Will Safety Nets Entangle a Cliff Deal?

Will Safety Nets Entangle a Cliff Deal?

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President Obama showed a willingness to consider changes to Social Security in failed deficit talks last year with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but the White House said the retirement program should be off the table this time around.

“We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Republicans have repeatedly insisted that—in exchange for accepting tax hikes—Democrats must curb spending on entitlements. White House officials and some Democrats say they are willing to make cuts from Medicare by trimming payments to drug companies, hospitals and other health care providers, ruling out structural changes that would increase costs for typical beneficiaries.  -  Read more at The New York Times

Obama and Boehner Scramble for Allies    The president is scheduled to meet with business leaders from around the country, as well as hold campaign-style events in Washington this week to drum up support for his proposal to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of earners while preserving existing tax breaks for the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh, and other top Republicans are scheduled to meet with Erskine Bowles, who offered a debt-reduction plan in 2010, which called for $800 billion in revenue through an overhaul of the tax code and significant cuts to Medicare and other federal health programs.  -  Read more at The Washington Post

Companies Pay Out Dividends Early   With hefty tax increases looming, more U.S. companies are approving bigger payouts and cutting checks fast before the end of the year just in case Washington sends the economy cruising over the fiscal cliff with higher tax rates waiting at the bottom.

Major corporations like retailer Dillard's Inc. and casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp.—run by prominent GOP donor Sheldon Adelson—are planning to pay new, one-time dividends next month. Dillard's plans to pay its fourth-quarter dividend in December, breaking from a decade-long tradition of paying it in the new year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Dillard's $5 dividend will cost the company $235.7 million, with much of the money going to its controlling family. Walmart also moved up its dividend payment from Jan 2. to Dec. 27.

Even if Congress and the White House cut a deal to stave off a fiscal catastrophe, companies are still expecting tax rates on dividends to go up next year as Congress searches for new revenue to narrow the deficit.  -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

For more news on the approaching fiscal cliff, follow us on Twitter @Fiscalcliffnote

Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.