December 28th, 2012
09:16 AM ET
10 months ago

Senators split on White House fiscal cliff meeting

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."


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. rc

    The problem is that both parties, our President included are only interested in scoring polirtical points rather than solving problems. Obama himself pointed out that Warren Buffet pays less than his secretary. That is not becuase his rate is lowers, but becuase less of his income is sbuject t the rate. Yet when Boehner suggests that revenue gets raised by limiting reductions, Obama refuses. To me that looks lke wanting to inflict pain more than solving a problem. Republicans on the other hand, need to make some concessions as well. Both need to recognize and respect the other parties closely held beliefs and concnetrate on the middle ground.

    December 28, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. greg

    As an American, I'm moremost disgusted with Corker. He and his bought-off colleagues by the rich are totally worthless.

    December 28, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Sagebrush Shorty

    Obama should just stay in Hawaii and let the house and senate fight it out. Obama is not acting as the President of all Americans,he is acting like the head of the Democratic Party. His job should be to mediate,not to negotiate.

    December 28, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Tim

    If Obama and democrats wanted a deal they would have worked on passing something in the senate by now. The GOP needs to hold out and wrap it into the debt ceiling deal.

    December 28, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. Wandering CPA

    What kills me in all this was the near silence from both parties on the subject of fiscal restraint when Bush started a war and then cut taxes all while enacting an unfunded prescription drug benefit within Medicare. I say go over the cliff. While taxes will go up, spending in general, and on defense in particular, will go down. This combination of events is the only way to sort out this mess.

    December 28, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. realist512

    There is absolutely no reason to blame democrats for this one. Republicans just need to agree to Obama's most recent offer, and we can get done with this small piece. Then, let us go after the big issues: create a more competitive economy, create a competitive work force, growl innovation and research, create jobs, reduce health care expense, tackle entitlements, etc. Congress just has no sense of what they should do. We need problem solvers rather than politicians!

    December 28, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. danny592

    Extreme right (tea party) are holding us hostage because they worship green, and grover, and then they run to church on sunday to be blessed , then monday they back to screwing middle class. What a shame, Republicans aren't really Americans, just corporate raiders.Bought and paid for by lobbyists.

    December 28, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    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.
    -----------------------
    You're wrong, Senator. You forget, Boehner has no leadership or control of his caucus in the House.

    It doesn't matter what the White House and Congressional leadership agree on. It was the Tea Party that concocted the sequestration bill after having rejected the compromise worked out between Obama and Boehner. The House has already passed a draconian bill that offers no revenue, while shifting the sequestered defense cuts onto domesttic programs. They will not pass another bill to resolve the stalemate.

    December 28, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Feedup Again

    I believe we should consider a national recall vote for all of Congress and hopefully replace them all with rational representatives. The American voter needs to take charge of this situation.

    December 28, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Todd

    The only person that wants to go over hte cliff, is Obama. Then he can take credit for lowering taxes next year. There absolutely should not be a tax increase without a balanced budget agreement and compensating spending cuts. Whateer amount taxes go up, spending should go down. Both sides have to be addressed. Let's stop the madness. Quit blaming the Congress fore everything. They are all equally as quilty. From the President, to the Senate, to the House. I'm sick of all of them.

    December 28, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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?"

    In a word: lobbyists. Unfortunately, TeaPers haven't quite figured this out yet. They still insist their Representatives are working for THEM ... not the lobbyists who - incidentally - have turned the Grand Old Party into a world-wide laughingstock.

    Well ... OK ... both the TeaPers and lobbyists have turned the GOP into a laughingstock.

    December 28, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. SkippyCanCan

    I hope the Dems and Obama stick to their guns about higher tax rates for the top 2%. Not so much because I support that policy, being in the top 2% myself, but because that is the platform Obama ran and won on, and that clearly seems to be the position supported by the majority of Americans based on every poll taken on the subject. Yeah, they also need to cut spending on entitlements, but it's time Obama and the Dems stood up to the unelected Grover Norquist's and Rush Limbaugh's in the world on behalf of the majority of the American people. Let no one forget that what they are talking about is going back to Clinton-era tax rates – remember how much that hurt the economy back then? We should be so lucky again.

    December 28, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  13. CaliforniaAC

    Let the hunger games begin and may this country suffer the consequences of protecting the rich.

    December 28, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. dave

    We need to hold the Incumbents responsible. All of them. A movement needs to start to vote "NOT I" which stands for no votes for an Incumbent. Start wearing stickers. If the fiscal cliff is not avoided, our elected officials will not receive a vote if they were part of the Congress that allowed this totally avoidable mess to occur. We really need to send the message about a re-election requirement.

