December 28th, 2012
09:16 AM ET
8 years ago

Senators split on White House fiscal cliff meeting

Washington (CNN) - Senators who cut short holiday vacations to return to a deadlocked Washington offered varying degrees of optimism Friday on the potential of a fiscal cliff deal emerging from an afternoon meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, speaking on NBC's "Today" show, said he was "a little more optimistic today" about reaching a deal that would avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of the year. Both Republicans and Democrats have sounded increasingly downbeat on the chances of finding a solution before the effects of the cliff kick in.

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"Sometimes it's darkest before the dawn," the New York Democrat said, pointing to renewed engagement from Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. McConnell and Boehner, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will meet with Obama in the Oval Office at 3 p.m. ET Friday.

"The fact that (Boehner's) come back and the four of them are at the table means to me we could come up with some kind of agreement that would avoid the main parts of the fiscal cliff, particularly taxes going up on middle-class people," Schumer said.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said on CNN's "Starting Point" that a deal must originate between Obama and the four congressional leaders for Americans' confidence to be restored in the federal government.

"It's got to start with the leaders and the president at the White House this afternoon. Hopefully they'll agree to a framework," said Snowe, who is retiring. She told CNN's Ali Velshi that the Democrat-controlled Senate would then vote on any potential measure before sending it to the Republican-held House of Representatives.

"I hope the speaker can get this job done before the end of this year and not defer it to next year," she continued. "We've got to demonstrate we have some capacity left to make decisions in Washington on these very significant issues for the country."

Schumer's and Snowe's optimism was countered by Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who downplayed the importance of Friday's meeting on CBS "This Morning."

"This afternoon's meeting feels too much to me like optics to make it look like we're doing something," Corker said. "Let me just say one more time: This is a total dereliction of duty at every level. I've been very surprised that the president has not laid out a very specific plan to deal with this, but candidly Congress could have done the same, and I think the American people should be disgusted."

He predicted the meeting between Obama and the lawmakers would result in a "kick-the-can-down the road" solution, meaning larger questions on tax increases and spending cuts would be put off until next year.

Asked whether lawmakers understood the importance of striking a fiscal cliff deal before the end of the year, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said her colleagues in the Senate did - but that a different story was playing out on the other side of Capitol Hill.

"We're having a lot of very important, very good, positive conversations between Democrats and Republicans (in the Senate)," she said on "Starting Point."

"The tough part is in the House. They have taken this very extreme position about protecting the wealthiest Americans at all costs, even holding middle-class families hostage to do it. And that really isn't rhetoric. We're seeing it over and over again."

Filed under: Fiscal Cliff
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Sheila

    guess I will be paying around 2500 extra in taxes nxt yr – since I make around 50K – oh well, at least everybody has to pay – even the ones who actually have to part with a little bit more – the ones who make 250K – guess it will hurt them more to part with it – If we stop sending money to all those overseas 3rd world countries, like Haiti , for instance , everytime somebody has an earthquake or a hurricane or something, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in, in the first place. It is , what it is, especially for the 98% ters. Good luck, with parting with a little bit more of the paper money that you worship so much.

    December 28, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Larry L


    I say let the cliff happen. You then have you revenue. Then cut the military budget.
    ================================================================================================ Go back to school and take Economics 101. The poor and middle class will suffer from a renewed recession and all of the progress we've made will be lost. Houses will be lost, jobs lost, and our S&S rating would likely fall even lower. Republicans want to weaken our Federal government and this would work. The rich of course won't really suffer.

    December 28, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. EddyL

    They should all have their paychecks stopped until they get something done.

    December 28, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. txan

    Polnick, you are part of the problem. Throw stones and don't ever do or say anything constructive. Thanks.

    December 28, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. Gina Bright

    I would say when your paychecks get smacked by taxes next month, write down the name of your representatives in both the house and senate. You'll know who not to vote for next time and with any luck we can get rid of the entire lot of them. I don't care if they're left or right, this is the most unproductive congress since the 40s, they do absolutely nothing of worth – actually when you think about it, the tiny amount of law they have passed has done mostly damage. Normally to keep a job you have to do some actual work and by any standard they would have been fired if they were working any of the jobs we do.

