Cliff Notes: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

| December 28 2012

Cliff Notes: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Unclear of what exactly they are supposed to be doing, lawmakers in Washington have jumped into the partisan blame game with both feet.  Just four days from pushing America off the fiscal cliff, negotiations have devolved into what some are calling an unserious “playground game” with the goal of avoiding responsibility for another failure.  With the major players giving up hope on compromise (despite such high hopes earlier this year), it will ultimately come down to whether President Obama can get everyone in a room and hammer out a deal. 

LAWMAKERS SPENDING MORE TIME PLACING BLAME THAN WORKING TOWARDS AVERTING THEIR OWN SELF-IMPOSED CRISIS

“A Playground Game Of ‘Who Goes First.’” “Lawmakers are engaged in a playground game of ‘who goes first,’ daring each political party to let the year end without resolving a Jan. 1 confluence of higher taxes and deep spending cuts that could rattle a recovering, but-still-fragile economy.” (Jim Kuhnhenn, “No Deal In Sight As Deadline For Fiscal Deal Nears,” Associated Press, 12/27/12)

@EzraKlein tweets, “Fiscal cliff talks have literally devolved to ‘No, you go first.’ ‘No, YOU go first.’ ‘No, YOU GO FIRST!’” (Ezra Klein, Twitter, 12/27/12)

Washington Spending More Time Placing Blame Than Averting Crisis. “[W]ith days left before the fiscal punch lands, both sides are exhibiting little sense of urgency, and new public statements Wednesday appeared to be designed more to ensure the other side is blamed rather than to foster progress toward a deal.”  (Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, “Senators to Return With 5 Days Left and No Clear Fiscal Path,” The New York Times, 12/27/12)

With No Legislation Pending, Congress Launches Personal Attacks. “A little more than four days from the deadline, there was no legislation pending in either the House or the Senate to stave off tax increases and spending cuts that economists say could send the economy into a recession. Far from conciliatory, the rhetoric was confrontational and at times unusually personal.” (Jim Kuhnhenn, “No Deal In Sight As Deadline For Fiscal Deal Nears,” Associated Press, 12/27/12)

NO ONE IN WASHINGTON WILLING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS PLAY THE BLAME GAME

Congress Confused About Whose Job It Is To Avert The Cliff:

House Calls On Senate To Find A Solution. “After a high-level telephone conference call, House Republican leaders called on the Senate to act but opened the door to bringing to the House floor any last-minute legislation the Senate could produce. (Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, “Senators to Return With 5 Days Left and No Clear Fiscal Path,” The New York Times, 12/27/12)

Senate Says Not So Fast. “But Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, instead called on House Republicans to pass an existing Senate measure that would prevent tax increases on household income up to $250,000.” (Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, “Senators to Return With 5 Days Left and No Clear Fiscal Path,” The New York Times, 12/27/12)

Legislators Scramble to Escape Responsibility, Blame The Other Side:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Calls John Boehner A Dictator, Blames Grover Norquist For No Deal. “Harry Reid this morning: Boehner is a dictator who is worried about his job & Grover Norquist is to blame for cliff.” (Luke Russert Twitter, MSNBC, 12/27/12)

POLITICO “Puzzled” Reid Seemingly Has “No Interest” In Getting A Deal. Ben White of POLITICO tweeted: @morningmoneyben ”A little puzzled that Sen. Reid seems to have no interest in trying to pass anything new to send to House.” (Ben White, Twitter, 12/27/12)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Is Still Waiting For President Obama’s Proposal. “Last night, I told the President that we’re all happy to look at whatever he proposes. But the truth is, we’re coming up against a hard deadline here, and, as I said, this is a conversation we should have had months ago.” (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “With Deadline Looming, Congress Awaits President’s Proposal for Avoiding Fiscal Cliff,” Press Release, 12/27/12)

House Speaker John Boehner Wants The Senate To Act First. “In a statement issued by Boehner and his top lieutenants, the Republican leadership team said ‘the Senate must act first’ to revive efforts to avert the $600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to be triggered on Jan. 1.”  (“John Boehner: Fiscal Cliff Problem Requires The Senate To Act First,” Reuters, 12/26/12)

“Nancy Pelosi Predicts ‘Democrats Will Stick With The President’ On Fiscal Cliff Deal.” (Sam Stein and Amanda Turkel, “Nancy Pelosi Predicts ‘Democrats Will Stick With The President’ On Fiscal Cliff Deal,” Huffington Post, 12/18/12)

But It Doesn’t Look Like President Obama Will Have Anything For Them To Stick By. “White House officials said Thursday that President Barack Obama will not send a fiscal cliff measure to Capitol Hill, while Republicans insisted they were expecting more details on the president’s proposal.” (Dana Bash and Tom Cohen, “White House: No Obama Proposal To Congress,” CNN, 12/27/12)

AS LAWMAKERS RETURN TO WASHINGTON, BASIC DUTIES OF GOVERNING REMAIN ELUSIVE

Lawmakers Unsure Of What Exactly They Should Be Doing:

Obama’s Return Could Be More About Optics Than Substance. “Given the apparent inactivity, Obama is open to the accusation that his return from Hawaii is a matter of optics, rather than substance. ‘I think Obama wants to avoid any perception that he isn’t doing everything he can to cut a deal,’ said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications. ‘It does not look good to be out there on the golf course or surfing when the average American is about to watch their financial status go down the drain.’” (Niall Stanage, “Obama looks to retain upper hand as fiscal talks resume in Washington,” The Hill, 12/27/12)

Senate Returns With Nothing To Do, No Legislation To Consider. “Senators will return to the Capitol on Thursday evening with nothing yet to consider. The series of votes waiting for them are unrelated to the fiscal deadline.” (Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, “Senators to Return With 5 Days Left and No Clear Fiscal Path,” The New York Times, 12/27/12)

House GOP Strikes “Productive Tone,” Vows To Cooperate On “Whatever Legislation” Senate Approves. “House Republican leaders promised Wednesday that the lower chamber would consider any measures to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff,’ but first the Senate must pass something for their consideration. In a joint statement, top House Republicans struck a productive tone, vowing to contemplate whatever legislation the Senate approves, if the upper chamber is unwilling to take up prior measures passed by the House.” (Pete Schroeder, “House GOP Leaders Push Senate To Act,” The Hill, 12/26/12)

Ultimately It’s Incumbent On President Obama To Get A Deal:

“With each side refusing to make the first move, it may be incumbent upon Obama to give a negotiated bill one last try, presuming he can get all the stakeholders in the same room.” (“Finger-pointing begins as Reid says ‘we’re headed’ to fiscal crisis,” FoxNews.com, 12/27/12)

BankruptingAmerica.org is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest