Your Daily Jolt: Close to a fiscal cliff deal?

With Christmas one week from today, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner appear to be nearing a fiscal cliff deal. Some details from the Associated Press:

[Obama offered] to drop his long-held insistence that taxes rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. He is now offering a new threshold of $400,000 and lowering his 10-year tax revenue goals from the $1.6 trillion he had argued for a few weeks ago.Obama’s move follows concessions by Boehner on higher tax rates for the wealthy.

In the new proposal, Obama abandoned his demand for permanent borrowing authority. Instead, he is now asking for a new debt limit that would last two years, putting its renewal beyond the politics of a 2014 midterm election.

And in a move sure to create heartburn among some congressional Democrats, Obama is proposing lower cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, employing an inflation index that would have far-reaching consequences, including pushing more people into higher income tax brackets.

Those changes, as well as Obama’s decision not to seek an extension of a temporary payroll tax cut, would force higher tax payments on the middle class, a wide swath of the population that Obama has repeatedly said he wanted to protect from tax increases.

As public posturing has given way to pragmatism, both sides still seem willing to lock in on a substantial agreement rather than just putting off a fiscal day of reckoning.

Boehner updates his caucus on negotiations this morning, and the rank-and-file reaction will be important to watch. Buzzfeed maps out two scenarios on a way forward.

Republican aides said the next 24 hours will be “critical” to the direction of talks to avert the nation’s looming austerity crisis, determining whether Boehner and Obama will reach a grand bargain or punt on most decisions until next year.

The latter option, which would require a simple extension of current law, could be cobbled together quickly and agreed to as late as Christmas Eve with enough time to approve it before Christmas. White House aides have refused to set a timeline on the negotiations.

But a sweeping compromise would require more time before a vote: Congressional leaders would need to craft a denser piece of legislation, and securing the votes to pass a major compromise would be a more intensive process. Such a package would also include the types of details, such as a tax hikes, that would be unpalatable to some Republicans and could carve fault lines within the conference.

And the Washington Post reports this morning that Boehner is proposing holding a “Plan B” vote on raising taxes on only income over $1 million.

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Speaking of tax hikes, Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss has been trying hard to avoid the label of a tax-hiker lately. On Monday he reiterated his desire to think beyond how much revenue a cap in deductions would bring and what would violate the Grover Norquist pledge. He teamed up with Lawrenceville Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall to ask for an estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation on how much revenue the Fair Tax — a 23 percent national sales tax that replaces rest of the tax code — would bring in.

From the letter: “Americans have long been calling for fundamental tax reform and it appears that Congress is finally poised to address the issue in a comprehensive fashion.”

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If you have not read Michelle Shaw’s excellent obit of Jesse Hill Jr. in today’s AJC, you should:

Jesse Hill Jr. in 1980 (AJC file)

Jesse Hill Jr. in 1980 (AJC file)

In a period of historic ferment over civil rights and the changing dynamics of Atlanta, Hill showed uncommon leadership. He helped finance and advise civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; served as confidant to the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson; and tackled assignments as diverse as the launch of MARTA and the integration of the Atlanta public schools and the University of Georgia. He played an especially important role in forging understanding and alliances between local black and white leaders.

More than one Atlanta mover, shaker or news reporter awakened to a 6 a.m. phone call and the greeting, “This is Jesse Hill. … I was just thinking about something ….” Before the bleary-eyed person could clear his head and become indignant, Hill would have him wading through some big issue of the day.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, had this to say about Hill in a release:

During the past 50 years, very little progress has been made in Atlanta without the involvement of Jesse Hill. He was a very successful business man, and he used his position as the CEO of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company to get things done, not just to position himself, but to advance the causes of equality, social justice, and humane business practice for all of the people of the city.  He envisioned Atlanta as a cornerstone in the South of a transformed and renewed America.  And he did more than dream, but he worked to make that vision a reality.

***

The U.S. Senate saw some historic turnover Monday. First South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to the seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. Scott will be the only black senator currently in the chamber and the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

Later Monday U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, died at 88. The Appropriations Chairman had represented Hawaii in Congress since it became a state. Roll Call reported that Inouye asked for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to replace him.

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

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9 comments Add your comment

Retired Soldier

December 18th, 2012
10:32 am

Bad deal for three, maybe four reasons. To much increase in revenue. To small cuts, cuts should be 4-1 over revenue increases. Taking the debt ceiling out of play ensures no future cuts. The fourth possible reason is what happened to the new “stimulus” Obama wanted, is it still there?

Veteran Observer

December 18th, 2012
11:10 am

Sad to see Jesse Hill pass away, a positive force in Atlanta for many years. Congressman Lewis’s comments are sadder in that his time in Congress could have been so much more productive if he had worked hard to bridge the racial gap like Mr Hill, instead of whining and carrying on like a racist ten year old all the time! What a waste of a leadership opportunity and elected career! It’s too late for him but hopefully the next congressman from the district will follow Mr Hill’s example and not Mr Lewis’s! Are you listening Mayor Reed?

WillRoy

December 18th, 2012
11:45 am

The “deal” offered by the President does nothing to reduct the trillion dollar deficits each year for as far out as the eye can see. The American public apparently is so economically ignorant that they think we can continue to borrow a trillion dollars each year with impunity. If they had any sense of urgency, they would demand that the pols in D.C. begin to live within their means. But we go merrily along thinking we are invincible and immune to the problems we see in Spain, Greece, Italy, etc. The time will come, and probably shortly, that we will be required to face up to the profligate spending and by then it will be too late to right the ship. I shudder to think what this country will face financially within the next ten years because we do not have people representing us in Washington who have the courage to face this fiscal crisis and make the hard choices to begin digging our way out of the mess they have created. The old adage about stop digging when one finds himself in a hole apparently never enters the mind of our political class we blindly continue to elect to represent us.

Just Saying..

December 18th, 2012
12:07 pm

Jim, I don’t understand the Plan B idea. Is it a DOA thought to appease the hard right for a minute, or is it Boehner unsure of his future?

Kris

December 18th, 2012
12:58 pm

My plan b…This boehner head CLOWN need s to go he and his clown posse has held America hostage, trashed the economy cause untold suffering to the American people. Please President Obama stand your ground.

Bonehead needs to GO!

The Maestro

December 18th, 2012
1:17 pm

“The American public apparently is so economically ignorant that they think we can continue to borrow a trillion dollars each year with impunity.”

Yes, this is painfully obvious. Use Kris,above, as an example. She wants Boehner out because he might actually force dialogue regarding spending reductions and won’t allow Obama to continue filling the gravy of deadbeat democrats.

David Puddy

December 18th, 2012
1:21 pm

The president needs to win this battle so more money can be given out to people who need it. As long as democrats are in control folks like me who choose to stay out of the workforce can get benefits and entitlements. Rich folk need to pay their fair share so those less fortunate don’t have to be accountable for anything.

SoWhat

December 18th, 2012
1:51 pm

Well Mr. Puddy, at least you tell the truth…………………………………….

SoWhat

December 18th, 2012
1:52 pm

Well Mr. Puddy, at least you tell the truth…………………………………….We might just nominate you for the Nobel Truth Prize!