Meeting behind closed doors to resolve the fiscal cliff
November 16th, 2012
10:21 PM ET
10 years ago

Meeting behind closed doors to resolve the fiscal cliff

Washington (CNN) - After cameras left the photo-op of President Barack Obama and congressional leaders at the White House on Friday, the actual meeting got under way with the president explaining how he would like to resolve the fiscal cliff and tackle deficit reduction. House Speaker John Boehner went next and so on, until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi all spoke, a source familiar with the discussion said.

But after that, according to the source, the perfunctory stating of now well-known positions gave way to a free-flowing discussion about how to deal with the fiscal cliff.

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No fireworks, no drama and no lines drawn on how to tackle the problem.

“When the president raised (the issue of increasing) revenue, there was no, ‘no, we’re not moving we’re not doing that,’ and when Republicans raised entitlement reform the president agreed it was needed as part of package that included revenue,” the source said.

While specifics weren't agreed on in the Roosevelt Room, leaders are beginning negotiations already closer to an agreement than during the debt ceiling negotiations last year as Republicans are publicly willing to consider raising revenue, resigned to the fact that they must stop the fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts from kicking in at the new year while tackling deficit reduction through spending cuts, entitlement reform and tax reform.

The White House is encouraged that the four congressional leaders stood together outside the West Wing to voice their support for finding agreement on a tough issue, a bipartisan showing unseen in recent years.

So, what does a deal look like? Some key details are unclear: for instance, how to raise tax revenue. The White House and Democrats want to increase income tax rates on the highest earners. Republicans prefer to look at closing loopholes and eliminating deductions and tax credits.

Both sides will have to, in the end, swallow what they consider bitter pills. This is expected to be a bill that requires both Democratic and Republican votes to pass Congress, which you just haven't seen on many pieces of key legislation in recent years.

The other outstanding issue is how to avoid Fiscal Cliff 2.0.

The White House and Congress must find a way to avoid the fiscal cliff - the tax increases and spending cuts set to kick in at the end of the year - in the near term. Next year they're expected to tackle the bigger items of tax reform, entitlement reform and spending cuts in order to reduce deficit spending. Sources say they will likely link the two by passing a bill to avoid the fiscal cliff that includes a "trigger," a consequence that kicks in if they don't act on deficit reduction. But the fiscal cliff was the trigger linked to increasing the debt ceiling in the deal the White House brokered with Congress last summer. So how can we be sure we don't end up here all over again? Maybe we can't.

Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. skmind

    Stunning how the mainstream media is spinning four people getting in a room with the President, NOTHING comes out, and we think that there is progress of some kind

    Wait till Boehner refuses to budge on taxes by offering Romney's plan of revenues through tax cuts for creators and unspecified deductions, new tax code, Keystone pipeline and extension of the Bush cuts for at least a year.

    I am hoping they go over the fiscal cliff. 500 billion in cuts and tax revenue towards slashing half of the deficit.

    Think about that. The best the dreaded cliff does is cut HALF the deficit.

    Where are the deficit hawks?

    November 17, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  2. Former Republican, now an Independent

    The republicans don' t have a lot of freedom in these meetings. They are being held hostage by Grover Norquist because in their arrogance after the 2000 and 2004 elections they were stupid enough to sign his pledge not to raise taxes for any reason. That pledge is why we have 2 wars on the national credit card that remain unpaid, and a major reason why the national debt is so high. Now they want working Americans to pay for these wars out of their social security, while congress sits back and gets automatic raises every year.

    November 17, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  3. Tommy G

    No more Democrat dirty tricks. Democrats never want to cut spending because that is how they buy their votes and re-election.

    If you want tax increases now, then come up with spending cuts that happen now. If you want future spending cuts then expect future taxes. NO immediate and sure taxes for future spending cuts that are impossible to enforce on future congresses and never actually happen. Otherwise we need to hold hands and walk down the road of fiscal reality. It is not a cliff, it is reality. Democrats need to start living in the real world where governments actually produce, approve and follow budgets. Their fiscal incompetence has been stunning over the last 4 years.

    November 17, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  4. Veron

    Now the president is trying to resolve things with the fiscal cliff the repubilcans are trying to block things because they did not get elected. What are they trying to prove the country is going in to a deeper recession.

    November 17, 2012 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F

    If the president and elected democrats agree with the GOP plan to only give tax breaks to the wealthy and increase military spending, the republicans will have no problem passing the bill.

    November 17, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  6. Romneyhood is Psycho

    LOL. I wonder if John, Mitch, Eric, and "Lyin Ryan" got the message that the American People will not stand for politicians uniting in a treasonous manner to make a duly elected president "a one term president"?? We ain't doing that, fellas. If you don't get your studd together, you're all gone in two years. SO, stop the nonsense NOW!

    November 17, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  7. Marry

    Mr. President, do not let the GOP of the hock!
    They want more time? They had month to think about it and come to a reasonable plan with includes revenue increase (i.e. raising taxes above 250 000,-$ / 500 000,-$). However, the GOP gives the impression that they were so convinced not to have to deal with that "the people’s way" and were busy to DEDUCT 20% from their own and "top" friends taxes that they forgot plan "B"! Dear President Obama – remind them – if need be we will with a 2×4 in 2014!

    November 17, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  8. Disgusted

    Obama didn't care about the financial cliff before he was re-elected. I think he takes off on another trip or vacation before the negotiations are finished. The man doesn't lead. He parties.

