President Obama met with House and Senate leaders on Friday afternoon in a last minute meeting aimed at resolving a political stalemate over how to resolve the federal budget impasse and avoid sending the U.S. over the looming “fiscal cliff”and into a recession.
“Well, we’re now at the last minute, and the American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. Not right now,” Obama said to reporters.
If House and Senate leaders are unable to reach a compromise before the January 1st deadline, the United States heads over the “fiscal cliff” and Americans will be faced with over $ 600 billion in automatic tax hikes and federal spending cuts.
President Obama struck a positive tone after Friday’s meeting at the White House, describing it as a good and constructive discussion while also admitting that he is still modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved that can pass both Houses.
Following the meeting at the White House, the attention now shifts to Senate Democrat majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) who will be expected to come up with a packaged budget deal that can pass through the Republican majority Congress.
“Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement as we speak” Obama said.
“But, if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up or down vote, one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction” he continued.
If an agreement is not reached by the Senate leaders, Obama said he wanted both chambers in Congress to vote on an earlier proposal that he made consisting of tax rate increases only for households earning more than $250,000 a year, which is lower than the $ 400,000 a year threshold that he said will compromise with in recent days.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) spoke yesterday to guest host Ezra Klein on The Rachel Maddow Show and said that the sentiment on Capitol Hill is in favor of working out a deal.
“I think the mood among the colleagues on both sides of the aisle is they would like to see something get done” Coburn said.
“And what that means is whatever that comes out that is in the middle ground we are all going to have some things that we won’t like about it but we will swallow so that we can do what is best for the country” he said.
Coburn said it is abject failure of leadership on “everyone’s part” that at this late in the day no compromise was brokered.
On Sunday House lawmakers will meet again on Capitol Hill. Any agreement between the two Senate leaders would initially go to the Senate for a vote. Then the House would be asked to approve the deal which may not even come until Jan. 2, the final full day before a new Congress takes office.