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. al

    the only thing democrats need to do is? wait it out. its that simple...

    November 17, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. spiris333

    One thing that I have learned over the last four years of obama, is that he and the dems cannot be trusted. The lies and deceptions of the obama administration will not be in the best interests of America. The Marxist has not changed his spots, and this country is withering on the vine with his tax and spend policies, and it will only get worse.

    November 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Hillcrester

    Thinkingdownstream–By chance, I had my annual physical yesterday and my internist said the construction taking place at her building is for space to add two more internists to their five-person partnership. If you now work in SD, send your patients to them.

    November 17, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Anthony

    Republicans are welcome to propose specific spending cuts. Please state clearly what you want to cut. Don't bother proposing to cut Obamacare in the budget, because most of the spending in Obamacare won't start until 2014, so our trillion-dollar deficits did not come from Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office actually projects that Obamacare will reduce the deficits, because it will also raise revenue (including the individual mandate, which the Supreme Court called a tax). If Republicans want to cut spending, please identify what Obama has spent on that is still in the budget. In other words, forget about the stimulus, because it is not in the budget anymore.

    November 17, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Connecticut Love

    and the republicans can be trusted...that's the biggest joke i've heard for centuries it only goes to show that money cant buy an election....300 million wasted on the biggest phony on the planet earth i guess that rich man's smirk got wipped off his face for good..ouch!

    November 17, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Hammerer

    The mandate Obama has from people that have never worked a day in their life and have no intention of ever working, illegals, gays, single women whose only interest is abortion, and blacks is the same that is driving the riots in the countries in financial ruin.
    Let the government go over the "fisical cliff" now.
    The Repubs are not going to lose any votes because of it and it has become clear that there is no end until the 48% of America that is still working is taxed 100% to support the Obama mandate.

    November 17, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Peter Q Wolfe

    Its time to quit kicking the can down the road and time to reform welfare programs and simplify the tax code to build confidense in business to create jobs again in the U.S! I'd like to also see more deregulation to make it easier to understand and to comply with existing regulations and eliminate unecessary ones. How about this that we start cuts next year, then we put an admendment that tax revenues increase either when the unemployment is 7% or in 2014? By the way, I'm a independen who leans democratic and would have voted for Obama.

    November 17, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Dave

    Obama does what he says. GOP could learn something from this. Voters cannot trust Republicans because they always screw the middle class.

    November 17, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    In my 6 years of researching Romney (that's how long he campaigned) I found him to be an egomaniacal liar.

    He's like most of the mormons I ever had to work with. Me Me Me Me Me Me Me

    Not a good leadership quality.

    November 17, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. GOP = Greed Over People

    In 2010 the GOP won 60+ local elections that represented those House local districts. In 2012, 5 were taken back and still counting, literally. Not only did the libs hang on to 23 seats in the Senate, we ousted 2 GOPers for a new count of 55 vs. 45.

    The only national election we hold is the Presidential election, that is truly what representes the "will of the people" and therefore, a mandate is given to the winner and the agenda the winner ran on.

    Rest assured, if Robme had won with the exact same percentages and popular vote, it would have been a "mandate" against Obamacare, equal pay rights for woman and a mandate that women were little more than bi-pedal incubators.

    So, get ready GOP take the loss and get to work following the leader, President Obama!

    November 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Dean

    How about closing loopholes and deductions AND ending the Bush tax cuts for everyone and restoring the full payroll taxes. That way everyone compromises and revenue is increased.

    November 17, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. ObaWendon

    I have a perfect idea for spending cuts. All members of Congress get a pay decrease of 70%, all benefits reduced to those similar to the poor, zero pension which then would not require huge funding for future recepients. No expense accounts, no free cars, gasoline, limo's, etc. They can afford to have their personal budgets cut just like the rest of us have had to do. Time for them to live like the rest of us middle & lower classes. In 2014 it's time to tell them "Your Fired".

    November 17, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. ronvan

    It continues to amaze me how people hear & interpret the english language to meet their OWN conclusions! President Obama is one, that is 1, person! While he, or any president should use his leverage off office, to MAKE or FORCE our "elected children" to make concessions, decisions, etc, our President does not have the power to make HIS wishes LAW! It is the republican party that has CONTINUALLY said NO to the president, not because of their petty, and outdated beleifs, but solely in that they do not like him! The result is WE, the people, continue to get screwed! IF the republican party cannot reorganize and get their act together, to help US, not themselves, they are going to be relegated to history!

