All together now…here we go again!
According to a Congressional aide speaking with anonymity Sunday, there was a “major setback” in the talks to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff that has held the nation’s attention for months.
Apparently, Republicans remain defiant and detached from what is an overwhelming public opinion against putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block without prudent and careful examination. But they demanded to have it in the bill now and in exchange, they will approve the emergency unemployment benefit extensions and other requests by the president.
It is an astounding act of stubborn disregard for down-trodden Americans and the elderly. Republicans seem delusional about how their actions to protect the rich will be perceived by the general public. If they growl long enough and repeat the same “it’s the president’s fault” mantra, they evidently think people will fall for their finger pointing and shiny-object routine.
But the GOP has ignored polls that show Americans will blame them if they continue to block progress on the deficit and refuse to allow tax rate increases on millionaires and billionaires. They don’t give average folks credit for having the brains of a duck. Instead they count on them to be gullible enough to believe their trash-talk against the president.
Harry Reid said he was “shocked and disappointed” by the new GOP demand and called it “poison pill,” which is viewed as a serious setback in negotiations. Reid left the talks after saying he had nothing left to offer, but Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden remained in discussions.
Earlier President Obama told David Gregory on Meet the Press that if fiscal talks fail, he will ask Democrats to bring a bill to the Senate floor for a vote…a move that Republicans have resisted. But critics agree the American people are entitled to know how their elected leaders stand on expecting the rich to pay a little more in taxes, while keeping the rates the same on everyone else.
“We’re not going to have any Social Security cuts at this stage, that just doesn’t seem appropriate,” Reid was quoted in The Hill. “We’re open to discussion about entitlement reforms but we’re going to have to take it in a different direction. The present status will not work.”
Reid was surprised by the development, because it was understood that entitlement reform would be part of a larger package, rather than the smaller deal they were trying to cobble together Sunday to get things past that dangerous cliff.
Meanwhile, Republicans back-peddled on the Social Security demands late Sunday. Several Republicans, including John McCain, said they didn't expect Harry Reid to accept the deal on Social Security, so why did they waste time in the twilight hours to bother throwing a wrench into the works?
McConnell said he would talk to his caucus after he had time to digest what he and the vice president discussed.
Unless Biden and McConnell can come up with an agreement that will pass the Senate and the House, the up or down vote Obama talked about Sunday morning may very well happen, because Congressional aides feel they are further away from an accord than they were 24 hours ago.
Subject to change, of course, unless Republicans stop doing their tap-dance and get down to business.
Jean Williams, PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.
PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources