Washington (CNN) - Senators who cut short holiday vacations to return to a deadlocked Washington offered varying degrees of optimism Friday on the potential of a fiscal cliff deal emerging from an afternoon meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, speaking on NBC's "Today" show, said he was "a little more optimistic today" about reaching a deal that would avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of the year. Both Republicans and Democrats have sounded increasingly downbeat on the chances of finding a solution before the effects of the cliff kick in.
"Sometimes it's darkest before the dawn," the New York Democrat said, pointing to renewed engagement from Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. McConnell and Boehner, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will meet with Obama in the Oval Office at 3 p.m. ET Friday.
"The fact that (Boehner's) come back and the four of them are at the table means to me we could come up with some kind of agreement that would avoid the main parts of the fiscal cliff, particularly taxes going up on middle-class people," Schumer said.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said on CNN's "Starting Point" that a deal must originate between Obama and the four congressional leaders for Americans' confidence to be restored in the federal government.
"It's got to start with the leaders and the president at the White House this afternoon. Hopefully they'll agree to a framework," said Snowe, who is retiring. She told CNN's Ali Velshi that the Democrat-controlled Senate would then vote on any potential measure before sending it to the Republican-held House of Representatives.
"I hope the speaker can get this job done before the end of this year and not defer it to next year," she continued. "We've got to demonstrate we have some capacity left to make decisions in Washington on these very significant issues for the country."
Schumer's and Snowe's optimism was countered by Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who downplayed the importance of Friday's meeting on CBS "This Morning."
"This afternoon's meeting feels too much to me like optics to make it look like we're doing something," Corker said. "Let me just say one more time: This is a total dereliction of duty at every level. I've been very surprised that the president has not laid out a very specific plan to deal with this, but candidly Congress could have done the same, and I think the American people should be disgusted."
He predicted the meeting between Obama and the lawmakers would result in a "kick-the-can-down the road" solution, meaning larger questions on tax increases and spending cuts would be put off until next year.
Asked whether lawmakers understood the importance of striking a fiscal cliff deal before the end of the year, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said her colleagues in the Senate did - but that a different story was playing out on the other side of Capitol Hill.
"We're having a lot of very important, very good, positive conversations between Democrats and Republicans (in the Senate)," she said on "Starting Point."
"The tough part is in the House. They have taken this very extreme position about protecting the wealthiest Americans at all costs, even holding middle-class families hostage to do it. And that really isn't rhetoric. We're seeing it over and over again."
You become what you hate....house tea party members are a the perfect example....these representatives are using tactics of fear and intimidation to try and gain their goals!!! Whatever happened to merit and logic?
The Republicans created the cliff and now they are trying to blame the Democrats. Obama won on a pledge to raise taxes on the 1%, get over it.
Thank you Malloy. Good morning to you.
Shameful, Shameful, Shameful!
Pappy shame on you and i bet you less tahn 250 K and you are still sticking your GOP even though the insist making cuts in order to make the rich enjoy teier walth untax. Shame..................
Pappy shame on you and i bet you less than 250 K and you are still sticking with your GOP even though they insist making cuts in order to make the rich enjoy their wealth untax. Shame..................
The only thing these supposed leaders in Congress and the White Hiouse are interested in is re-election. Now that Mr. O is in his last term, thank God, it's his way or the highway. He has nothing to lose except his legacy. To me that disappeared the moment he stepped into office.
Boener is a traitor to this country and should be arrested, jailed, trialed, and executed.
What would Grover do??? Just do the OPPOSITE!
i dont see a problem with everybody has to pay higher taxes we the poor people have always paid the rich peoples taxes but the rich people never paid our taxes now what go ahead obama make all of us pay higher taxes poor people an middle class people an please make the rich pay higher taxes an come up the fiscal cliff tax high before the first of the year
I say let the cliff happen. You then have you revenue. Then cut the military budget.
What these jerks are likely to do is agree not to cut spending and then to extend tax breaks for everyone.
mr president stick to values and let the repu stream and yell all they want and at the end of the day you will win because
the majority of the american proples support you, and the speaker approval rating is about nine(9) percent.
Reid needs to shut up and pass HR4170 for college students with debt, Reid, just do your job and shut your blow hole.
Will the just say NO Tea Party fiscal extremists try to block any compromise? Will Speaker Boehner risk his speakership for the good of the country? Will enough responsible and brave Republican politicians stand up to Tea Party extremists and bullies? We can only hope sanity returns to the GOP.
these congressmen/women do not need to be representing people.
The deal WAS made a year ago , it will go into effect 1/1/2013. This IS President Obamas plan!
Maybe Mitch McConnell has some proposals he can make – and then filibuster. As long as he has the N.R.A., Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers on speed dial he'll be able to get his orders from the top.
I love these false equivalences. There definitely is a difference between Republican intransigence and Democratic cowardice. Republicans win the contest hands down.
we need better representatives in congress.
We are doomed to this type of non governing until we get the republicans out of the house. They simply do not care about anything except the wealthy elites and are more afraid of Grover Norquist and his stated vow to unseat any of them that votes for a tax increase than they are of the Americans who elected them. It is disgusting and shameful.
Support for the poor and indigent will be guaranteed at the start of 2013. Taxpayers will be making a larger contribution to Uncle Sam. He will use those extra bucks to bolster the lifestyles for millions of the downtrodden and disenfranchised. Santa and his reindeer are gone; but Obama is coming to town and distributing his goodies to the naughty and nice.
Come the next house election the Republicans will lose members like they have never seen before which will leave the party a non issue.
Pappy, you are truly in another universe. McConnell filibusted himself and Boehner couldn't get the Republicans to pass his fallback Plan B. The Senate already passed Obama's proposal months ago.
So, everyone cut back on their holiday to return to "Work"?! In 1776, Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas to defeat the English!! Enough said!! – @Marita.