. tom

    Do not forget this worthless pres is going to Hawaii on vacation for 2 weeks this month

    December 5, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  7. meetings with not-as remarkable men

    sounds like in order to avoid any inconvenience, the elitists are ready to settle to get out of town in time for the Nibiru party.

    December 5, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  8. LouAZ

    Do the guys in Afghanistan get to come home for a few days ? Fair is fair, right ?

    December 5, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  9. Crash Davis

    The politicians have their pledge and so do I. Anyone currently in office who does not solve this fiscal problem before the day it goes into effect will never again get my vote. If I don't live in your district, I will still do whatever I can to make sure you are voted out of office. That is MY pledge.

    December 5, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  10. Floyd from Illinois

    Just a question – did Congress adjourn, and if not, are there enough Reps left in DC to constitute a quorum?

    Ram through an economic fix the same way the British Parliament outlawed the slave trade – do it while the opposition is stupid enough to leave town.

    December 5, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  11. Neahkahnie

    Gusee what? The Democrats won. Re-elected Obama, gained seats in the Senate and in the House. The country is on the side of the President. Get over it, take your meds and get a nap.

    December 5, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  12. Mary1972

    What do you expect from the "Do Nothing Congress"? This is nothing but political posturing and meaningless bravado.

    December 5, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. MiamiMikey

    The republicans are still trying to salvage their failed election season – losing house seats and senate seats! and the presidency! The tide has turned and they want to take us over the cliff and blame Obama! Angry white republicans have no clue!!!! If Romney had won they would have claimed a mandate to repealing the affordable health care act to making sure the wealthy get reduced tax rates and cutting all entitlements! Go figure?

    December 5, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  14. joe

    IM for goverment and president reform!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS is Proof that the goverment and president do not care about THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES IT Seems they work for the world!!!!!!!!!!!! And not the USA they say they were going to tax the rich and when that doesn't work they threaten to cut programs for the poor. What a Bunch of low life's I Think WE Need to cut the president and congress And LOOK TO FIND A KING THAT ONLY WORKS at Helping The united states untill were out of debt! WE Would only help poor starving countrys

    December 5, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  15. Name

    So the Republican-controlled House is calling it a day without a deal that might prevent an economic collapse because they are not willing to risk raising taxes on the incomes of folks who make in excess of $250,00 a year? I think I'm going to remember that.

    December 5, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  16. MBW

    At this point, it appears the only deal which is acceptable to both parties is the one they have already agreed to. That is the sequestration bill that has already been passed. The budget cuts in the sequestration bill is actually less than what House Republicans are calling for now. And as far as the tax cuts expiring, we were already paying as much in taxes during the Clinton Administration. During that period we had a budget surplus. What has tanked the economy is the wars that Bush started and the foreign tax in the form of high priced foreign oil. So, just let the sequestration play out, remove our troops from the middle east, and support increased drilling in our own country and Canada. Then
    adjust the economy as needed if a recession appears to be developing.

    December 5, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  17. Tyrone,Schenectady NY

    Not the same House that says the President is too busy doing other things rather than negotiate. They should be banned from leaving Washington until they get their job done. This type of productivity would get the average American FIRED!

    December 5, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  18. paul

    TeaPartyMike, what are talking about? Senate has already passed a bill extending bush era tax cuts for incomes under $250,000 and waiting for House approval.

    December 5, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  19. LL

    They should all be fired for lack of productivity.
    Unacceptable. Not one should be reelected.

    December 5, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. Jim

    Nice to see we have a strong bi-partisan effor to resolve this. It's time these idiots on both sides sit their butts down and figure out the differences. If not, then they should ALL be fired.

    December 5, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  21. kathy/Minnesota

    WHAT? HOME FOR WHAT? THEY HAVEN'T DID ANTHING. This is exactly why the Repubs LOST the election and exactly why the congress has a 0% approval rating. What a bunch of overpaid loons.

    December 5, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  22. henry

    sent home early huh. dont you have a deal that can devastate the country to resolve. it seems that republicans and democrats are more interested in trying to avoid being labeled the bad guy by sending all these "messages" to one another, instead of just negotiating

    December 5, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  23. It all adds up!

    My best guess is that the GOP still does not get it? Congress must act or the President won't sign off on it. I Place the Blame on Congress not Obama... What did the Bush Tax cuts do? Where are the Jobs? It just added to the deficit...

    December 5, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  24. discustedcardcarryingRepublican

    Cantor does the schedule and he works for Isreal not the 7th district of Virginia or the United States, if he hadn't redrawn his district lines he would have been sent packing to the other country of his citizenship "ISREAL"

    We as in all Americans need to clean everyone out of Congress and then start with term limits, pay cuts, public record of all discussions involving every lobbyist group, the end of gloden retirement packages for politicians, stand alone bills, an end to foreign handouts, an end to corporate welfare, campaign finance reform, an end to corporations as people, prison terms for individuals who buy political votes of both parties, $100. individual contribution limits, etc, etc. Serving in Congress should be a privledge not a lifetime career of working against the countrys best interests.

    December 5, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  25. Lance D.

    As Deval Patrick, Barry Obama and John Kerry well know about Massachusetts economy: Healthcare is probably one of the LARGEST industries -- all that PAC money and Obamacare - and the "poor" $85,000/year Bay State Middle-Class who have to pay an extra $2,200/year in tax - and the extra burden of Obamacare to small business - all for Obama re-election. GOP, Romney and Ryan waiting with the "right stuff at the right time" -- Justice before politics soon.

    December 5, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
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