NBC News capitol correspondent Kelly O’Donnell reported Sunday morning that talks in the Senate to avoid the Senate cliff have hit a snag. She quoted unnamed sources as saying that Republicans put a “poison pill” in their proposal and the parties have never been further apart. Talks are at an impasse.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called Vice-President to intervene. The issue is Republican insistence that the only way they will vote to prevent tax increases on 98% of Americans is if Social Security is cut as part of the deal. This is the poison pill Ms O’Donnell referred to. Senator Reid said Sunday afternoon that so far there is no counter proposal that Democrats can support.
Meanwhile, in NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning President Obama said that the American people back his position. The president said that Republicans are unified about preventing the wealthy from paying a dime more in taxes, and they prefer to have seniors, middle class families bear the entire burden of fixing the deficit.
President Obama said on Meet the Press that he would look at changes to how inflation is calculated for Social Security as part of a bigger deficit reduction deal, but not part of a stand alone vote on taxes.
Clearly the president’s statement would seem to imply that Vice-President Biden is not likely to push Democrats to accept the Social Security increases to get a tax increase on the top 1% or 2% of taxpayers.
In his interview with David Gregory, President Obama indicated that although he hoped Congress would fix the problem in the next 48 hours, but he was prepared that they would not. He said that on January 4th, when the new Congress is convened, he will send a bill to Congress to cut taxes on 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.
The president said that he moved more than half way towards Republicans in negotiations but they simply have a hard time saying yes to him. When asked why that is, the president said “You will have to ask them.”
The president started asking for a tax cut for 98% of Americans and Republicans wanted it on 0%. The President agreed to compromise at a cut for 99%, and House Republicans suggested a cut for 99.8%, but they didn’t even pass that. The president also offered a trillion in spending cuts saying his last offer was $2 in spending cuts for every $1 on increases on the top 1%, but Republicans rejected that.
So short of Joe Biden performing magic, every American will see a tax increase at midnight Monday night. Even if a deal with Social Security cuts is included, it is not likely to get enough Democratic votes to pass.
On Meet the Press Chuck Todd of NBC said that this Congress is the most unproductive in history. He cited failure of the Farm Bill, downgrading of our credit rating, and the current debacle as blaring examples.
Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw replied saying the reason is that the system is rigged. He said 75% of all members of Congress including most Republicans come from safe districts where they do not have to answer to anyone but their party. In the case of the House, that party is the Tea Party which believes compromise is inherently evil.
So buckle your belts and put on your helmet. The cliff is neigh.
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