Quantcast

Fiscal cliff looms closer

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 1/3/2013, 2:17 p.m.

Over the last week or so, President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner have been tte--tte on private phone calls, which have precipitated a number of suppositions about their content.

At the core of the calls is what's to be done about the impending fiscal cliff and its impact on the American economy. It was reported last week that Boehner was beginning to soften his stance and, to some degree, agree to an appreciable tax hike for millionaires. However, in exchange, he was asking for decisive entitlement cuts that Obama and the Democrats would never concede.

More recently, a parallel strategy has come forth from the Republicans to avert the fiscal cliff, this time proposing a bill that would hike tax rates on incomes over $1 million, while at the same time extending cuts for the rest of Americans. According to Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the bill would never get the 218 votes needed for passage. Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the proposal was "dead on arrival."

It seems that the bill offered is little more than a ruse by the Republicans to cover themselves if the Jan. 1 deadline is not met and the economy goes plummeting over the cliff, with the vast majority of Americans witnessing an increase in taxes. By suggesting a tax hike for those making more than $1 million, they can claim they put forth a tax for millionaires.

With less than two weeks before the deadline, the two sides appear as divided as ever on an answer to the problem.

One of the sticking points is entitlements, particularly Medicare, which could experience something in the neighborhood of $400 billion in cuts. Then there's the military and Pentagon cuts that could exceed $1.2 trillion. Additionally, will the Obama administration continue to demand an uptick in the debt ceiling, on which the GOPers have been especially adamant?

Now that we've seen Boehner's Plan A and plan B, there is clearly a lot of alphabet in front of us--but the clock is ticking.