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. Marie MD

    What was barradso doing when the shrub #43 took us into two unpaid for wars?
    How the car thief dem CA keeps getting elected is beyond me. He thinks he is gods gift to women and he is SO wrong!

    December 30, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    GOP is the biggest MESS and nonsense to this nation. A true statement by me.

    December 30, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It's also been said, and I agree, the Republicans are making total fools of themselves.

    December 30, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Jeff

    Obama's 47%ers are about to get a reality check. Money doesn't grow on trees and entitlements are political tools intended to divide a nation. The best thing for America is to take Obama and his socialistic agenda over the cliff and force him, by law, to cut out his vote buying machine. Time to put America back to work as Romney stated. Unfortunately, 51% said, "screw that!"

    December 30, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Do Republicans even know what THEY want anymore? What a bunch of confused clones. Each parroting the other in listless nothingness.

    December 30, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. Jeff

    The repubs have presented several proposals while the Dems., zero! Childish games from the left. "my daddy's bigger than yours"

    December 30, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. NB Gerry

    As one of the moderators on Meet the Press said after the President's interview: Don't just blame Congress and the President. The majority of the American people are willing to bankrupt our children and grandchildren so long as we aren't inconvenience by spending/benefit cuts or higher taxes. Shame on us.

    If we aren't willing to do some shared sacrifice, then we are no better than Greece. Overhaul the tax system, everyone who earns income should pay some income tax. Make capital gains and dividends taxable as ordinary income. Remove the cap on the Social Security tax rate. Take the sequestration as a starting point on spending reduction.

    I want to see a 10 year plan that actually balances the budget at the end of 10 years. Remember, even if that happens, we'll be over $20 trillion in debt by then, which will be over 110% of our GDP.

    We can't have it our way anymore, we all need to sacrifice.

    December 30, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. Truth in Texas

    I really wish these clowns wouldn't be so partisan. Taxes HAVE to go up SOME, but entitlements and spending HAVE to come down as well for this country to survive. Both parties have pros and cons, so to side strictly with one over the other is ridiculous.

    December 30, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. Jeff

    Make it the "FJ" proposal. Forced job. Let the 47%ers pay a little tax then the can be a part of society and legitimately vote.

    December 30, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Ron Cooper

    Issa on that panel and he is a multi-millionaire and thinks he's God's Gift. In hopes I live until 2014 and maybe, just maybe Repubs will be voted out of the Majority in the House.

    December 30, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Squigman

    We are living in times where the maddest among us are calling the shots. They got there because you, yes you, started believing that you too were among the chosen. You voted republican. After all, you have so much to protect. Like credit card debt, a mortgage that you can barely afford, one or two car payments and cost for schooling the kids. After all of the bills are paid each month, you can barley buy gas for the car. Yes you have made it. You are among the chosen. The next generation is being taught one hell of a lesson. Thanks to you.

    December 30, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Can this group of kids get together and make a freeking decision and do what is right for the county. This is ridiculous.

    December 30, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Ray

    The sad reality is that any combination of tax increases and/or spending cuts the republicans will support are going to be worse for this country that the what is already slated to happen.

    The "cliff" spending cuts are evenly large enough to make a difference. And they're spread evenly between defense and domestic, while protecting SS/Medicare. Does anyone think the republicans are going to agree to anything better than that?

    Same thing on taxes. No one is seriously talking about extending the SS tax cut...so taxes are going up on the working class anyway. And the SS tax cuts need to expire if we want to protect SS. And any tax cuts the republicans are going to support will be heavily weighted towards the wealthy. If my taxes have to go up a few percent in order to get the investor class to pay the same rate I do...then I'm willing to take that hit for the good of the country.

    December 30, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    This president needs to undertake Voter Reform, Filibuster Reform, Tax-Code, Gun-Control law, Immigration Reform. These are the nation's MUST reforms. Four years left. I bet hakes care of us. God bless.

    December 30, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. Anthony

    Republicans, if you are focused on cutting spending, can you name the spending that you want to cut? Republicans have been in control of the House for two years, and they write the actual budget. Surely they can tell people what spending they want to cut by now?

