'Fiscal cliff' meeting at White House: Will it be 'Lincoln' moment for Obama?
Many Senate Republicans say that with Congress deadlocked on averting the fiscal cliff, it is up to Obama to force a deal. The lesson from the movie 'Lincoln,' they say, is 'the president has to lead.'
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Until Friday, bipartisan negotiations over the fiscal cliff have mainly involved the president and House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio, who was forced to pull his fallback “Plan B” from a floor vote last week after protests in GOP ranks. Friday’s meeting will also include Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky, and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of California, along with Vice President Biden.Skip to next paragraph
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Until a call from the president on Wednesday, Senator McConnell says he had had no contact from any Democrat on the fiscal cliff since Thanksgiving. “The phone never rang, so here we are five days from the New Year and we might start talking,” he said in a floor speech on Thursday.
On the House side, Speaker Boehner, who faces a reelection for his post on Jan. 3, says the House has already passed legislation on May 10 and Aug. 1 to avert the entire fiscal cliff, so now the "Senate must act."
"Speaker Boehner will attend a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, where he will continue to stress that the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act," spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement on Thursday.
With no new offers from Republicans or Democrats on Capitol Hill, say many congressional analysts, it's up to a president who has little incentive to shoulder a burden that the congressional leaders themselves have failed to take up.
"It’s going to go over the fiscal cliff, because it seems to be in everybody’s interest politically to do so," says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., who is now interviewing senators on bipartisanship.
While Democrats are stronger in a new Congress, he says, "Boehner’s interest [is] to get past his election for speaker," meaning both sides benefit from extending negotiations beyond the deadline.
“The president's position is so strong,” he adds, “that from his position, it doesn't matter which side of Jan. 1. the effort is made."
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