White House and Congress to Intensify Fiscal Cliff Talks Next Week
This week is known as a lost one in terms of the discussions to find a solution to the fiscal cliff. President Barack Obama was in Asia for most part of the week while Congress was on recess. Budget analysts expected little to no progress made this week.
Staff from the Obama administration and Congress has met several times this week but they showed no signs of significant change on positions with regards to the vital talking points of the negotiations. This didn’t surprise observers.
Leaders of Congress and President Obama said that last Friday’s session was constructive and the two parties must work together for the good of the nation. The president met with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the White House Friday for more than an hour. The administration’s team consisted of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, and White House chief of staff Jack Lew.
President Obama hasn’t set a meeting date for next week but he is expected to meet with the group again to give more direction to the negotiations. They have a month to accomplish their central purpose to avoid the fiscal cliff and start working on decreasing the budget deficit.
During last week’s session the president and congressional leaders looked inclined to work toward a two-step approach. The first step is to find a framework agreement in the next couple of weeks in which the two parties agree on long term solutions on revenue and spending as well as a specific deficit reduction down payment that could be approve in the Lame Duck session of Congress.
The second step is for Congress’ tax and spending committees to pass a detailed legislation early next year that would secure the revenue and spending goals that were already agreed upon. The measure must include a comprehensive tax reform.