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. RapidOne

    If the Republicans weren't so insistent of keeping their extremely wealthy friends even more wealthy and screwing over those that can barely subsist, while pushing misinformation and propaganda to their mor0nic followers, then maybe we could have this solved and a better country overall. You can see the way they label everything on Obama and have been obstructing him, berating him, and very much disrespecting him–digustingly toward A SITTING PRESIDENT–that they care nothing about this country and only seek their agenda of making the rich richer, the middle-class dissolve, and the poor barely able to eat while dividing the country, and spreading racist undertones, bigotry and hate.

    You don't have to be especially observant or smart to see this - it is right there in front of us for anyone who is objective. Why do you think the entire world views us in this country with confusion and wonderment–that we can't see how the Republicans are SCREWING US, and nearly half of this country has been brainwashed in the most asinine of ways with the most inane of messages??? The evidence is there and in many other places.

    December 28, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Hal Sinker

    Defense, health care and an outrageous tax code favoring the likes of Romney (that's why the hypocrite wouldn't release his tax returns) must be stopped in its tracks before anything improves here. And then go after the cash rich corporations and their greed-filled CEO's who REFUSE to hire people.

    December 28, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:

    With Obama showing no sign of any compromise on anything at all, there will be no deal possible.
    ---------------
    The Tea Party's definition of "compromise" is no revenue. They have been offered nearly a trillion dollars in spending cuts, and they have rejected it. They passed a bill without revenue and went on vacation.

    We've noticed the word play. The right wing keeps saying Obama offers "no compromises". The right omits the fact that they have been offered deep spending cuts.

    December 28, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Sueb

    There's a shocker: Senators split on White House fiscal cliff meeting

    It's almost like they're afraid if they meet and talk that they might actually accomplish something--and, by golly we can't have that!!!

    December 28, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Grahame Rhodes

    By By USA

    December 28, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. Robert

    This is NOT a tax issue. If Obama gets all of the tax increases he wants, it bridges only about 10% of the deficit. This is a SPENDING problem, and the Democrats don't want to address that. The Republicans are holding out on tax increases until they can get significant spending cuts to go along with them – a balanced approach. Obama is balking – he wants taxes increased and to then discuss entitlement reform. Does anyone really believe he will be serious about entitlement reform once the tax increases are in place?

    December 28, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Jeff

    News for all of you that haven't realized it yet. This "cliff" is the plan and BOTH parties want it to happen. You see they need the tax cuts to expire and the cuts to happen. Since each side has their party backers to answer to, it is the only way to get what their side wants without looking like they gave in to the other side. Then the payroll tax cut will also expire and the health care taxes will start. Revenue is up, costs go down, and they can look like they are fiscally responsible. Those hoping a new bill in 2013 will take those taxes away again for the middle class are dreaming. We are a nation divided and until a person or group puts forth a way to increase revenues (a larger tax base) while keeping wages up and not killing our economy price wise for products, we are stuck with the type of governing we currently have.

    December 28, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. truth777

    Obama and Boehner were working towards a deal, both sides made compromises... then Boehner backed off and came out with Plan B. How can anyone say Obama is not leading and/or not compromising? House GOP is what's holding up progress. Even conservatives have to admit that.

    December 28, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. Rogue351

    Well the senators had better get together on this meeting as well as the cliff. I for one and sick of them getting paid and not doing anything. Senators – Do your job ! Republicans, except your loss and work with the President that was elected by the people. Your hard line stand on taxes for the rich and guns is not going to do a bit of good if people are so poor and can’t eat or afford healthcare. Democrats, you as well need to work with the Republicans to come to compromised deal. So far both have failed. While you are at it, instead of voting yourself yet another pay increase and more outrageous benefits how about doing some trimming on your end. It may not mean much as far as the overall debt but it certainly would be a show of good faith on your part. Currently all we are seeing are a bunch of children. Grow up and act like adults. You are part of the most powerful government in the world so start acting like it. But in doing so remember who you work for, the people. It would appear that ALL of you have forgotten that fact.

    December 28, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. The Film Professor

    Let's just go over the cliff. Happy New Year! Jan 2, let the Senate end the filibuster and pass a bill that keeps rates low for the middle class, and dare the House not to pass it. Obama should also issue an Executive Order raising the debt ceiling and tell Boehner and company to sue him if they don't like it.

    December 28, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. Lisa

    Wow, nobody really gets it. These people we have given power to are all in it together. They don't care about us. It is about power and control and we have let our government get so large that we have no more control over our own rights. All of the "career politicians" need to get a real job and learn what it is like for real Americans.

    December 28, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. truth777

    The SPENDING we need to cut is done by Americans for Americans. Nobody truly wants the spending to stop. The instant you suggest lower spending, then affected Americans come out against it.

    December 28, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. mfmaine

    Sadly, politicians have sacrificed the art of negotiation and compromise to pander to the PACs and lobbyists. The amount of money spent on political campaigns is ridiculous. Politicians no longer think of the voters they supposedly represent as their constituents. Their constituency is comprised of their big money donors and they go to great lengths to represent them.

    December 28, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Ari for Peace

    I read an on article that talked about doctors and it made me think.

    What if the Government was run by Politicians that were more like Doctors?

    First of all, we would know that most problems are caused by the Nation deviating from homeostasis which is a fancy word for balance. Also, you wouldn't see a Doctor running around trying to tell everyone that we need to incentive economic growth when the system is not in balance. Think about how the flu takes your body out of balance. It makes your temperature in your body go up like Global Warming. If you try to grow your muscles when you have the flu, you may end up sicker than before since the resources required to repair the system are being redirected to growth processes, and you can end up with a collapse.

