Fiscal cliff: Lawmakers divided over final talks
December 30th, 2012
10:43 AM ET
10 months ago

Fiscal cliff: Lawmakers divided over final talks

(CNN) - Republican and Democratic lawmakers were split Sunday over the trajectory of last-minute efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, a series of major tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in just after the start of the new year.

While President Barack Obama has called on the Senate to pass legislation that would extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said such action fails to solve the country's deficit problem.

"The president is doing nothing about the addiction that his administration has to spending. He's the spender in chief," Barrasso said in a panel discussion on CNN's "State of the Union." Barrasso maintained "there is no deal yet," saying he spoke Sunday morning with those on Capitol Hill working on an agreement.

"This is going to continue, I think, on until tomorrow," he added.

With two days to go before the January 1 deadline to avert the fiscal cliff, the ball now rests in the Senate's court, and the pressure is on to come up with a deal that will pass both chambers.

A panel of lawmakers on "State of the Union" disagreed over what could pass in a final package. Republicans, such as Barrasso, say current negotiations don't go far enough in tackling spending, while Democrats stress an urgent need to extend tax cuts for incomes under a certain threshold.

The president campaigned on a message that tax cuts should be allowed to expire on households making more than $250,000, while Republicans have pushed for all Americans to benefit from continued tax cuts. In the ongoing negotiations, Congress has yet to come up with a plan that firmly sets a threshold figure.

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said if the new terms in a negotiated deal ultimately include an increase in the threshold to $400,000, then it was a "possibility" that she might compromise and vote for the package. She added the extension of unemployment benefits must also be part of the package.

"It is time for everybody to be all in," Stabenow said, calling for the wealthiest to pay higher tax rates. "This is common sense. This is about everybody participating to solve the problem."

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, however, said the math doesn't add up and insisted the only real way to close the gap is to make serious cuts on the spending side.

"Even if you put back all the revenue you would get from those higher taxes, you still have a deficit. That's what we're trying to change," he told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

As a measure of last resort, Obama said if no deal is reached, he would call for an up-or-down vote on a "basic package" that would prevent a tax hike on the middle class and extend unemployment benefits.

Asked Sunday if Republicans would stand in the way of such a vote in the Senate, Barrasso said they're going to "continue to focus on cutting spending."

Pressed further on whether he would try to stop the vote, the Wyoming senator said, "I don't think anybody's going to stop it, but I'm not sure they have the votes to pass it."

Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland, however, said Republicans were causing friction in the continued talks.

"The American people deserve an up-or-down vote. The Republicans should commit to that," Edwards said.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Millionaire

    I am so thankful for the millionaire politicians I am able to purchase, and their willingness to protect my interest even if average wage Americans who only make $48,000/year lose even more wealth, healthcare, jobs, and their homes! I am just fine, and as long as millionaire politicians can legally accept my bribes, I will continue to extract more wealth from my fellow Americans and America's economy. God bless the United Corporations of America!

    Thank you GOP, and thank you Dodd and Schumer for protecting my investment profits. As if these monies aren't "extracted" from America's economy. I LOVE free money!

    December 30, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. kevin

    The answers have been there for years but no one has the guts to do it! Anyone who does make suggestions to swallow our medicine and sacrifice is immediately attacked. Fair-tax, balance budget amendment, get rid of baseline budgeting, force govt to follow accepted accounting principles not the fuzzy math that would get the rest of us thrown in jail. Put social security back in it's own trust and pass amendment that Congress can never touch it again. Do like Rep. Paul Ryan said with Medicare-when you are eligible you get the same options that govt employees get. Clean out all unnecessary govt programs. Drastically downsize govt. by getting rid of these bloated agencies like education. Just to serve a kid a lunch requires a master degree to figure out the state and federal rules. K.I.S.S. keep it simple stupid. But like I said ain't anybody got the guts or moral character to do it. Too many of you just love all the govt programs until it is time to pay the piper and suddenly you expect someone else to pay the bill while you get a free ride.

    December 30, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. unhappy

    Wait until 1/114 when Obama Care kicks in. The average american has no idea what's coming. It's going to make the
    fiscal cliff look small. Term limits please!!!

    December 30, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Mom

    You know what I get for not doing my job, not meeting deadlines? Fired. They should all be fired.

    December 30, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. w5cdt

    Well I see there is no good news anywhere this morning. I guess it doesn't sell.

    December 30, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Carl Sandburg

    I believe Paul Ryan and his committee have proposed a budget with specific cuts and fixes. To say that the Republicans haven't proposed anything is ridiculous. It's been there for more than a year, I think. Start with that and then negotiate and compromise.

    December 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. kevin

    Well it is good to see all the expert economists out there. Let us see here....Obama care requires makers of medical devices to pay a 2 1/2% tax on their products. Since by law they can't pass it on to the consumer, doctor, hospital, or insurance how does a business cover this tax? Let us see....make far less products, lay off workers, change workers to part time status, or go belly up. The president spend $4.1 billion on vacations, golf, parties, etc. showing fiscal leadership. Reid has sat on his butt and hasn't passed a budget in almost 4 years. In fact Reid hasn't allowed any bills from the House to be sent to the Senate floor including an extension of the Bush tax cuts last August! Just face it.... all you experts are killing us and all the proof I need is that Mexico's economy is ahead of us.

    December 30, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Sigh

    America no longer is a country of wild Wild West in which most white folks, by creating little undercapitalized businesses and running away from its Pluralism ideals, went on to live high on the hog, and suppress the minorities as their new slaves ('Republican Party'). Now new demographics have spoken; please rule for living together and not against each other by stopping the huge economic disparities and nefarious social engineering of the past. Majority of the Americans are telling you Suppression Enough Already, SEA vs. your TEA Party.

    December 30, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. rickp530

    We had our chance to vote this "no do republican congress" out. America blew it so now we have to pay for the republicans that we kept in. This is not President Obama's fault. Expect four years of nothing being accomplished.

    December 30, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. trumpet

    I am a millionaire and GOP takes my bribes :) GOP represents 1%. Shame on GOP, i would like to pay more taxes.

    December 30, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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