By Greg Campbell
In what has become typical Washington fashion, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are scrambling today to try and solidify an eleventh-hour deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Without such a deal, the tax rate will rise on all Americans starting on the first of the year.
Several developments are underway as lawmakers signal desperation to accomplish in 24 hours what has eluded them for months.
In an effort to jump-start negotiations, the White House sent in Vice President Joe Biden to help with negotiations. While President Obama had previously promised to engage with Congressional leaders in the fiscal cliff dealings, he has remained somewhat absent from the negotiations. Nevertheless, he has had sharp criticism for the lawmakers concerning the stalled negotiations.
As Biden enters the picture, various sources are intimating progress on the negotiations without spelling out the specifics. The Daily Caller reports:
“Congressional officials familiar with talks between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said one major remaining sticking point was whether to postpone spending cuts that are scheduled to begin on Jan 1.
Republicans want to replace across-the-board reductions with targeted cuts elsewhere in the budget, while the White House and Democrats want to offset at least some of the so-called sequester with the revenue from tax increases. Senate Democrats were pushing hard against a GOP proposal for just a three-month delay in the across-the-board cuts.
At the same time, Democrats said the two sides were closing in on an agreement over taxes. They said the White House had proposed blocking an increase for most Americans, while letting rates rise for individuals with incomes of $400,000 a year and $450,000 for couples, a concession from President Barack Obama’s campaign call to set the levels at $200,000 and $250,000.”
However, such an increase is sure to earn the ire of fiscal conservatives who have vowed to not raise taxes at all. Before they broke for Christmas, the House GOP was divided between moderates and conservatives as Speaker of the House John Boehner pushed a plan that would raise taxes on those earning over a million dollars. At the last minute, the House adjourned for Christmas as Boehner and the moderates were unable to secure enough votes from conservatives- an encouraging victory for conservatives, an embarrassing defeat for moderates, and a sign that Boehner’s Speakership may be in jeopardy in the near future.
While America waits to see what happens at day’s end, anonymous sources have told Breitbart News that a deal is all-but struck, with few points lingering.
“The proposed deal accepts many of President Obama’s stated priorities – but it denies him his most fervently-held priority, indefinite suspension of the debt ceiling.
The deal currently under discussion was reportedly negotiated between Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. Our source told us that the calculus was simple:
‘None of us want to see taxes go up on anybody, but if we don’t do anything, we’re looking at a $4 trillion tax hike. Obama will simply take $1 trillion off the top and hand it to the folks who got him re-elected. He will rewrite the tax code to jack up taxes on everyone. Then he’ll come back and rebrand himself as a tax cutter.’
‘It can’t be overstated,’ said our source, ‘that President Obama has no interest in avoiding the fiscal cliff. He gets everything he wants from a policy and political standpoint if we go off the fiscal cliff.’…
The Senate source assured Breitbart News that taxes will not be on the table in terms of cutting our deficit regarding the debt ceiling. ‘This negotiation will not look like 2011,’ the source said. ‘No repeats.’ In fact, there are discussions under way among House and Senate Republicans to make raising the debt ceiling contingent on restructuring the vast bureaucracy that is Obamacare. There has also been talk about restructuring the cost of living adjustments for Social Security, and about restructuring other entitlement programs.”
While America hopes for a solution, the notoriously-stubborn positioning by Democrats has left a lingering suspicion that no deal is likely to occur. With the next crisis just around the bend- the debt ceiling crisis- the Republicans have a unique opportunity to account for their various points of political leverage to secure more responsible spending. However, for now, it is a waiting game to see how this shapes up.