Is a deal near on fiscal cliff?

After conceding on taxes, entitlements, and the debt ceiling vote, Speaker John Boehner got some good news yesterday.

Looks like he won't have to hand Obama his shirt too.


President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner made significant progress Monday toward a fiscal cliff deal, as Obama's new offer on tax rates moved the two sides closer to an agreement.

But questions remained over whether Boehner could sell the key points to Republicans at a pivotal meeting Tuesday. The progress is fragile, and the next 24 hours are critical as lawmakers from both parties and interest groups on all sides weigh in.

Senior Republican aides described the latest offer as a positive step but said the speaker has rejected the president's counteroffer as "unbalanced."

The president's $2.4 trillion proposal marks the first time that he has given ground on income tax rates. He would raise rates on household income above $400,000 - up from $250,000 - as part of a plan delivered Monday to Boehner, according to a source familiar with the talks.

Obama made another important move in Boehner's direction by addressing the speaker's demand for an equal amount of spending cuts to new revenue - a concession that could prove instrumental in reaching a final deal, although the speaker's aides are disputing the White House claim of a dollar-for-dollar match.

Obama proposed $1.2 trillion in new revenue, down from his previous offer of $1.4 trillion. And he offered $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, including $400 billion in entitlement savings - an increase of $50 billion.


"Any movement away from the unrealistic offers the President has made previously is a step in the right direction, but a proposal that includes $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $930 billion in spending cuts cannot be considered balanced," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. "We hope to continue discussions with the President so we can reach an agreement that is truly balanced and begins to solve our spending problem."

Republican aides said the total savings are actually lower than $930 billion because Obama is seeking $50 billion in new infrastructure spending and $30 billion for extending unemployment benefits.

As it stands now, Boehner may get a bare majority of his caucus to vote for this one sided deal. I would guess that up to 100 GOP House members are ready and willing to reject it. The question then becomes, will the Christmas spirit strike the Democrats and allow them to bail Boehner out by a near unanimus vote in favor of the deal?

There will be some grumbling by the far left over the fact that Obama has put entitlements on the table -- even though the amount he's dangling is laughable given the severity of the crisis. But I suspect that all but a handful of Democrats would support the deal thus putting it over the top in the House.

To be somewhat fair to Boehner, he has no leverage at all now, having given in on the debt ceiling vote. And there are still some poison pills in Obama's proposal -- the "stimulus" money for one -- that would be a deal breaker.

If a deal is going to go down, it will now be sooner rather than later. The momentum is now all in favor of getting something done - even if it's a rancid deal for the GOP.

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