Daunting Task in front of Lawmakers
Deadlines are common for Congress, but trying to avert increases of more than $600 billion in taxes and cuts in spending, in less than a week could prove to be even more than Congress can pull off. The current predicament Congress finds themselves in is due to their failure to act at an earlier time.
Starting fresh after the holiday, both sides have voiced hope that the January 1 deadline will pressure Congress into finally reaching an agreement on the fiscal crisis. President Obama has decided to cut short his holiday in Hawaii by returning Wednesday evening to start working in Washington early Thursday morning.
Officials said there is nearly a unanimous desire by lawmakers, with only a couple of exceptions, to avert the income and investment tax increases, the cuts in defense and the end to long term unemployment benefits. However, very few lawmakers have spelled out how an agreement will be reached to avert all that from happening.
A spokesperson for John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, said President Obama and Boehner did not speak during the long weekend. Republican leaders in the House and Democratic leaders in the Senate both said on Monday there was not anything new to say.
Options to help avert the crisis were fewer last week after House Speaker Boehner pulled Plan B from the House floor, citing very little support from fellow Republicans. That legislation, though opposed fiercely by the Democrats, would have given an extension to the tax rates for all those that made less than $1 million annually.
The Washington Congressional Budget Office said that if the stalemate between parties does not avert the fiscal cliff then a double dip recession would take place in the U.S. in 2013.