Fiscal Cliff: Drink Some Eggnog and Deal With It
The Mayan apocalypse didn't take out Earth today as doomsayers predicted, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) may have not wanted to get out of bed regardless.
The B-pocalypse -- also known as the disastrous crash-and-burn plan of Boehner's to force a compromise on the fiscal cliff -- rippled through Washington today, raising questions not only about the deadline just 10 days away but whether Republicans can even find a foothold anymore in negotiations moving into the holidays.
Boehner told reporters the morning after that his bill couldn't come to the floor last night because it lacked the votes for passage -- not the outcome he wanted, but "the will of the House."
"So unless the president and Congress take action, the tax rates will go up on every American taxpayer and devastating defense cuts will go into effect in 10 days," he warned.
"I don't want taxes to go up; Republicans don't want taxes to go up. But we only run the House. Democrats continue to run Washington."
As to what went wrong last night, Boehner blamed a "perception" that his Plan B -- which raised the threshold for the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts from the president's $250,000 to $1 million -- amounted to a tax increase.
"Now, we had a number of our members who just really didn't want to be perceived as having raised taxes. That was the real issue," he said.
"I have told my colleagues this: If you do the right things every day for the right reasons, the right things will happen. And, while we may have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of the tax increases, I don't think -- they weren't taking that out on me. They -- they were dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of raising taxes," Boehner concluded, leaving the press with a curt "Merry Christmas, everyone."
President Obama suggested that lawmakers could come to a place of reason -- e.g., his proposal -- by indulging in some Christmas cheer over the holiday break.
"During the course of these negotiations, I offered to compromise with Republicans in Congress. I met them halfway on taxes and I met them more than halfway on spending. In terms of actual dollar amounts, we're not that far apart," Obama said in an early evening statement in the press briefing room, after speaking with Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The president again called on Congress to extend middle-class tax rates and then come back to upper incomes at another, undetermined time.
"At the very least, let's agree right now on what we already agree on," he said.
Obama claimed that with the last election, "the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility between both parties."
"In this Congress, laws can only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. And that means nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. Everybody's gotta give a little bit in a sensible way. We move forward together, or we do not move forward at all," he continued.
"So, as we leave town for a few days to be with our families for the holidays, I hope it gives everybody some perspective. Everybody can cool off. Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing -- sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones."
He told lawmakers to think about their "obligations" while enjoying holiday merriment and about economic recovery.
"Now is not the time for more self-inflicted wounds, certainly not those coming from Washington."
Obama didn't take any questions before leaving for his Christmas vacation in Honolulu.
House Democratic leaders put on a similar news conference earlier in the day, saying the president had made concessions and Republicans weren't being fair.
"Every time we are close to a solution, whether it was a year-and-a-half ago in the summer or right now, the Republicans walk away. And when we thought we were close this week, Republicans decided to follow another path -- a path that led them over the cliff, a route in which they even did not have the votes," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.
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