    December 28, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. steve

    I voted for Obama and his agenda for this country. The Republicans are blocking his agenda and have been for 4 years. They are the problem.

    December 28, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Brian

    So will anyone be surprised when the incumbents receive only 2% of the votes next time they run for office? I still think they should all be locked in a room and not let out until they’ve reached a decision. Quite honestly, I don’t think anyone will really miss them if they don’t come out of the room for a long time!

    December 28, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Jim

    Two things:
    1) I'm pretty sure they'll basically agree to "change the rules" - raise a few taxes, cut nothing, and just push off the whole issue of out of control spending, ever growing deficits, and ever growing interest payments. THAT kind of "deal" will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to boost my consumer confident.

    2) As EddyL says, stopping their (Congress, staff, and President) paychecks until they reach a complete deal is a start, but not enough - we should suspend ALLLLLLL taxpayer funded travel, suspend ALL benefits, close the Congressional cafeteria/barbershop/bank, and close the Capitol Hill parking lot.

    December 28, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Sametestsameresults

    I will pay more I make around 50K I am happy to see the rich finally lose their Bush Era handouts. I am glad we are cutting defense which is the most gluttonus part of our government. I am not happy about SS, Medicare or any of the social programs that are truley needed by many many families and the idiots in the Tea Party just want to destroy America and divide us to the point of civil war. NRA=Tea Party=KKK. nuff said.

    December 28, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. Sheila

    Mr. Shoomer – I'm not sure, I think you are just trying to make this thing look like it's not as bad as it really is – You sounded like there is benefits to going over that "cliff" – I know one thing for sure, after all that has happened these couple of months, the GOPers will have a very difficult time, come 2014 – I hope obama & his entire team goes viral on what has happened to the middle class,, come 2014, and let everyone know, and remind this country how much the republicans has done to hold everybody else hostage.

    December 28, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  11. MilitaryAF

    The Work/Business day starts at 8:00 for most. Why is it government leaders usually have their meetings late afternoons, while rushing to get out the door? Is it any wonder they never get anything done?

    December 28, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. bill

    Why can't Democrats and Republicans follow Bowles-Simpson recomendations?. Obama set commission up and there was enough sacrifce shared by both parties that it probably would have put our house in order. Now we have a do nothing congress with both sides pandering to thier base. An administration that can't lead, and an American electorate that is frustrated and discouraged!. .

    December 28, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  13. Joe

    Sheila, actually everyone portrays it will be a worse tax hit than it really is. If you make 50K your tax goes from 10% to 15% on the first 17k (approx) and the amount from 17k to 50k is taxed at 15%, which is the same as your current taxes. So, 5% on the first 17K is an $875.00 a year increase. Of course you will be paying 2% more on the payroll tax, but that was only temporary anyway.

    December 28, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Neurotoxin

    Snowe is dead wrong. The mutinous fringes in both parties are not crazy extremists, but politicians who represent different elements of the country like they're supposed to. Top-down garbage legislation tailored to the lowest common denominator has dominated the narrative for decades, and the excluded elements have finally woken up. The "leaders" Snowe wants us to have confidence in are simply not representative of their parties or the country in general, so I applaud the politicians on both sides that refuse to simply accept their deals. This system was intended to operate with everyone's bottom-up input, NOT on oversimplified majority rule that ignores minority opinions. Spoiled centrists that have highjacked it are just whining and fear-mongering the latter no longer works. Bring on the cliff. The system is not worth saving, and restoring the Republic is better for us long-term.

    December 28, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. Sametestsameresults

    The Democrats have been back in Washington for 3 days, the Republicans havent even come back. Who is the party working for the people? The GOP cowards in Congress cannot agree on plan "B" so they say "The Senate needs to pass a bill" which is NOT the senate's job. Congress is responsible for the budget but these Tea Party cowards blame the president and when that gets no traction they blame the Senate.....when will these idologues just get to work and compromise. America voted for taxes on the Rich plain and simple every poll shows support over 60% the president was re-elected 51% to 47% this is the American peoples wishes and the GOP Tea Party are obstructionists to the American peoples wishes......except of course those making over 250K a year which for some reason are more important tha the rest of us.

