News / USA

Obama ‘Modestly Optimistic’ About Fiscal Deal

Obama Meets With Congressional Leaders as Fiscal Cliff Deadline Loomsi
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December 29, 2012
U.S. President Barack Obama has met with the top congressional leaders from both political parties and says he is hopeful a deal can still be reached to avert tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. Across the country, some Americans are feeling anxious and frustrated as the Tuesday deadline approaches. VOA congressional correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

Watch related video by VOA's Cindy Saine about fiscal cliff negotiations.

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Kent Klein
— U.S. President Barack Obama says he is “modestly optimistic” that a deal can be reached to avert a fiscal crisis. The president spoke Friday after meeting with top lawmakers from both parties.

Obama expressed his frustration with the partisan bickering which has persisted almost to the deadline. But he said his one-hour meeting with congressional leaders at the White House was “good” and “constructive.”

As a result, he said the top Senate Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, will try to reach a deal on deficit reduction before Monday’s deadline.

“I am modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. Nobody is going to get 100 percent of what they want, but let’s make sure that middle-class families and the American economy, and in fact, the world economy, are not adversely impacted because people cannot do their jobs,” he said.

Alternate plans

If no deal is reached by Monday, all Americans will see their taxes go up, unemployment benefits will stop, and there will be deep cuts to government programs, including defense. If the Senate leaders cannot agree, the president said he will ask Reid to pass a bill to stop most of the adverse effects of the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

He said McConnell and the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, should not block the votes.

“I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities, as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can, but we should let everybody vote,” said Obama.

After meeting with the president, McConnell said he was “hopeful and optimistic” that a deal could be reached, and that lawmakers could vote on a proposal as early as Sunday, when the House and Senate are next in session.

Reid vowed to do everything he could to prevent the tax increases and spending cuts that he said threaten the nation’s economy. The top Senate Democrat said he is preparing a bill for a vote Monday, which would raise taxes on Americans making more than $250,000 a year - Obama’s original proposal.

Seeking compromise

The president had raised the figure to $400,000, while Republicans wanted a $1 million threshold.

Chris Krueger, a policy analyst with Guggenheim Securities, said most Americans share the president’s frustration with Washington’s inability to agree on a solution.

“You talk to most folks on the street, and no one could possibly imagine that the Congress would be so irresponsible and so childish as to basically take their toys home and not solve what is arguably a self-inflicted wound to the economy,” he said.

Krueger said Americans could see a repeat of the “fiscal cliff” drama in the coming months, when Washington is forced to reach an agreement on raising the government’s debt limit.

“That is a much more, quite frankly, frightening cliff. And that is where we believe remains the true forcing mechanism where Congress will, ultimately, get a deal, but it may well wait until late February, early March, around that second fiscal cliff,” said Krueger.

The United States faces the fiscal cliff because tax cuts implemented by former president George W. Bush expire at the end of the year.  

The automatic spending cuts and tax increases were put in place in 2011, as an incentive to both parties to cut the deficit, after they were unable to agree on a larger deficit reduction plan at that time.

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Comments
     
by: Steve from: Louisiana
December 29, 2012 9:41 AM
The puzzling (and frustrating) thing to me in all of this is, so they pass a bill or proposal to inflict indiscriminate cuts across the board and increase the taxes if Congress can't work together to resolve our budget and that that bill/proposal is able to be overwritten so as not to allow it to take it's full effect. Where is the sense in that??? Why have written it in the first place? Definitely befuddling, to say the least... but apparently up to par with our current Congress / Administration.


by: Susan from: Louisiana
December 29, 2012 9:34 AM
Its going "over the cliff" whatever they do


by: Terratiberon from: Florida
December 29, 2012 9:31 AM
If you read the article it says, " there was NOT a lot of hilary". I for one am tired of this mess. Most would consider me 1%er due to my income. I do not consider myself as such. I did not finish college and have been broke many times in my life. And yes homeless two times. I know what sleeping under a bridge or in a car is like. But I have worked very hard to get to where I am. I am very grateful for what I have. I work on commissions and therefore only eat what I kill. I do not have a union to make my job easier or to get my wages increased. I watched my net worth plummet to a negative number during the recession and have often wondered if I should turn my upside down home back to the bank. I do not qualify for a government refinance or any assistance, even if I wanted it. So not a Insite here watching the posturing in Washington and wonder what would happen to me if I rang my budget and finances the way the government runs our country. Could I get away with base line budgeting and just automatically increase my spending every year? Can I just demand more money from my boss? How about increase my debt to keep on spending? I dont think so. I would be fired, in bankruptcy, and laughed out of the bank if i asked for additional debt. I read and listen to people say they want certain things from the government and I wonder who will pay for all of this. Everyone has a scared cow. Time to sit down as a family and say its time to cut expenses so we can stay a float, pay off the bills and start saving. Washington if full of shopaholics, spend spend spend. Time to cut off the tap to all but the most critical expenses and live with in our means.
I just reviewed my income and expense for 2012, in preparation to file my taxes. I will pay more in taxes this year than most earn. HOW is that fair? Yes I am grateful for what I have but it is due to hard work. No one has handed me anything.
Time to stop finger pointing, complaining about the other guy, get off our collective buts and get to work. JFK is probably rolling over in his grave........." ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". To our leaders in Washington, stop worrying about your legacy, reelection, or who wins, and fix this once and for all!


by: Anonymous
December 29, 2012 9:12 AM
We send them to Washington DC to do a job. They can't so they should be fired. Plain and Simple. It happens that way in the real world. They are nothing but a bunch of fools.


by: Anonymous
December 29, 2012 12:02 AM
At a cost of 1.3 billion $ for today's discussion.


by: Anonymous
December 28, 2012 6:29 PM
obama performs well

In Response

by: joe916 from: USA
December 29, 2012 12:28 AM
By issuing an executive order ending federal employees pay freeze and in effect giving federal workers a pay raise. - being March 27,2013. Government gets a pay raise while We the people are on the unemployment line. thank you Mr. President


by: William Jay from: us
December 28, 2012 2:22 PM
The headlines should read "Fools Fiddle as Rome Burns"
Welcome to ClownAmerica now go home.


by: Bob from: Windsor, Ontario
December 28, 2012 1:55 PM
The headline reads "Discuss", how pathetic discussing time was a long time ago it is time to actually do something and stop both parties fighting and blaming especially the Democrats who seem hell bent on two things raising taxes and spending both are wrong. Unfortunately those who did vote gave these people the right to continue being arrogant and deaf.

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 29, 2012 12:03 AM
TRUE

In Response

by: Jeff from: Colorado
December 29, 2012 12:02 AM
I love this. You say stop both parties fighting and then go on to make a crack about the democrats in the same sentance. This is the problem. There is partisanship and the blame game everywhere. Let's stop doing that and just move forward.

In Response

by: Kurt from: US
December 28, 2012 7:40 PM
@Bob. And you apparently know more than the President, economists, CEO's and business leaders?


by: ephriam wyatt jr. from: springfield tn.
December 28, 2012 1:46 PM
Dear Mr. President, The people you are dealing with, do not care one thing about you or what you stand for. They thank they are better than anyone else & know more. This is sad because Jesus, did not make us this way. We are to love one & the other & do what is best for all. I pray that all of you will see the light, before it is to late. If this hate keeps going the way it is, all of us will pay a dear price in the end. I am sorry the people of earth is going the way it is.


by: Cliff Phiskal from: Washington
December 28, 2012 8:15 AM
Believe me.... The economy is not the only thing "going over the cliff" if this isn't resolved.

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