News / USA

US Congress Shows No Urgency on 'Fiscal Cliff'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.
Michael Bowman
Four days before Americans face massive automatic tax increases and deep federal spending cuts, Washington is showing no signs of forging a deficit reduction agreement to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”  Many lawmakers are absent from Washington altogether, and the rest are pointing fingers and casting blame.
 
Watching official Washington, one might not know the nation is teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff. President Barack Obama returned from a Hawaiian vacation Thursday with no events on his schedule.  
 
The House of Representatives is adjourned until Sunday.  The Senate is in session, but debating a bill governing U.S. intelligence gathering, not the fiscal cliff.
 
That the House is closed for business at a critical time was noted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
 
“I cannot imagine their consciences. They [House members] are out wherever they are around the country, and we are here trying to get something done," he said. 
 
The House adjourned last week after Republican Speaker John Boehner failed to muster enough votes to pass an extension of federal tax rates for all income up to $1 million a year, far above the $250,000 cut-off sought by Democrats.
 
A clearly frustrated Reid accused Boehner of employing heavy-handed tactics to block legislation and cast America off the fiscal cliff.
 
“The House of Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives.  It is being operated with a dictatorship of the Speaker," he said. 
 
A spokesman for Speaker Boehner said, “Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more.”
 
In fact, both chambers are accusing the other of stymieing bills to avert the fiscal cliff.  A House-passed bill that would extend all tax cuts for all income groups has not been taken up in the Senate, while a Senate bill extending tax cuts for income up to $250,000 a year has not been considered in the House.
 
The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, recounted a recent telephone conversation he had with President Obama.
 
“Last night I told the president we would be happy to look at whatever he proposes.  But the truth is, we are coming up against a hard deadline here.  This is a conversation we should have had months ago," he said. 
 
Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia is doubtful a bipartisan deal can be forged by New Year’s Eve.
 
“It will take a miracle to keep us from going off the fiscal cliff.  The most likely scenario is that we do go off the cliff, and then Congress acts," he said. 
 
Sabato points out that Republicans who are loathe to vote for tax hikes now will not have to do so once taxes go up on all income groups on January 1.
 
“By then taxes will automatically have risen, dramatically, for most Americans.  Then, instead of having to vote on a tax increase, they can vote to decrease taxes, at least in some categories for some Americans," he said. 
 
Sabato says that however the fiscal cliff drama plays out, Washington has given itself another black eye, saying, “Congress has proven to be best at finger-pointing rather than legislating.”

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by: KC Mac from: Boise, Idaho
December 28, 2012 7:45 PM
If the "Fiscal Cliff" had a provision that stated: Should no decision be made prior to the deadline, " Election shall be held for each seat in Congress". Clean house, allow the voters to re-staff Congress.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
December 28, 2012 10:59 AM
An issue I forgot to mention, below, is that republican party, which produced great leaders like Ronald Regan (RR), its on a path of self destruction, year after year representing less and less people. RR had an inmense ability to strain the superfluous and get to the core of the issues; including reaching, seeking and working with the other side. RR put the US people, and Western interest first, political grandstanding and playing fiscal chicken of the road was not on his agenda.

Sadly, no matter what Pres. Obama tries to do, it is always not good enough for some republicans, the last debacle, of not even accepting their own's speakers plan, just shows that these people are absolutely not willing to deal with the President. From an ousiders perspective, me, it really is starting to look like the issue relates to Pres. Obama personally; if that is the case, shame on these extremists. Some of these extremist really need to do some soul searching, and start addressing their mores and uphold democratic values!

by: NVO from: USA
December 28, 2012 12:19 AM
How many of you people are STILL in DENIAL that this was all pre-planned by The New World Order, and is just another way of making people submissive to the Regime. Wake up, you fools!!!

by: Whatever from: North Pole
December 27, 2012 7:13 PM
This is Obama's ship.. no one else is responsible.

