America might well be counting on a lame-duck session of Congress to keep the economy from falling off a fiscal cliff.
Economists coined the term “fiscal cliff” to describe the impact of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire and drastic, automatic budget cuts to go into effect. It could happen if Congress fails to act. Those economists who buy into the fiscal cliff theory say the combination would send the economy back into recession.
President Obama, during a White House news conference, stated he would be willing to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but only for those making less than $250,000 a year. House Republicans have insisted that they be extended for all, claiming that any tax increase will harm the economy.
Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican, views the president’s statement as public posturing.
“At the end of the day, if he’s saying, ‘Look, I’ll be very happy if we can’t reach an agreement to just simply go home and call it good,’ he has a punishing impact on really everybody,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Johanns says all sides are making public statements, but none will negotiate in public. Johanns says the president certainly won’t engage in negotiations through a White House news conference. The president did give an indication he might be willing to consider other ways to raise revenue.
Congress has reassembled in Washington to face the same issues it refused to resolve prior to the elections. The lame-duck session will pause for Thanksgiving break next week, returning in December to wrap up business before the new Congress is sworn in next year.
Despite its lame-duck status, it seems ready to reach an agreement, according to Johanns.
“From what I have heard, you kind of read between the lines, people are willing, because of what we face at the end of the year, to try to come up with solutions,” Johanns says.
Adding to the burdens of the session will be questions surrounding whether CIA Director David Petraeus’ affair compromised national security and how the administration handled the September 11th attack on the United States compound in Benghazi, Libya.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]