Rhetoric flows at the brink of the cliff
December 29th, 2012
06:00 AM ET
1 year ago

Rhetoric flows at the brink of the cliff

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri ratcheted up the pressure on the other over the fiscal cliff negotiations in their weekly addresses on Saturday.

They sounded optimistic tones about a deal, spoke of the dire consequences of failure, but offered no suggestion the talks had progressed since Friday, when the rhetoric was the same.

Obama suggested that if Republicans oppose a deal or his last-ditch proposal "and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that's their prerogative." Blunt, a freshman senator from Missouri who previously held a top leadership position in the House, blasted Democrats for spending "months drawing partisan lines in the sand."

"We still can avoid going over the fiscal cliff if the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate step forward this week and work with Republicans to solve this problem and solve it now," Blunt said.

The clock is running short on a deal to avoid the across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that would trigger automatically in the new year, which begins Tuesday.

Behind the stagecraft are fundamental philosophical differences between the two parties and an agreement reached a year-and-a-half ago to trigger the sequester – those spending cuts which neither side favors – as an incentive to reach a deal.

Feeling the pressure, both sides have spent as least as much effort to win public perception as they have spent negotiating. Talks between Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have appeared to cool just as quickly as they've heated.

Still, both sides claimed optimism after an hour-long meeting on Friday, though Obama explained what he would propose as an alternative if the deal-making falls short.

"If an agreement isn't reached in time, then I'll urge the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on a basic package that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends vital unemployment insurance for Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction," he said in his address.

Blunt suggested the makeup of Washington – Republicans holding the House, and Democrats holding the Senate and White House – was a reason for optimism.

"Divided government is a good time to solve hard problems, and in the next few days, leaders in Washington have an important responsibility to work together and do just that," he said.

But so far, the divisions between the two parties and bodies appear to have hardly been breached.

"The president's proposal to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans won't even pay one-third of the annual interest that's now owed on this massive $16 trillion debt," Blunt said. "In fact, the President's tax hike would only fund the government for eight days. Americans deserve to know: What does the president propose we do for the other 357 days of the year?"

Obama countered, “We’re now at the point where, in just a couple days, the law says that every American’s tax rates are going up. Every American’s paycheck will get a lot smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy. It would hurt middle-class families, and it would hurt the businesses that depend on your spending.”

Neither offered concessions in their weekly addresses, leaving the negotiations behind closed doors.

"You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day," Obama said. The folks you sent here to serve should do the same."


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • President Obama • Roy Blunt
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Blunt, like most republicans, always has an excuse for doing nothing for the American people.

    December 29, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Do not touch SS, Medicare, just raise taxes on 250k or more.

    December 29, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  3. petena

    The GOP just doesn't give a hoot about the American people. Its all about the rich.

    December 29, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  4. Squigman

    The reason you are being bombarded with stupidity from your elected parasites on a daily basis, is because you've seen fit to allow republicans, access to power. After the depression of the thirties, republicans couldn't buy a position in government for many years. The people that lived through those times are scarce today, or you'd hear more about those times. The atrocities brought forth by the republicans in the period leading up to the depression were remembered by the masses, and they didn't vote for republicans for a long time. Today is a different story. The people today seem to embrace the arrogance of the republicans. That may be about to change. The people who've bought in to the philosophy of greed is good, are going over the cliff with the rest of the populace. Hope you've got a chute, and forget to use it.

    December 29, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  5. Bassmaster22

    Perfect example why our form of government doesn't work. And then we try to impose this type of chaotic system on other people. It's too bad that the only people who can change how our government operates are the people who are the most terrified of losing their jobs. And so the world keeps on spinning and nothing gets done.

    December 29, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  6. greatdane2243

    If the senators and the members of congress would for once serve the American people instead of their own special interests, this crisis would never happened.

    December 29, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  7. Larry L

    If Republicans continue to hold the American 99% hostage to protect the fat cats in the 1% I'll be working hard for their defeat in 2014. They only represent the interests of the wealthy – that's absolutely clear.

    December 29, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. davidfarrar

    "Obama impatient as "fiscal cliff" deadline nears"

    Where are the spending cuts? Republican Tea Party members are only trying to insure that those who are 5, 10, 20 years out have benefits when they retire. If we don't have significant cuts in government spending NOW, there won't be funds to pay out more than 10 cents on the dollar.

    Obama is so impatient, he has ordered pay raise for Biden, Members of Congress, Federal Workers. What a guy.

    ex animo
    davidfarrar

    December 29, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  9. ST

    I have never heard of any stubborn people in my short life in living like the current GOP congress. I do wonder whether they do think or not. Hey, men, there is only one person that is Pres. Obama who can drop the ink (sign) on any bill, I repeat again he is the only one. If he is not willing to do so, no one will hold his hand and force him to sign. Can't you take at least a moment to think about this??

    December 29, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    There will be no deal.

    Obama will get his way.........raise everyone's taxes, by astronomical amounts, every which way, and blame the Republicans.

    He has always been, a consummate liar!

    December 29, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. CAWinMD

    Republicans really need to get a different talking point. Yes, the $1 trillion in new taxes will only run the country for eight days. Oddly enough, the cuts that Boehner put on the table, will also only run the country for eight days. So by that logic, the spending cuts are worthless as well, so we shouldn't do those either.

    The point of the tax increases and the spending cuts isn't to solve the debt problem. The point is to stabilize the debt against GDP, which will theoretically give Congress enough time to figure out how to take on the debt problem. However, watching this rolling clown car act, I think that is a highly optimistic assessment of Congress' abilities.

