Fiscal Cliff Notes for Dec. 22, 2012
9 days to the fiscal cliff
FISCAL CLIFF IN LIMBO AS OBAMA, CONGRESS HEADS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
President Barack Obama hit Hawaii early Saturday morning--he spends every Christmas in his native state. The House and Senate are on Christmas break. The fiscal cliff talks are in limbo for a few days. Lawmakers should be braced to return to Washington after Christmas. Maybe even spend New Years in D.C.
A few hours before Obama flew to Hawaii, he stopped at the White House briefing room to deliver a negotiation update:
"I just spoke to Speaker Boehner and I also met with Senator Reid. In the next few days, I've asked leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans, and lays the groundwork for further work on both growth and deficit reduction. That's an achievable goal. That can get done in 10 days.
"Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers. And I will immediately sign that legislation into law, before January 1st of next year. It's that simple.
"Averting this middle-class tax hike is not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility. With their votes, the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility between both parties. In this Congress, laws can only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. And that means nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. Everybody has got to give a little bit, in a sensible way. We move forward together, or we don't move forward at all.
"So, as we leave town for a few days to be with our families for the holidays, I hope it gives everybody some perspective. Everybody can cool off; everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones. And then I'd ask every member of Congress while they're back home to think about that. Think about the obligations we have to the people who sent us here. Think about the hardship that so many Americans will endure if Congress does nothing at all."
BOEHNER SATURDAY ADDRESS: ON AVERTING THE FISCAL CLIFF
"As you know, unless President Obama and Congress take action, tax rates will go up on every American on January 1st.
"The day after that, a mandatory 'sequester' will go into effect that will implement harmful cuts to our national defense. That is currently the law of the land.
"The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff. On the 10th of May and again on Thursday, we passed legislation that would replace the 'sequester' with responsible spending cuts. We also passed a bill to stop all of the January 1 tax hikes. The events of the past week make it clearer than ever that these measures reflect the will of the House.
"The American people re-elected President Obama on Election Day. They also re-elected a Republican majority in the House. In doing so, they gave us all a mandate. It was not a mandate to raise tax rates on families and small businesses. It was a mandate for us to work together to begin solving the massive debt that threatens our country's future.
"Unfortunately, the president and Senate Democrats have vowed to reject and veto all of our proposals while failing to offer a responsible solution of their own.
"What the president has offered so far simply won't do anything to solve our spending problem and begin to address our nation's crippling debt. Instead, he wants more spending and more tax hikes that will hurt our economy. And he refuses to challenge the members of his party to deal honestly with entitlement reform and the big issues facing our nation. That is why we find ourselves here today.
"I've challenged the members of our party to grapple with these issues, to make tough choices. And we're willing to - because Washington has a serious spending problem. This was the year the size of our debt - all 16 trillion dollars of it - surpassed the size of our entire economy. It's a grim milestone, one of many we'll have to bear if we don't come to grips with it.
"The president's solution of raising tax rates would still leave red ink as far as the eye can see. And it would hurt jobs, at a time when far too many of our citizens are struggling to find them.
"I used to run a small business. I've seen the damage higher taxes can do to jobs and families. I don't want tax rates to go up. Republicans don't want tax rates to go up. The best way to address our crippling debt is to make significant spending cuts and fix our tax code to pave the way for long-term growth and opportunity. This is an approach most Americans support, and it remains Republicans' highest priority. But we only run the House. Democrats run Washington.
"Of course, hope springs eternal, and I know we have it in us to come together and do the right thing. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Congress and the White House on a plan that protects families and small businesses.
"For now, I wish all the American people a blessed and Merry Christmas."