In a surprise move House Speaker John Boehner went to the White House yesterday to meet with the President and try to move the fiscal cliff negotiations ahead. The afternoon meeting was a surprise as it was not on Obama’s schedule and it was the first time in three weeks he offered to “get his hands dirty” by getting involved in the negotiations. The two must be serious about finding a compromise because rather than the usual charges back and forth–after the talks, White House spokesman Josh Earnest and Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck issued identical statements.
“This afternoon, the president and Speaker Boehner met at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the fiscal cliff. We’re not reading out details of the conversation, but the lines of communication remain open.”
The real stumbling block in the negotiations is not adding to the tax burden of the top 2% of earners (Boehner made that concession the day after the election) but how to raise them. The president and his supporters insist on the actual percentage tax rate being raised, Boehner insists that it has to be done through closing loopholes.
Understand That Obama’s strategy objective in the fiscal cliff negotiations has nothing to do with economics or real fiscal reform. This is entirely about politics. It’s simply part 2 of the presidential campaign. His fiscal cliff position is designed to break the Republican opposition and grant him political supremacy, something he thinks he earned with his “landslide” 2.8% victory on Election Day.
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Either way the effect will be the same taking an extra $80 billion dollars a year from the job creators. And through it all the Republicans seem to be spending more time negotiating with themselves than with the progressives:
There have been some public departures from that thinking however. On Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said he’d support raising taxes on the top 2% of households, arguing it will better position Republicans to negotiate for larger spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare despite opposition from many Democrats.
“A lot of people are putting forth a theory, and I actually think it has merit, where you go ahead and give the president … the rate increase on the top 2%, and all of a sudden the shift goes back to entitlements,” Corker said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Corker is not entirely alone, as fellow Republican Sens. Tom Coburn, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have said they could vote for such a limited tax hike.
There have been fewer higher-profile voices express that opinion in the House, though. One of them, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, reiterated Sunday that he could go along with this scenario.
“You have to do something, and doing something requires the cooperation of the Senate, which the Democrats run, and the signature of the president,” Cole said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
But one of his colleagues, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, said the Republicans shouldn’t budge. Despite the loss of Republican seats in the House and Senate, Blackburn argued voters affirmed support for the GOP on Election Day and “clearly said we don’t want our taxes to go up.”
“The president thinks he has momentum, I think he is running on adrenaline from the campaign,” the Tennessee lawmaker told CNN.
Personally there is too much talk going on —-too many negotiators. I disagree with each parties version of tax increase, but with all of the Republicans publicly announcing they are caving on the issue, I am not sure the speaker has a choice.
Yesterday’s meeting was just a “first move-” don’t expect the negotiations to get real serious till next week and if they are wrapped up, it will not be till just before Christmas. If no deal is made then, fasten your seat belts—we will be going off the cliff.