    December 28, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. W.

    With the salary that the taxpayers provide to the congress and other members of our government, I think it would be a small gesture of gratitude for them to attend any and all meetings. Otherwise I am sure that there can be space made available in an unemployment line for someone who believes that duty to one's country is subordinate to the interests of powerful and influential palm greasers. The American public's tolerance of an incompetent and opaque representation in Washington is becoming quite rarified indeed.

    December 28, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Todd wrote:

    The only person that wants to go over hte cliff, is Obama. Then he can take credit for lowering taxes next year. There absolutely should not be a tax increase without a balanced budget agreement and compensating spending cuts.
    --------------
    Your memory fails you, sir. Likewise for your information sources.

    1. It was the Tea Party who rejected compromised, and concocted and passed the sequestration bill. Don't blame Pres. Obama. This crisis is the exact scenario envisioned by the Tea Party.
    2. When offered a compromise of one dollar of revenue for every 10 in spending cuts, the Tea Party rejected it unanimously.

    December 28, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    With Obama showing no sign of any compromise on anything at all, there will be no deal possible.

    December 28, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. ObaWendon

    This is a sad day in American History. We are no longer the greatest country on Earth, but we have become the laughing stock of the planet. Elected officials who are hell bent on ruining our financial health to further the wealth of 2% of the country. I hope each one of them ends up in poverty so they can see what it is like to try to pull themselves up and get clubbed back down by some Tea Party idiot. Don't forget the shake the hand of the burgler as he takes the rest of what you own because there is no money to keep these people in prisons. If you wonder why the bridge around the block fell into the river and you are stuck on the other side, you can thank the Tea Party for that too since they don't want to pay for the roads and bridges and things that actually keep this country moving, however little that is these days.

    December 28, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. Revcarrie

    The "deductions" the Republicans want to eliminate are the ones the middle case use to save us some taxes and to be able to afford to live at all ....like mortgage interest, college deductions for our children, student loan deductions ECT. The very rich don't even touch/or need these things because they cn afford live without them. The Republicans aren't talking about applying more taxes to investment income or stop THEIR deductions for their taxable income like overseas accounts.....OH NO! They want to cut any and all social programs for those who need them to live. Notice there isn't a Rep or Senator who is willing to start with their own paycheck, benefits or perks to save this country money, in fact they are likely to give themselves a raise for "working" so hard at not working at all! What really amazes me is there are still non-wealthy Republican seniors who are still "buying" into these Republican stories. Wait until Jan 1st-30th when they finally realize what they have been supporting ....when the chickens come home to roost and they have less to live on and less Medicare to pay their medical needs. It will be too late then.

    December 28, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. CaliforniaAC

    Want to place blame? Follow the money.

    December 28, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. penguin

    Why bother?!!!!

    December 28, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. GOP = Greed Over People

    A question to all who think President O wants us to go over the cliff.

    Why would he offer a compromise of 400k instead of 250k to prwcent the cliff, when if we go over the cliff taxes on all will go up?

    Why offer a chained CPI as a sweetener for not going over the cliff?

    Guess if he was white, these two aspects would have been acceptable to the House GOP?

    One thing for sure after 1/1/13 the GOP will get neither.

    Keep up those "purity" tests and honoring those private lobbyists tax pledges!

    December 28, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. Bill

    I continue to be amazed at comments from some people. First and foremost, you cannot blame any one party for the situation we're in. Both parties are at fault and that includesthe president elect. Second, it amazes me that our country has digressed to the point where people think someone else should support them our make certain they have a comfortable lifestyle. Lastly, how can people continue to ignore the FACT that taxing the rich more will do absolutely nothing to rectify the debt problem. We have a spending problem. If you want to correct that it means you must stop spending.

    December 28, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oops. It has finally occurred to the TeaPers that if we go over the cliff all those freeloaders in Red States aren't going to be happy campers. Good. Coming from a Blue State I can only say it's about time all the Red States start giving more than they get. But, hey. Blaming Obama won't matter. He can never again run for President of the United States. Your own Congressional Representatives and Senators can. And since it is they who are holding up any "deal" ... it is they who will be held responsible.

    Good luck blaming Obama. It didn't work for the past four years. It won't matter in 2016.

    December 28, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. ted van tol

    Juat go over the cliff and repair the damage for all Americans urning below 250.000 dollar while using the taxbenefits for jobs.

    December 28, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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