    Politicians would be required to take board exams since, like doctors, they are responsible with people's lives. When problems occur a diagnosis is made which usually involves a report on the causes of the problem which doesn't include finding someone to blame. Also, a prognosis (forecast) would be made on the impact decisions would have on the health of the system. Additionally, goals with plans would be used for rehabilitation and recovery, and reports would use more science and math to get more accurate and precise metrics on the Nation.

    Is it me or do we have a serious problem? Are our politicians idiots, dinosaurs, or mentally ill?

    December 28, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Publius Novus

    Many comments suggest that we "throw the bums out," meaning that we de-elect all incumbents. Those of you writing that don't understand the problem at all. The problem is not the so-called career politicians. They know how to cut deals, how to compromise, and how to get things done. If we had only career politicians in Congress we would not have had this problem in the first place. The problem is the Tea Party fanatics and the so-called citizen legislators. They will not compromise, do not know how to work out disagreements, and don't know how to get anything done. They sleep in their offices, they don't live in Washington, they don't socialize with their colleagues, and as a result, they think of everyone not from their party or section of the country as their enemies. In the short term, Boehner must drop the Hastert Rule and bring legislation to the floor with or without support from the majority of his party, relying on Democratic votes if necessary. In the long term, we must send the Tea Partiers back to whereever they came from.

    December 28, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Sane in Maine

    Who fashioned the "Fiscal Cliff"? The same members of congress who are afraid of falling off the cliff and into the abyss of the unknown. They built this self-imposed Frankenstine and now they can’t seem to get it back on the slab at the lab to fix “him”.

    Here’s what they’re going to do – I heard it on MSNBC from Chuck Todd and it makes perfect sense: The republican controlled congress won’t vote “for” anything at this point as they don’t want to go on record as voting for a tax increase :-( so they’ll go over the cliff and a few days later when the new congress conviens, they will be voting for a tax reduction. :-)

    So everybody – prepare your parachutes because we’re going over………

    December 28, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Ray E. (Georgia)

    I n the days of Marco Polo when he went from Venice to China he did most of his traveling by water. That was because of Robbers, Thieves, Highway Men, Bandits, and other all around nice guys. Nothing has changed. Today those people are elected officials that still think they can help temselves to other people's money. That is why so-called rich people move their money off shore. Just bacause you elected these "Thieves" you can help yourself to their money. It is amazing of how arraogent those liberal's are. They make no secret of their intentions.

    December 28, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. steve

    When it comes to the debt limit if I were Obama I wouldn't negotiate at all. The moneys been spent. Time to pay the bills. ALL debt limit increases should be stand alone bills. If the Republicans don't like it, then lets default and see what they do to clean up their mess!

    December 28, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. truth777

    Obama has offered a trillion in spending cuts. He's compromised from 250K to 400K on taxes. He approved changes to the CPI for Social Security. He's compromised from 1.6 trillion in new revenue to a lower amount. What has the GOP compromised on? Going from 0 in tax increases to increases for 1 million plus. So who isn't compromising? Why do conservatives ignore that Obama has offered spending cuts and that he's compromised far more than the GOP?

    December 28, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Name one time this Congress has been willing to "work with" President Obama and remember their only plan was to "work to make him a one term President". Don't let your memory fail you now.

    December 28, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  21. CryBabies

    Harry and Nancy....Why don't you work with the President behind closed doors, exclude the Republicans, and then tell us later whats in the final product. After all transparency is the cornerstone of your political careers like it was with Obamacare. Oh, don't get to close to the cliff....you two are so slimey that if you slipped, nobody could hold on to you ....one can only wish.

    December 28, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  22. Publius Novus

    "This is a SPENDING problem, and the Democrats don't want to address that. The Republicans are holding out on tax increases until they can get significant spending cuts to go along with them – a balanced approach."
    ___________________________________________________

    Fundamentally, this is not a spending problem. Tax revenues are at historic lows. But puting that aside, what are the spending cuts the Republicans want? Obama has made his revenue demands crystal clear down to the dollar. What we need in order to continue talking is a specification from the Republicans of the specific cuts, with dollar amounts, that they want. What are they? Republicans won't say because they know what will happen if they start listing them. A one-way ticket back to their districts. Why? Because budget cuts sound great as a general idea–but when cuts are specified, no one wants them. With apologies to the late Tip O'Neill, "Don't cut you, don't cut me. Cut that man behind the tree."

    December 28, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. CryBabies

    @ Bill...Tell that to the democrats...the credit card party.

    December 28, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Lynda wrote on page 3:

    "...But, hey. Blaming Obama won't matter. He can never again run for President of the United States....."
    --------------------
    You have not been keeping up with right wing conspiracy theories. There is a rapidly growing sentiment on the extreme right that Pres. Obama will seek a third term by declaring himself dictator. Seriously. There are web sites, political action groups, and companies setting themselves up to thwart this threat to freedumb.

    December 28, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Jeff

    Those who say that the GOP has not offered revenue already are not really paying attention. I think it was already said on this board, but the GOP offered to limit deductions to raise revenue. How do you think the rich pay less than you or I? It's not because they aren't already at a higher percentage rate (because they are) and it follows that a larger percentage means they pay more dollar wise also...but, because they have "enough" in deductions to actually use the deductions, they end up paying less. The Democrats don't want to listen to that. So both parties are at fault here.

    December 28, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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