How the Cliff Could Steal Christmas

How the Cliff Could Steal Christmas

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Don’t count on a fiscal cliff deal before Christmas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday after House Speaker John Boehner and the White House took turns accusing the other side of stalling progress on cliff negotiations…again.

Boehner blamed the slowdown on the president, saying he had yet to put forward a specific proposal on spending cuts. “The longer the White House slow walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff.”

The back-and-forth continued when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney immediately dismissed Boehner’s remarks at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, calling the speaker’s claims “inaccurate” saying it is "simply incontestable" that the Obama administration has put forth a plan to avert the fiscal cliff that includes spending cuts. He added that Republicans had yet to offer any details of their own on how to raise more revenue from taxes, "and it would be helpful if they did."  -  See the speaker’s remarks here

CLIFF CRUSHES BUSINESS CONFIDENCE    Businesses and consumers are starting to freak out over the fiscal cliff. The National Federation of Independent Business index of small business optimism plummeted 5.6 points to 87.5 in November, one of the lowest levels the index has been in 26-year history. The NFIB noted that the only time the index has been lower was during the great recession in 2008-2009.

“Nearly half of owners are now certain that things will be worse next year than they are now. Washington does not have the needs of small business in mind. Between the looming ‘fiscal cliff,’ the promise of higher healthcare costs and the endless onslaught of new regulations, owners are more pessimistic. We are forced to ask: is this the new normal?” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist in a statement.  See the survey here

SANDY RELIEF THROWN INTO FISCAL FIGHT    The $60.4 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief that the White House has requested was flung into the fiscal battle Tuesday, when GOP lawmakers questioned whether Northeastern states devastated by the storm needed that much money.

“Who’s analyzed this? Nobody to my knowledge has in a very sophisticated way laid out a plan,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, said of the request.  “And if it does take that much money, I would suggest we’d do better to approve what we know we need right now, and then come back later with more documented requests for more money.”

The Obama administration requested the funding on Friday, and had previously discussed including it in a broader fiscal cliff plan.  -  Read more at The Hill

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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.