    December 29, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Obama,is dug in. Republicans just can not win this battle,so why even try? We have a war on our hands. Dems will spend and spend until death due us part. Thats why i say we need to gear up for 2014 lets be smart. Let the stupid tax rate go up for the rich,people will see us get deeper in debt and they will know that they are no better off.

    December 29, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Linda

    Republicans have put the noose around their own necks (by letting the tea baggers take over their party) and if they let us go over the "Cliff" then they will be hanging themselves.....and will lose the House in their next election.....

    December 29, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. aaron

    So, Blunt would rather have the non-rich pay the extra taxes since he claims not much revenue will be gained from taxing the rich?

    December 29, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. BeverlyNC

    If Republicans are involved, nothing is going to happen to benefit the American People. They have betrayed us in the Senate with 386 filibusters on every jobs, infrastructure, housing, and even veterans benefits bill. They have let NOTHING even come up for debate much less a vote intentionally working to have our economy fail as Senate Republican Mitch McConnell publically stated "to destroy Obama". That is pure treason coming from the Minority Leader of our Senate to intentionally and with malice try to bring down our nation and our President. All his Republican do-nothing with no character or integrity stood up for what was right and challenged this betrayal that was hurting We the People and our nation's recovery. Not one Republican should be allowed the honor to serve again and should all be voted out of the House and upcoming Senate seats (like McConnell) in the 2014 midterms. When we get moral leaders who take their oath to the People seriously, real work, progress and full recovery will finally happen. Republicans have become non-human with no soul and only a distorted protection of the rich and the greedy corporations who further stomp on the People.

    December 29, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Willie

    In trying to protect the rich, what the GOP is not telling you is that if we go over the cliff, payroll taxes and other tax deductions will go upfor the middle class. Unemployment benefits will not be extended, defense and social programs will also get slashed. How is that going to help the middle class or the economy?? Also, where were the GOP budget hawks when BUSCH got us into two unpaid wars, passed medicare Part D, and passed the Busch tax cuts for the wealthy that got us into this financial disaster? The GOP did not give a Damn about the deficit for 8 years and all of a sudden they want to be considered budget hawks when the Obama took office to fix their mess in 2009. What a coincidence. GOP, give me a break!!! The GOP does not care one bit about the poor, miiddle class or the deficit, they only care about protecting the rich and the NRA who fund their campaigns.

    December 29, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. steven

    As long as greed and corruption lead DC's motives for how they act nothing much will change. Why would they when they are making so much per year no matter what they dont get accomplished plus millions in lobbying and many more millions in back room deals. As one person had stated more or less, Until laws for lawmakers change you can pretty much count out change. as for fighting how has that worked out for the last decade or so? Seems to be a great ploy that gets people divided but at the same time feel empowered to be part of a fight. Its a ploy that has been used for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. On a somewhat different kick,

    December 29, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Name lynn

    i do agree lets pay taxes and the rich will be paying taxes obama dont need blunt hes smell like smoke anyway obama says no cutting in ssi foodstamps and ss an no other government programs thats what the republicans and boehner wants an also they dont want the rich to pay taxes at all they stupid cause guess what the rich will pay higher taxes or their own

    December 29, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Pander Bear

    This fiscal cliff is SOLELY the fault of Republicans – from the moment they were messing around with the debt ceiling they demanded the Super Committee where they refused to accept even a modest tax increase on Billionaires, resulting in the credit downgrade of the entire US. Now they refuse to consider even a symbolic tax increase on people who have prospered because of the economy getting better. And all the while people like Rick McDaniel and Redd defend the wealthy because despite the fact they probably make $45k a year, they like the other teabaggers think they will be millionaires soon and don't want to pay higher taxes.

    December 29, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. batjones

    The President is not a member of Congress and he is not a legislator. He is an executive. Senator Bount, a member of Congress, is a legislator. The President has offered a framework for managing the budget. It is up to Congress to take the President's lead or draft a different piece of legislation that will pass. I do not understand why the President is saddled with doing the job of Congress in the first place. He has other executive duties that need attention. Next, are we going to learn that the Supreme Court does not know how to make an opinion, and defer their decisions to the President? If Senator Blount wants divided government, then he needs to do his job and offer an idea that will pass.

    December 29, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Sorensen

    They are all narrow-minded, stupid, little amateurs who should be fired without pension. Hope the electorate remembers.
    They are turning the US into a banana republic. Senate, House, "Supreme" Court. All useless.

    December 29, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Subramanian Venkatraman

    "Divided government is a good time to solve hard problems..." – A really 'Blunt' statement. When you enter an arena to discuss and decide with this kind of mental makeup, you display to the world that you were unfit to the position you were elected. This seems to the basic philosophy of GOPers also which is blocking smooth legislation. I hope people remember the speeches and actions of Republican law makers post November election, which show they have not changed a bit from their obstructionist philosophy and teach them a lesson during the 2016 elections. We may have a hard time till then, but it will be worth it if the scourge of Republicans has to be eliminated once and for all.

    December 29, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. judy

    blunt looks like howdy doody on acid. going back to the tax codes of over 12 years ago is not raising taxes and the president does not want to raise everyone's taxes.

    December 29, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. Ryan

    Rick MCDaniel/Cicy Redd you guys are unbelievable! Go get your guns and hunker down goverment coming after uuu!

    December 29, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. Kelly

    To much college and not in enough common sense.

    December 29, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |