Well, the president did cut his trip to Hawaii short in order to address the calamity facing the United States economy as it stands ready to be pushed over the “fiscal cliff” by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives still on Christmas break, but, the president has called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to meet with him on Friday for what appears to be a last-ditch effort to resolve the crisis. This will be the first time that the four congressional leaders are meeting with the president since November 16.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor held a conference call with House Republicans telling them to be prepared for votes on Sunday night. But during that very conference call, Boehner again told the Republican caucus that is up to the Senate to act. As I suggested yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Boehner via a speech he made in the Senate, that the Senate has already acted and the House only needs to take “one vote,” to end the crisis. In his remarks before the Senate Reid also said: “Take the escape hatch we left you.”
Reid also challenged Boehner’s motives and said, “he seems to care more about keeping his speakership” than avoiding raising taxes and implementing mandated federal spending cuts that go into effect in only five days.
According to Democratic staffers the Majority Leader’s unrelenting criticism of congressional Republicans instead of working on moving a proposal was part of a calculated strategy. According to the assistants, Reid will not introduce his fiscal cliff bill unless McConnell agrees to either allow a simple majority vote or allow Senate Republicans who support the bill to vote yes, enabling the measure to pass with 60 or more votes.
McConnell has not given Reid these promises and so Reid won’t introduce his bill according to the aids. Most Democrats are of the opinion that Reid’s bill will be the final legislative solution and they don’t want to risk its passage by sending it to the floor without assurances from O’Connell that it will pass. In addition they don’t want to force Democrats to take a difficult vote on a bill that ultimately fails. Adding to the mess, Timothy Geithner Secretary of the Treasury sent a letter to the congressional leadership on Thursday saying that the debt limit will be reached sooner than anticipated and that to avoid defaulting on borrowing obligations the treasury will have to take” extraordinary measures.”