Last-Minute Fiscal Cliff Blame Game: The 'Yes' Men
With less than 48 hours to go before the fiscal cliff, President Obama claimed that his side has the backing of "the majority of the American people including close to half of Republicans" as it pushes a "sensible deal" to raise taxes on upper-income brackets.
"I think it's important for the American people to understand exactly what this fiscal cliff is because it's actually not that complicated," Obama said this morning on NBC's Meet the Press. "...If we're serious about deficit reduction, we should make sure that the wealthy are paying a little bit more and combine that with spending cuts to reduce our deficit and put our economy on a long-term trajectory of growth."
The president said the onus is on Congress to arrive at a last-minute deal.
"You know, we have been talking to the Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers," he said. "Yesterday I had another meeting with the leadership and I suggested to them if they can't do a comprehensive package of smart deficit reduction, let's at minimum make sure that people's taxes don't go up. And that two million people don't lose their unemployment insurance. And I was modestly optimistic yesterday."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a statement responding to Obama's appearance, said, “Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame."
"The president’s comments today are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party. Needed cuts and reforms that the president agreed to just last year were no longer on the table, as he cited an inability to sell them to Democrats," Boehner said.
"We’ve been reasonable and responsible. The president is the one who has never been able to get to ‘yes,'" he added.
This morning on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said he'd been in touch with negotiators, who have been working all weekend.
"There is no deal yet. I continue to hope for a bipartisan agreement today," Barrasso said.
"What we’re seeing here is a monumental failure of Presidential leadership. The President is the only person with a pen to sign this, and it's the President's responsibility to work on something that the House will pass, the Senate will pass, and that he will sign, but he is outsourcing this," the senator added. "He continues to campaign and lecture when he ought to be focusing on the number one problem that hurts us as a country, which is our debt.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on ABC's This Week that there's "a real possibility of a deal" even though there have been no breakthroughs yet.
"I've been a legislator for 37 years, and I've watched how these things work. On these big, big agreements, they almost always happen at the last minute. Neither side likes to give up its position. They eyeball each other until the very end," Schumer said. "But then, each side, realizing that the alternative is worse, comes to an agreement. So while an agreement is hardly a certainty, I certainly wouldn't rule it out at this last minute."