The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

December 25, 2012

Your financial cliff Q & A

By Richard Rubin and Margaret Collins

Bloomberg News


WASHINGTON — Negotiations over a U.S. budget deal are stalled after congressional leaders headed home for the Christmas holiday without a resolution.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner haven’t reached an agreement to avoid more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to start taking effect in January.

Here are questions and answers about the so-called fiscal cliff and where talks stand:

Q: Where do the negotiations stand now?

A: It’s not clear. Until Dec. 17, Boehner and Obama were edging closer to a deal that would have included about $1 trillion each in spending cuts and tax increases over the next decade.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, declared Obama’s last offer unacceptable because it lacked enough spending cuts and then tried to advance his own plan through the House. The House voted 215-209 Dec. 20 to pass a bill that cut $314.5 billion in spending and delayed most of the automatic cuts.

Then, the same day, Boehner scrapped a plan to allow higher tax rates on annual income above $1 million and permanently extend the rest of the income tax cuts. He yielded to anti-tax resistance within his party, saying he didn’t have enough votes to pass the bill.

Q: What happens next?

A: Each side wants the other to act.

Boehner said the Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama should come up with a plan they can send to the House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Boehner should allow a vote on a Senate-passed bill that would extend tax rates on income of married couples up to $250,000.

Obama urged leaders of both parties to work out an interim measure to prevent taxes from rising on middle-income Americans as they work on a more comprehensive package.

Lawmakers in the Senate and House headed home for the Christmas holiday and aren’t scheduled to return until Dec. 27, with less than a week to act before the so-called fiscal cliff.

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