He wants us to go over the cliff so he can fund his "pet" projects (with our hard-earned money) without having to cut anything - and the best part is that he can (try to) blame it on allllllll on the bad 'ol Republicans.

Again, this is Obama's ship. NO ONE ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE.

by: Dan the plumber from: Ct
December 27, 2012 6:21 PM
All I hear is arguing and no suggestions.no one cares about the little guy and girl.you have days left.you have pulled this for years and still you havent done your jobs.i agree that too much money is being spent.payroll is especially high.my first thought don't want to do your job. Ok. As taxpayers we could save money on your salary. And let's talk medical,you are out of a job, no lifetime medical benefits.

by: lbella from: texas
December 27, 2012 5:48 PM
Having a huge debt is not all the fault of Goverment. We did have to defend US when the towers were taken out (LARGE DEBT) then a lot of natural disasters happened. We did not need to give first time home buyers $8,000.00 and my son was one of those that received this. We did not have to give rebates on cars or appliances. Question... where exactly does the lotto money go? I know it is suppose to be going to schools but they are broke? I say cut DOWN way DOWN on walfare.

by: lbella from: texas
December 27, 2012 5:24 PM
I think military pay cuts should not even be on the books. If anyone needs a pay cut or no retirement it should be theses guys. They get retirement and medical with a few years in office while everyone else needs to put in at least 20 years. What's up with that?? I vote flat tax everyone pays the same. Rich, poor, legal or illegal.....

by: Tom from: Alabama
December 27, 2012 4:58 PM
Best way I know to lower spending now is to not give them anymore money until they draw up a budget plan showing they have cut back spending.
This should have been done years ago and before they started talking about falling off cliffs and raising taxes.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
December 27, 2012 2:48 PM
The Western economies, not just the USA, have very serious systemic problems, that are slowly erroding the basis of Western strength, way of life, and the democratic fundations of Western Nations. We are already witnessing the rise of extreme groups in the most economically impared countries. The last thing we all need is a bunch of self serving, extremly rich buffons, making things worse for the average income person, the 54% and for the very poor~36% . Like it or not, we are all impacted by the decisions made, or in this case not made, in Washington the USA. We, can't vote in the USA, but we all have a stake in making sure the USA runs as smoothly as possible. Selfish, ignorant, greedy people, the majority of the so called 1%, and those elected officials that represent them, are gradually destroying the USA, its high standard of life, and are damaging not just the USA, but the entire Western block of nations; which also has many such bad selfish people.

Their greed deliberately sent high paying jobs out of the US, and out of most Western countries, the point of which was to exploit cheap labour, lax labour/environmental laws, and degrade the environment of those nations. Enviromental migration victims are already on their way. At the end of the day, these greedy individuals will destroy the way of life for all = no money/no customers to buy their products.... Failure to reach fiscal agreement in the USA is already affecting non-US economies and driving extremism. So wake up and start doing your jobs, represent the majority, for which the US people elected you to do! And yes you already have far more money than 90% of the people will ever make in their lifetimes! You are creating the conditions, great insecurity, that saw the Czar's demise.

by: yaa from: tx
December 27, 2012 8:57 AM
A deal is available right now that can pass the House but the speaker will not put a bill up that can pass with both democrats and republicans- A bi-partisan bill. He wants only a republican bill that will not pass the senate or the president.
In Response

by: Rhondakelly07 from: Usa
December 27, 2012 11:05 AM
the.speaker.said.its.now.up.to.odama..I.relly.hate.it.when.the.left..doesnt.know.who.the.presedent.is.and.they.will.say.its.the.GOP.fault..WHO.IS.THE.PRESEDENT..its.not.the.house.speaker..its.odama....if.your.middle.class..your.gonna.pay.6000.more.and.lots.more.for.odama.care.your.mesiah..said.no.higher.tazes..well.he.LIED.AGAIN..odamas.the.presedent...ITS.HIS.FAULT!
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