DC Download: A 'Cliffmas' to remember

(LIN) — If we go over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” it won’t be because both sides didn’t talk about it. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have expressed their opinions many times recently. Unfortunately, most of those times have been behind a microphone, leaving the one-on-one conversations on the backburner.

While some compromise has been made, both sides have yet to reach an agreement on how to avert the tax increases and spending cuts slated for year’s end.

Have your eyes and ears glazed over the “cliff” news lately? No worries. Here’s the latest on where both sides stand on the “fiscal cliff” talks:

On taxes

Both Obama and Boehner have moved closer to compromise on this front.  Initially, Boehner opposed any tax hikes where Obama wanted to raise taxes for individuals making more than $200,000, or couples making more than $250,000 a year.

Now, Boehner has agreed to allow taxes rates to rise for those making more than $1 million a year, raising the highest rate from 35 percent to nearly 40 percent.

Obama’s latest proposal includes freezing tax rates for all tax payers making $400,000 or less, but raising them for people making more.

On the debt limit

Currently, the United States’ debt limit is $16.394 trillion, raised from $15.194 trillion on Jan. 1, 2012.

Obama wants to raise the amount the government is allowed to borrow for the next two years. This, he believes, will avoid another “fiscal cliff” situation with Congress again until after the 2014 elections.

Republicans are fighting this tooth and nail as their primary agenda is cutting budgets and keeping spending under control.

On Social Security benefits

Right now, both Obama and Boehner want to reduce cost-of-living expenses for Social Security recipients, which would play a part in reducing the country’s deficit.

On the flip side, this would cause low- and middle-income taxpayers to pay more Social Security taxes.

On Medicare

In what used to be a deal-breaker for Boehner, he’s now saying that raising the eligibility age for Medicare doesn’t have to be part of the deal.

Initially, Boehner wanted to raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67, but Obama has stood his ground.

Obama is trying to protect Medicare while Republicans want to overhaul the entire system. Obama’s plan is to limit cuts in Medicare to $400 billion over the span of 10 years.


It doesn’t appear a deal will be made between both sides before Christmas. If the days between Christmas and Dec. 31 are anything like the past few weeks, we may go over the so-called “cliff,” causing tax rates to increase for everyone and potentially a market collapse.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said some members of Congress may return to Capitol Hill on Dec. 27 to help strike a deal before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, Congress does not convene again until Jan. 3.


DC Download is a week-in-review featuring the latest news from Capitol Hill published every Friday. Get the latest political news at  onPolitix.com,  and join in the conversation on  Facebook  and  Twitter.


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