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Last ditch Oval Office huddle: 3 days to the fiscal cliff

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Fiscal Cliff Notes for Dec. 28, 2012
3 days to the fiscal cliff


BREAKING NEWS: GOP HOUSE MEMBERS MEETING FRIDAY MORNING IN ADVANCE OF OVAL OFFICE HUDDLE

The four top congressional leaders head over to the Oval Office for a 3 p.m. meeting Friday with President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden--in what will be a series of last-ditch efforts to avoid going over the fiscal cliff on Dec. 31--which is increasingly likely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the meeting very public "political theater" Thursday night over at Fox News "On the Record" hosted by Greta Van Susteren.

By that he means the huddle may be more show than go.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill today:

at 9 a.m., the GOP House members meet in the Capitol.

at 11:30 a.m. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and a group described as "working people" hold a New Year's Eve countdown style press event--yes, with a disco ball--to pressure Republicans to not let tax rates rise for most people in order to preserve tax breaks due to expire Dec. 31 for the top earners.

POISED TO GO OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF

Not many pathways to avoid going over the cliff; it may be easier to make a deal after the fall. My Friday column on this point and more is HERE.

My argument:

Why easier?

While bargaining continues over the income cut-off: $250,000, or $400,000 or $1 million, a vote before Dec. 31 would raise taxes for some top earners. Once the automatic hikes occur, a January vote, whether in the current or new Congress, would be for a tax cut for most people -- which for some Republicans would be easier to do politically.

Another reason: The first thing the new Congress does on Jan. 3 is elect a new Speaker. Boehner may have an easier negotiating hand in this fiscal cliffhanger once he is re-elected.

AN ELEMENT IN A SENATE COMPROMISE

Since it takes a supermajority to pass a measure in the Senate, the majority Democrats have more incentive to negotiate with the minority Republicans. The Hill story is HERE about elements--including over the estate tax--that could woo GOP Senate votes on compromise fiscal cliff legislation.



REFRESHER COURSE: FAQ'S ON THE FISCAL CLIFF

The Washington Post Fiscal Cliff 101 short course is HERE.

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