Those gearing up to oppose House Republicans’ “Plan B” budget solution received a welcome surprise last night, when Speaker Boehner announced that the plan would not come to the floor. The measure failed to garner enough Republican support to make even a viable statement.
But what does this mean for the fiscal cliff? Should the lemmings prepare? The President and Congress now have just over a week to strike a deal, and as of yet things aren’t looking good, at least for any hope of a grand bargain.
Reports now indicate that the White House will push for an interim measure that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts on income below $250,000, pause sequestration, and renew unemployment insurance benefits. This means a large number of tax provisions would expire, bringing in new revenue, and budget cuts would be left to another day.
A cynical mind might begin to wonder if this could signal the quiet death of sequestration cuts, given that at its outset the mechanism was meant to force Republican members of Congress into a deal on tax cuts. With the larger goal accomplished, the budget could gently slip back into its old routine, Republicans having dodged the defense budget bullet and Democrats having succeeded in raising taxes on the wealthy.
There’s still a chance for the two sides to come together after Christmas, and who knows, maybe the spirit of the season will take hold. But just days from the deadline, when any agreement will have to contend with what could be a tough fight in the House, the cliff is beginning to look more and more realistic.
Merry Christmas! Hope you’re not afraid of heights.