Fiscal cliff debate: No progress as tax cuts set to expire
President Barack Obama and the Republicans are digging in their heels over proposals to resolve the crisis of the fiscal cliff. So far, both sides say no progress has been made and seem to be trying to lower expectations for a deal.
Worries about the fiscal cliff are beginning to sound like predictions from the Mayan calendar.
John Boehner recently said no progress had been made in the fiscal cliff negotiations. And in a chat on Twitter on Monday, President Barack Obama took a firm stand against major tax cuts.
But Dave Weigel, political reporter from Slate, says it's hard to get a feeling for what's really going on.
"Reading all of this is just like reading any sort of gypsy tea leaf prediction, or statement," he said. "These people are not really saying what their final negotiation position is, they're saying what tarot cards they have on hand."
Weigel says that thus far, people have behaved as expected.
"Both Boehner and the White House have been pretty recalcitrant," he said. "Not to reveal how cynical we are, but most people in Washington don't think we're going to get much of a deal until the middle of this month. Last week and this week are about posturing."
The Obama administration has been calling on Republicans in the House of Representatives to present a plan for a budget fix they would go along with. Last year, Obama endorsed and the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a bill to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, except for those for the top income earners. In campaign ads, Obama and the Democrats said the Republicans were holding all the rest of us hostage to protect the super wealthy from higher taxes.
"You starting to hear some Republicans say, 'Why don't we pass a version of that, so that we have these taxes staying the same in the House, so you can't blame us anymore for blocking things,'" Weigel said.
Then, they reason, they could take another swing at a true budget resolution in 2013. Monday afternoon, Republicans presented a plan that calls for 800 million in new revenue and $1.2 billion in spending cuts.
Weigel called it surprising that Republicans are expecting a different reaction from Obama. He did, Weigel points out, run on a campaign promising to raise this top tax rate.
While both Boehner and the Republicans, along with the White House and Democrats test the waters, Weigel says it's possible the Republicans will ultimately decide to save, and try to make a deal, to try and recover some of the faith lost in the debt ceiling debacle.
According to public opinion of Congress these days, "If there is a failure to make a deal, it's the Republicans fault," Weigel said.
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