With fewer than 18 hours before America goes over the fiscal cliff, there is still no deal in Congress to fix it. While Vice-President Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell continue to work to solve an impasse in the Senate, the House is doing nothing but waiting to see.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) saw this coming and introduced a bill Sunday that he labeled CALM to soften the landing of going over the cliff. The bill called the Cliff Alleviation at the Last Minute Act would gradually phase in the tax increases and allow the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to propose substitute cuts to replace sequestration.
According to The Hill, Manchin said he was not “excited about or proud to offer” the bill, describing it as “merely a better plan than going over the cliff.” “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,” he said on the floor Sunday.
The sad thing about Senator Manchin’s bill is there is probably no way even it will pass Congress.
Monday morning “people familiar with the negotiations” said that the vice-president and Senator McConnell made good progress during the night various news outlets reported Monday morning. That might have been better news a month ago, but it is almost a cruel tease this close to the deadline.
Even if an agreement is reached, every senator would need to vote for it to act this close to the deadline without normal procedures, and then it would need to be passed House. The House could not even pass Speaker Boehner’s own bill. It would take 40 Republican House members and all Democrats in the House would have to vote for it, and not all Democrats like what they are hearing about the yet-to-be-announced deal.
Despite the odds, many Capitol correspondents are sounding optimistic Monday morning that a bill will be passed.
The question remains is a bad bill rushed through at the last moment to make it look like Congress is doing something better than going over the cliff? At this point would the country be better off if Congress put a bigger and more comprehensive bill together next week? Any bill that might be passed by Congress in less than a day is bound to have holes in it. More than likely it will be a patch and the big issues will be kicked down the road for two weeks.
Congress seems to be reacting to public opinion. With half a day to go, there is “talk” that the Republican House will pass a temporary bill to stop milk from going to $7 or $8 dollars a gallon next week. Why was that not done months ago?
It is a sad commentary that the only potential bi-partisanship in Congress is a last minute short-term deal to kick the can down the road. Senator Manchin is correct that Congress is the biggest threat to our economy.
It is not all of Congress, Republicans are mostly to blame. This entire crisis is due to their desire to accomplish social engineering through government policy. They want an economy tilted toward the top 1% and the 99% gets to pay all the bills. They never liked Social Security, Medicare, or any other social net program, and they see this “crisis” as their leverage to get rid of them. No short-term patch will fix the social engineering problem, only voters can, and in red states, voters see to have no interest in doing so.
So we wait to see the next move in the Tea Plantation.
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