Congressional leaders strike positive tone after White House meeting on the “fiscal cliff”
Congressional leaders expressed optimism that an agreement can be reached to avert the fiscal cliff following their first meeting with President Barack Obama since the election.
“We had a very constructive meeting with the President to talk about America’s fiscal problem,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. “I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that’s right in front of us today.”
Echoing Boehner’s optimistic tone, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed confidence that a deficit reduction deal could be reached before the end of the year.
Reid said that talks will continue among lawmakers during the Thanksgiving recess and that they will re-group with the President by the end of the month.
“We have a plan. We’re going to move forward on it,” Reid said. “We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out. We’re both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem…We feel very comfortable with each other, and this isn’t something that we’re going to wait until the last day of December to get it done.”
Without going into details, Boehner said he has outlined a tax reform and spending cut plan during the meeting that he felt was “consistent with the President’s call for a fair and balanced approach.”
“To show our seriousness, we’ve put revenue on the table as long as it’s accompanied by significant spending cuts,” said Boehner.
However, it’s unclear whether the tax reforms Boehner proposed would involve rate increases for the top two income brackets – which Republicans have long resisted – or involve eliminating tax deductions and tax preferences that would raise the tax burden on middle-income Americans.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s willing to put revenue on the table but stressed that the focus should be on reforming entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare to “fit the demographics of the changing America in the coming years.” America’s aging population is driving up spending for these programs.
“We’re prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem,” said McConnell.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers to reach a deficit deal by Christmas to “send a message of confidence to consumers, to the market in the short-run.”
“As we cut investments and as we talked about revenue, we have to do so in a way that promotes growth and supports the future,” said Pelosi. “It was good. I feel confident that a solution may be in sight.”
- C-Span.org: Video of Congressional leaders after meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the fiscal cliff on Nov. 16, 2012
- C-Span.org: Video of President Barack Obama speaking to reporters prior to the meeting with Congressional leaders on Nov. 16, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Remarks by Congressional leaders after meeting with President Obama to discuss the fiscal cliff
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: President Obama’s remarks before meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the fiscal cliff
- WhatTheFolly.com: White House holds “fiscal cliff” talks with Congressional leaders this week
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama wins re-election, renews call for bipartisanship to solve nation’s debt problem
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s press briefing on the fiscal cliff on Nov. 9, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: President Obama: Everybody’s taxes will increase if Congress fails to pass deficit reduction package by Dec. 31
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s post-election press briefing
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: House Majority Leader John Boehner’s post-election press briefing
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