    December 28, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  16. wel

    Do you really think that America spent money on Haiti. How much money did you donate on Katrina and Sandy. I am from Haiti and I can tell you that I gave more to both Katrina, Sandy. We have more corruption in Haiti then the rest of the world add togeteher.

    December 28, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Dale angell

    When will the GOP get back to governing? The GOP has been overrun by fools who seem to forget this is a democracy, we the people, not my way or the highway. (PS) you didn't build that highway, WE did.

    December 28, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    The House passed a bill that did not include one dime of revenue, and preserved all of the Bush Tax Cuts, which the GOP seeks to make permanent, which is what the Ryan Plan sought to do.. The bill that the House passed also shifted all defense cuts onto domestic programs, which again is essentially what the Ryan Plan sought to do.

    The House Republicans are ignoring the will of the People. Haven't you noticed how they haven't used those catch phrases like "American people want blah" at all? That's because they do not have the will of the People behind their policies. They know that as soon as they utter those phrases the majority will shake their heads in disagreement. They know that strategy of telling what people what to think now only works on their base. Let's hope the Republicans do not take the entire country down with them.

    December 28, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Grandpa Dave

    IMHO the entire fiscal cliff issue falls within Obama's BIG agenda to big down the Republic. In another four years, he will have achieved his goal: Socialism and eventually Communism... Comrade Grandpa

    December 28, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Squigman

    The sad truth is as follows. The person you (the voter), placed in a position to help you, is now making sure that he/she helps themselves first, and that you are not even thought of. Their pay will go on as if nothing happened. Their medical benefits will be there, no matter what happens. Their taxes wont see an increase, but yours will. They have the upper hand, and they are bound to keep it. The cliff means nothing to them. You on the other hand are screwed. Now, enjoy your day. While you're at it, contact your representative and voice your disappointment with their failure to do their jobs. See if you get a response that isn't a form letter, signed by a machine.

    December 28, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. wolfpackbob

    "...(the House) very extreme position about protecting the wealthiest Americans at all costs, even holding middle-class families hostage to do it. And that really isn't rhetoric." (Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow) The tax on the wealthy funds federal spending for eight days each year. That's 2% of the total. And Senator Stabenow says she is not speaking partisan rhetoric? Idiocy, and yet Americans lap it up. And the media is complicit in this deceit.

    December 28, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. jpmichigan

    Obama sets up a commission and then doesn't follow its advise, SO SAD. Politics as usual in D.C. Mr. Reid hasn't done his job for 4 years, then cries foul when the House ( who has passed many budgets and other legislation) refuses to take up his legislation, SO SAD. As an taxpaying American, I am sick and tired of the games this administration and Democrats are playing at. Obama wants to fulfill promises made, raises taxes on the wealth, but not the promise to work bipartisan . He is the who included the spending cuts in the Defense department, which will go into effect if wee go over the cliff. Obama will have more spending money if we go over, and he will be able to blame Republicans, well I blame Obama more so for he doesn't really care what happens to tax payers. He enjoys giving to those who pay no taxes and don't work even though they can.

    December 28, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    bill wrote:

    Why can't Democrats and Republicans follow Bowles-Simpson recomendations?.
    Because Simpson-Bowles contains new revenue. The grand deal worked out between Boehner and Obama 18 months ago was rejected by the Tea Party House. The Tea Party favored the sequestratuion bill. They thought no one would figure out that their goal was to get draconian spending cuts legislated into law.

    They though no one would figure out they woule renege on the defense cuts. They seem to think that no one noticed that they removed all revenue from the bill that they passed, and even had the gall to create new deductions for the wealthiest.

    December 28, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  24. Realista

    How can majority and minority Senators and Boehner and Pelosi.... PASS ANY Agreement made Today....

    SINCE, Both House And Senate Must Pass ANY Legislation First? Is Mitch McConnel still trying to make Pres Obama..

    " A One Term President"?

    December 28, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. John

    GOP hate Obama more than they love America. They will not compromise.

    December 28, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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