With the fiscal cliff talks now into sudden-death overtime, it would seem the only people standing in the way of a last-minute deal are each party’s respective extremists. On one side is the tea party faction of the Republican Party, which forced the current sesquestration deadline into law in 2011, while on the other are ultra-liberal Democrats, who are demanding tax hikes for those making over $250,000 while completely preserving entitlement programs.
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Both factions now appear willing to let the cliff become reality, and it’s got lawmakers on Capitol Hill seeing red, and not the deficit kind. One lawmaker in particular, Steve LaTourette (R-OH) is particularly miffed with the caucus, called out the tea party in a Dec. 29 report by Fox News.
“It’s the same 40 to 50 chuckleheads that have screwed this place up all year.”
On the Democrats’ side, a Dec. 31 Washington Post report states Iowa Senator Tom Harkin blasted Vice President Joe Biden over reports he presented a back-door deal to Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). According to the Post, Harkin appears to be perfectly willing to let the cliff be realized.
“If we’re going to have some kind of a deal, the deal must be one that really does favor the middle class, the real middle class, those that are making $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year. That’s the real middle class in America. As I see this thing developing, quite frankly, as I’ve said before — no deal is better than a bad deal. And this looks like a very bad deal the way this is shaping up.”
Interestingly, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, considered among the most stridently liberal members of her party, offered what may be the most moderate words spoken during the entire crisis.
“We all know that no side, if there is a deal, is going to get 100 percent of what they want. We know that because one party doesn’t control everything.”
One Senator, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, introduced emergency legislation Sunday in an attempt to create a “soft landing” for the economy should the cliff be realized at midnight, Dec. 31. The bill, ironically titled the “CALM Act,” has been proposed as a method of introducing the cliff-mandated tax hikes and spending cuts in a more measured fashion than the current law requires, which Manchin believes could buy Congress time to contain any damage.
“If we’re determined to go over the cliff, we’ve got to do something to soften the landing, because at the bottom of the fiscal cliff are immediate and massive tax increases, deep and indiscriminate spending cuts, and the risk of another recession.” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), speaking on the Senate floor Dec. 29.
One looming casualty of cliff talks may be food prices. Because of preoccupation with the fiscall cliff, a new farm bill wasn’t passed for 2013, which may result in skyrocketing milk prices in the new year because of a pricing structure for government dairy purchases created by a 1949 statute. Analysts say that milk prices could go as high as $9 a gallon in some parts of the nation, and that only renewed farm subsidies can prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, cliff talks have pushed the bill to the back burner, leaving economists fearing the nation will be going off a so-called “dairy cliff.” Those same experts warn the lack of a farm bill, and the resulting jump in milk prices, could push the nation back into a recession all by itself.
As the quartet of McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and President Barack Obama continue their race against the clock, Americans are now left wondering what the impact to their own wallets may be. A Dec. 27 Rasmussen poll shows that 55 percent of those surveyed believe the nation is on the “wrong track.” In a strange twist, however, a Dec. 29 Rasmussen poll shows that 56 percent of those surveyed approved of the job President Obama is doing.
RELATED: Latest polls from RealClearPolitics.
With the window for a deal closing, Congress may want to take heed of a Russian story about their submarine fleet.
Russian president, Vladamir Putin, was being given a tour of his country’s newest nuclear submarine, which was undergoing final fit out in Murmansk. As he and the captain entered one compartment he noticed a crewman was mounting a hammer on the wall. ‘I like the hammer,’ he says, ‘I notice you have put them up in many compartments – as symbols of Russian solidarity I presume? Oh they are not symbols,’ explains the Captain, ‘They’re part of the sub’s communications system.’ ‘Really? How do they work?’ asks a now confused Putin.
‘They are used to tap messages on the hull when we sink!’