With only 18 days left until December 31, Congress and the White House is gridlocked on the question of the fiscal cliff. Platitudes and talking points heard a trillion times over have now fully substituted for specific policy discussion on Capitol Hill.
“Republicans have not identified five cents of revenue…. the only people in America who thinks the rich shouldn’t pay more money are the Republicans in this building,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today. But Reid gave no specifics on what a budget plan on the Democratic side looks like either.
“It’s clear the President is just not serious about cutting spending,” Boehner told reporters once again. But the Speaker identified no specific spending he would cut.
“We feel this White House has a tin ear with regard to the spending problem,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on the House floor.
Hoyer reminded Cantor of the increases in spending under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. That spending included two unpaid for wars begun under President Bush, a prerscription drug bill that was unpaid for and pushed through by a Republican controlled White House and Congress, and a tax cut for high income earners that added $4 trillion to the nation debt over ten years.
“Spending does not cause debt, what causes debt is not paying for the spending you make,” Hoyer told Cantor.
Meanwhile, members are beginning to notice the uselessness of a debate with no specifics as they fly in and out of Washington getting nothing done. Members in the House were told on Tuesday that they should make no plans near Christmas and that votes could happen on Christmas Eve and possibly in the days after Christmas.
The schedule in the House has become particularly comical. Over 400 members in the House flew in and then back out of Washington for a “work week” that lasted only 48 hours. Taxpayers are paying $70,000 to $100,000 per hour for what appears to be useless travel yielding no progress on the fiscal cliff dilemma.
The House is expected back in session on Monday, December 17 — the week before Christmas. On Monday, there will only be 13 days left until the fiscal cliff deadline.
What created the fiscal cliff crisis was Republican obstruction on raising the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. Legislation sponsored by Speaker Boehner mandated equal cuts on defense and social programs. And here we are.