Obama "Modestly Optimistic" on Fiscal Cliff, Urges Vote

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 28 2012 7:08 PM

As Senate Leaders Work on Fiscal Cliff Deal, Obama Urges "Up-or-Down Vote"

158785600
"This is déjà vu all over again,” President Obama said of the last-minute scramble to reach a fiscal cliff deal even though lawmakers have known about the deadline for a year and a half

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

After the White House meeting everyone had described as critical amid the impending fiscal cliff, optimism seemed to be the word of the day. “I’m hopeful and optimistic,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. For his part, President Obama described himself as “modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved” following a “good and constructive” meeting with the congressional leadership.

As expected, whether there will be a deal or not seems largely up to the Senate as McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid formally agreed to move forward with negotiations through the weekend to bring the Senate back into session Sunday. Any deal will likely prevent income taxes from increasing for most Americans while keeping unemployment benefits for around 2 million people and likely protect doctors from a cut in Medicare reimbursements, according to the Washington Post. But there is still no consensus on the threshold for income tax increases as well as the estate tax.

"The hour for immediate action is here," Obama said in a televised address (watch the statement after the jump). But even if leaders can’t reach a deal, Obama said Congress should allow an “up-or-down vote” on a basic package that would prevent tax cuts from increasing for Americans making less than $250,000 a year and extend unemployment benefits, reports the Hill.

Advertisement

“I believe such proposals could pass both houses with a bipartisan majority as long as both leaders will allow it to come to a vote,” Obama said. “If members want to vote no, they can.” In an effort to keep pressure on lawmakers, Obama will discuss the latest on the “fiscal cliff” during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, reports Reuters.

For all his talk of optimism though, the president also expressed lots of frustration that a deal still appears elusive days before a deadline that lawmakers have known about for more than a year, points out the New York Times. “The American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy,” Obama said.

But in what could be a sign that a deal might be possible, “for the first time in weeks, Reid’s tone turned more positive” as he talked of a potential compromise, points out Politico. Reid said members of both parties would undoubtedly object to some portion of a compromise agreement. “Whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect,” he said.

Investors seemed to be betting Friday that lawmakers won’t reach a deal as stocks dropped for a fifth straight day and Treasuries rose, reports Bloomberg. The S&P 500 lost 1.1 percent, its biggest drop since November, while the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.21 percent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.