    November 17, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. CBP

    They need to meet behind closed doors for as long as it takes to solve the crisis. If that means being in a room together until they come up with a solution then so be it. The time has come for the Congress and the Administration to solve their differences.

    November 17, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Given that Boehner is likely to be challenged for the Speakers position by either Cantor or Ryan, this will probably be his Last Hurrah. All he needs do is get the Republicans who are leaving the House, along with those in "safe districts" to join with the Democrats, and he can pass a bill to prevent the downhill slide.

    November 17, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  11. jpmichigan

    The way to handle this problems, is not by taxing the so called wealth that make $200,000 to $250,0000 and over alone, but to no allow certain dedutions. Why should the wealth that can afford a million plus dollor house be able to deduct the intrest paid on that house, or deduct other homes they own.? Why should the wealth pay lower taxes on income earned by investments, then someone who has to work for a living and makes between $30,000 and $80,000? Why do corporation headed make so much money for lowering workers benefits and pay? Why do social security recepiant have to pay tax on social security? Start changing the Tax code now, by limiting deductions on the wealthy, this surely would increase revenue!!

    November 17, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. Neutral Observer

    Meetings behind closed doors means they are doing things they don't want us to know about. Bend over, grab ankles, and kiss your rear good bye.

    November 17, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Bom

    Who cares? Go off the cliff. It will at least give the revenue needed to get the economy moving. Then the new session of congress can work on tax cuts for middle and lower.
    As far as sequester Let it happen. It will cut defense and other unnecessary spending.
    Neither of these will have any effect on SS or Medicare or Medicaid.
    Seems they are trying to get us all worked up over almost nothing!

    November 17, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Brad

    So much for transparent government. Behind closed doors!

    November 17, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. gp

    ...simply the last group of people that should be dealing with this.

    November 17, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  16. Chipster

    @Disgusted Your accusations about the President's vacation time are not based in reality or facts. He has not taken nearly as many vacation days as most previous presidents. In fact, Bush #43 took nearly 3 years out of 8. But let's make this clear, presidents never get away from the office – not even clearing brush in Crawford. Especially in these times, when technology keeps voice, email, etc. at our fingertips 24/7. I'd prefer to have a president who takes a break (golf, fishing, clearing brush on the ranch, exercise....) whenever he can than one who doesn't. These accusations are petty and unproductive. Be an adult and focus on the serious matters that are facing our nation, please.

    November 17, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Fiat Currency

    "...behind closed doors". Sadly that't where everything gets done in Washington.

    November 17, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. i'malib

    I say tax people more. I have welfare, food stamps and a free phone. You people who have jobs must work harder and pay more. Millions of us are depending on you. With that said, I have a football game to watch.

    November 17, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  19. BroDean

    I agree, go over the cliff. Let's see what happens when we sequester anymore spending on other country's problems.
    The wealthy? You have people with 20-30 millin dollar homes. You have people living in 100-250,000 homes that are mortgaged beyond their value because they were convinced by the last 50 years that owning a piece of real estate was the American Dream. Nice dream but now we are awake, sorry charlie. read up on what the future has in store for the US.
    It cetainly doesn't have the rest of the world which we have been protecting from themselves and those they allowed in power coming to our rescue.

    November 17, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. thinkingdownstream

    I'm closing my medical practice in six months. I've attended 17 classes and seminars on Obamacare and how it will be implemented in CA... The only thing I know for sure is that no one has clue as to its impact on the economy. One seminar leader (who is an MD and MBA) told me she sees it as akin to an asteroid hitting the earth – just in slow motion over five years....

    So, I'm giving my employees six months salary and I'm gone. Retired. Bye and good luck. We're all going to need it.

    November 17, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. Armand

    Boehner, Cantor and Norquist are going to try and bluff their way through this and it's nothing short of political suicide. The only leverage they have is more obstruction... unfortunately we'll have to wait until the next election cycle to vote them out. BTW...

    Remember back in the good old House Speaker Newt Gingrich days?

    When House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon presented Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. All because they didn't think Gingrich was giving Clinton a hard enough time.

    This was when Gingrich created 11 million jobs, paid off $400 billion worth of debt and balanced the budget in four years and they reformed welfare.

    This was the last time the GOP accomplished anything constructive and Boehner squashed it.

    DeLay and his friends were all tied to Jack Abramoff and Abramoff laundered money for them all by screwing Indian Tribes.

    When Gingrich left he said, "I'm willing to lead but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals."

    November 17, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. Ken

    Who the heck is Grover Norquist and why is he anything important in this conversation? Do the Repubs pledge allegiance to their country or to this person?

    November 17, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Russ Bunjas

    Get her done! If you fail us, you'll be gone. Inhereited bazillionaire Grover Norquist can no longer hold America hostage.

    November 17, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. joshisanonymous

    @Neutral Observer, Meetings behind closed doors means they can actually negotiate without having every word they say blown up by the media. It's not to pass secret agreements to enslave humanity, it's to maintain enough privacy that everyone can lay out their thoughts without worrying about political repercussions. Politicians necessarily can't be open with their thoughts in public because every word they say will get misconstrued and amplified.

    November 17, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. al

    I'm closing my medical practice in six months...

    you just needed a good excuse to retire.........if you ask one of your patients he or she will give you a different opinion...

    November 17, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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