    November 17, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. ronvan

    ObaWendon: I am with YOU!! Lets start some kind of "movement"! While I agree with your comment here is something else. 3 parties. Dems, Repubs, and independent. Our president & VP, would be selected from the independent party and would remain neutral from the other 2! One of their primary tasks would be to FORCE the other 2 parties to come together and actually talk and make decisions on policy! ANY party that consistently refused to TRY and work towards solving problems would loose their right to say yes or no!

    November 17, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. sick of republican phonies

    Spiris: I'm sure you said the same about the lies and deceptions of Bush, the lyingest, deceivingest president ever. Keep drinking the Fox Kool ade.

    November 17, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. Willie Floyd

    ObaWendon-Well said-I totally agree with you. Now we just need to call our sens. and reps. and make the suggestion to them. Dysfunction Junction has become a laugh a minute!!


    November 17, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  17. Guest

    Never trust a democrat, they just want your money. I'm the tax man, yeah I'm the tax man.....

    November 17, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. Both_R_Losers

    Please help to remove the GOP (the grand "OLD'" party otherwise known as the party of "NO") from congress in 2014. It is time to leave the "angry OLD white men" behind and to move this country forrward without them.

    November 17, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. BHPT

    Sure hope they do something about Romney's "carried interest" income tax break. He should pay the same rate as execs at companies in other industries.

    November 17, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. johnquepublique

    WHAT??? No "BamaPhone" for his birthday??? How rude.

    November 17, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. Peter Q Wolfe

    I agree that members in Congress need to have pay cuts and benefits to be outright eliminated as well. Being a future government worker with IRS that I would voluntarily suggest that all federal wokers retirements be cut and pay to be reduced by 10-12% across the board as well. I'd rather have the money be cut from my pay than allow the disabled, children and elderly abandoned to the brunt of the cuts alone by themselves. That is called being an adult and willing to compromise for the American people not be a coward partisan.

    November 17, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. Liz the First


    The mandate Obama has from people that have never worked a day in their life and have no intention of ever working, illegals, gays, single women whose only interest is abortion, and blacks is the same that is driving the riots in the countries in financial ruin.
    Let the government go over the "fisical cliff" now."
    What a load of crap! what has this dude been smoking? I helped give Obama the mandate and i work full-time. i also have a custom drapery business and in my spare time, i'm flipping my house! i've never had an abortion even though i've been single my whole life. this nauseating portrayal of half this country is what is keeping us from solving our problems. a house divided against itself cannot stand. we are coming dangerously close to that scenario and garbage like this moves us even closer.

    The republicans need to realize, finally, that we have told them, again, we don't want to do things their way. if the republican way of doing things worked, we would not be cleaning up now from the horrendous mess they made of this country's economy. yes, some programs can be reduced or cut altogether, but we need new revenue and the nonsense about job-killing taxes needs to go away. the rich never stopped making money because they had to pay taxes on it. we had growth under the Clinton tax rates, which were a lot lower than what the rich used to pay. Obama needs to start playing serious hardball with these repugs who refuse to govern because they don't like him. they need to get over it and do what we're paying them to do, govern!

    November 17, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. ReallyPolitics

    One way to resolve the fiscal cliff... add a term limit clause which limits all members of congress to one term in the Senate and 2 terms in the House... then they need to go home and never work within 50 miles of Washington DC.

    November 17, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  24. dc10

    Funny, the article link is 'Ticker: Leaders target Fiscal Cliff 2.0'... where was 1.0 or even 1.1?

    November 17, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  25. Scott

    I think we need to take a balanced approach. Medicare & Social Security could use some reforms in order to improve efficiencies, but they really do already work fairly well – Congress needs to STOP taking money set aside for these programs to pay for other things!!! The tax codes definitely need to be overhauled & simplified, EVERYONE should pay something for Federal taxes, including non-profits & churches – even if it's very minimal, it's at least a token. Close the tax loopholes & get rid of most write-offs. Everyone should pay a tax based on their incomes. The higher the income, the higher the percentage, but cap that percentage. And most of all, considering that we spend more money on our military industrial complex than the next several countries COMBINED, I think we can easily afford to cut military budgets sharply and STILL maintain a strong, well-funded, well-armed military! Welfare laws were already overhauled in the 90's between Clinton & the Republican congress, so there's fairly little waste there...

    November 17, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
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