Cliff-Diving into the New Year

Cliff-Diving into the New Year

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Happy New Year! Looks like Congress is sending us over the cliff after all. (at least temporarily.) Even if the Senate moves on a deal today, the House will likely not bring it to a vote until tomorrow, CNBC reports. Though both parties say a deal is in reach, it remains uncertain whether the upper chamber plans to hold a vote tonight.

BUT AT LEAST THERE’S A DEAL IN THE MAKING   The Senate is “very, very close to a deal,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Monday afternoon. McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were up all night working out an agreement on taxes, but they are still negotiating how to deal with the across-the-board sequester cuts that are set to trigger on Jan 2.

The emerging deal includes raising tax rates on families earning more than $450,000 a year, increasing the estate tax rate to 40 percent after the first $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a couple, and extending unemployment insurance benefits for one year.

Even if the Senate passes this deal today, it remains unclear how it will fare in the House. Some aides say a vote in the House could be delayed until tomorrow. Read more at The Fiscal Times 

OBAMA:  IT’S NOT A DONE DEAL   Shortly after news broke that leaders were zeroing in on a deal, President Obama held a press conference at the White House, confirming that a compromise was in sight, but wasn’t there yet. The president chastised Congress for waiting until the very last minute to work out a deal and continued pressing Republicans to consider raising more revenues through raising taxes on the wealthy. “They have to get this done. They are close but not there yet. One thing we can count on…if there’s even one second left to do what you’re supposed to do…they will use that last second.”  -  Read the president’s remarks here 

GOP: OBAMA’S COMMENTS HURT CLIFF DEAL GOP members and aides immediately pushed back against the president’s fiscal cliff address, saying his remarks would make a deal harder to reach. “If Obama’s goal was to harm the process and make going over the cliff more likely, he’s succeeding,” tweeted Doug Heye, a top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN, shared Heye’s dissatisfaction with the president’s speech, and slammed Obama’s suggestion that lawmakers consider new taxes as an acceptable offset to delaying the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.

“I know the president has fun heckling Congress,” Corker said. “It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t spend as much time working on solving problems as he does with campaigns and pep rallies.”  -   Read more at The Washington Post 

SOME DEMOCRATS ‘DISTURBED’ AT CLIFF DEAL   While House Republicans are likely the biggest hurdle to getting the emerging deal to the president’s desk, not all Democrats are on board either. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IO, said he was “disturbed” to hear that Democrats had agreed to raising the threshold for income tax increases to $450,000 from the $250,000 President Obama campaigned for relentlessly.  “I just think that’s grossly unfair,” Harkens said on the Senate floor.  "No deal is better than a bad deal. And this look like a very bad deal the way this is shaping up.” Read more at The Huffington Post  

JOSE CANSECO’S SWING AT A FISCAL CLIFF SOLUTION   If the Senate’s emerging deal doesn’t go anywhere, former Oakland A’s outfielder, Jose Canseco took a swing at crafting a fallback plan on his Twitter account Monday to save the country from crashing over the fiscal cliff.

Canseco, who made clear to his followers that he was “more than muscles” tweeted his plan, saying the fiscal cliff was “easy to solve.”

First, Canseco instructed, Congress should “replace the income tax with a spending tax” because “spending tax rewards savers and normal workers and hits the rich guys”…which makes “consuming go down and helps save the Earth.” Canseco also suggests that we “bring our boys back from central East” because “Military spending in sandy nations is crazy. And we can use that money for schools here.” Finally, Canseco recommends that members of Congress vote to make their own jobs voluntary. “They get plenty of perks and book deals and power they should be paying us.”

Should the current fiscal cliff deal fall apart in the final hour of negotiations, President Obama and House Speaker Boehner should find comfort in knowing that Canseco is here for them if they need him.“Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner I am available if you need me and can help. You can do it God bless American. Hug.”  -  See Canseco’s home run of a fiscal cliff proposal here 

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.