    December 30, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Tim

    The Republicans have failed the nation. If you elect into office those who want to sabotage government you can't be surprised if is is dysfunctional. Our idiot friend believes some mythical 47% should pay for the deficit , not acknowledging that most of those are the elderly living far below the poverty level, military, students and the working poor. Who would you have not eat so that the rich don't have to pay their fair share?

    December 30, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. GOP Hypocrites

    If John Barrasso thinks we have a spending problem, why would he vote to appropriate $636 BILLION to the DoD? That is a lot of spending. The GOP talk out of both sides of their faces and it amazes me how anyone could think that they are concerned about spending when they appropriate $636 BILLION dollars of corporate welfare to defense contractors. Wake up America!

    December 30, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Tony

    Jeff, Obama has 51% of the vote. Romney is the one with 47%. If Republicans don't wake up soon, their 47% are about to get a reality check. Again. In 2014.

    December 30, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. dan

    No debt limit increase. Get you filthy hands out of the pockets of our children and grand children.

    December 30, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. ST

    I do think the Obama campaign should start from now working on mid-term election 2014, the way they did in the past Nov. election. It does not make much sense to elect the President who is pulled by the other side not to implement what he was elected for. It worked well the first two years of his first term, until republicans started complaining that he was tackling a lot at the same time. It should be this way come 2014. That is the only medicine republicans can get and be cured with the disease they have. I hope folks are taking notes.

    December 30, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Sean

    "Jeff Obama's 47%ers are about to get a reality check. Money doesn't grow on trees and entitlements are political tools intended to divide a nation. The best thing for America is to take Obama and his socialistic agenda over the cliff and force him, by law, to cut out his vote buying machine. Time to put America back to work as Romney stated. Unfortunately, 51% said, "screw that!"

    However, you sorely miss the other 1-2% who actually get monies from the government too! Everyone wants their share, and no one wants to give up. Where's the self-responsibility that Ron Paul proposed?

    December 30, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. are122

    Amusing. The only thing the current crop of politicians have been able to do in unison is exempt themselves from Obama care.

    December 30, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Adam Dorfman

    What happened to the American pride of losing only to push its peers to be better....? Why is #2 unheralded? ... After all, theory of relativity has been around for years, have people forgotten that its #2 that determines how great #1 will be … and all the way down to last. That is the answer to American productivity … that is the greatest virtue … an appreciation for those that compete with the best and the ability for second place finisher to gracefully accept having had the wrong idea.
    As such, an IMF report in December showed tax cuts as proposed by Speaker Boehner does not have an effect on the economy. In fact, given that the USD’s is the reserve currency of the world, the country benefits most from taking full advantage of their position by maintaining the annual deficit even if it does not have the savings that other countries require to implement such a strategy. Spending and Revenues are both issues that need to be addressed but the economic environment really only supports dealing with taxation. It’s about timing and Mr. Boehner has terrible timing in his desire to tackle spending now. There's is only down side to his plan. This is not a Keynesian theory, this about controlling the money supply. USA is a unique economy with unique capital flow characteristics.

    At the end of the day, the Republican pushed the issue on tax cuts which have been shown not to work as they hoped. But there’s nothing wrong with that, you change your view and move on.

    Fiscal Multipliers and the State of the Economy – IMF – This is the Title of the report

    December 30, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. Darrell Birck

    Stop judging the future of republican party off the vote of one president election...abortion and gifts played as much as anything in this election as it always does, not to mention the media hype that has made being successful in the country a sin. When it comes to the house, which by design is more in touch with the American population, don't be too sure of the outcome in 2014. 2010 the people spoke that they were not happy with one party being in charge of our government (even though after 18 mns of a super majority they could only pass one bill on health care, that they did not even understand). In 2012 the public said the same thing...the entire house was up for re-election (unlike the senate that only has 1/3 at a time) and yet the public did NOT give the house back to the democrats. No matter how you look at it...the public was and is OK with the republicans being in office....LIVE with it...

    December 30, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. Ann

    One area we should cut back on is members of Congress. Their salaries are too high, their benefits are too high, their perks are too high and the cost of staff, office and other perks for them are way too high. I think a 20% cut acroos the board for Congress would be appropriate and then put term limits inplace. Bet that would get something done and finally they might be paid for what they do.

    December 30, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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