The Hill has recently reported that progress is being made in Senate fiscal cliff negotiations between Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) following a meeting with President Obama and others today:
Senate leaders emerged optimistic from a Friday afternoon meeting at the White House with President Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Vice President Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also attended.
Obama told reporters late Friday thereis still time to reach a deal.
“I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time,” he said in a live statement to the press after which he declined to take questions.
Of course, Obama is not presenting any new proposals as part of the negotiations. Instead, he is keeping his target for tax increases at families earning $250 thousand a year. This, then, is the starting point for the negotiations. It is widely expected that McConnell will counter with raising the income level to $400 thousand in an effort to get a deal passed; but the question is whether the tax-peddling Democrats will compromise and agree to the higher income level. If not, Reid will force and up or down vote on the $250 thousand income level:
If Reid and McConnell fail to reach agreement by Sunday, Reid will bring to the floor a bill that extends income tax rates on family income below $250,000 and unemployment benefits and dare Republicans to vote against it.
Therein lies the rub; and why the dissention over Plan B mattered. If the House Republicans passed Plan B, then the could have dared the Senate Democrats to vote against it. Now, the ball is back in Obama’s court, and he’s serving up $250 thousand. Unfortunately, taxes are going up whether we like it or not. By failing to pass Plan B, the Republicans kneecapped themselves, and now they will be going up on a higher percentage of Americans. The best that the Republicans can hope for now is not a hike on those making $1 million or more, but rather a hike on those making $400 thousand or more; that’s only if the Democrats agree to compromise, certainly not likely.
Let’s face it, there’s no real incentive for the They are more than happy to let the country go over the fiscal cliff so that taxes go up on everyone. That’s why these negotiations are nothing more than kabuki theater. If we go over the cliff, the Democrats can then introduce new cuts for the middle class and come out smelling like roses – they know that the Republicans will be blamed for higher taxes, so they have nothing to lose and have no need to negotiate in good faith. The Republicans know this too, which is why they want to agree to a deal at $400 thousand, but will most likely cave at $250 thousand. Everything else is just playacting.