Obama cuts vacation short while eying last minute deal
President Obama will return to Washington on Wednesday night, cutting his vacation short in order to work on a deal with the GOP to save the economy from going over the fiscal cliff.
It's a meaningless gesture. It's not like Obama is incommunicado in Hawaii. If he wanted to talk to Boehner or any other Republican, the Signals Corps could connect him in seconds.
This is just drama for the masses who will now be told what to think when it comes to assigning blame for what looks like an inevitable cliff dive.
The White House said Tuesday that the president would leave Wednesday night. His family, however, will stay behind in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, both chambers of Congress will come back from their holiday hiatus on Thursday and return to work. While there are growing signs that some members of both parties are prepared to accept a deal that raises taxes on people at the highest income levels, there is considerable distance between Republicans and Democrats and no guarantee that an agreement could pass.
The president and Congress left Washington late last week after House Republicans rejected a plan that would have left tax rates in place for all but those with incomes above $1 million.
Mr. Obama has since called for a less ambitious approach to avoid the "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, when a series of automatic budget cuts and tax increases will go into effect if Congress and the White House cannot come up with another course of action.
The White House has been seeking a resolution through talks with Senate Democrats, who control the chamber and have gained the tacit support of some Republican colleagues.
But the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has given no indication that his members would not seek to block a deal that includes tax increases.
The main obstacle remains the Republican-led House, where a bloc of conservatives has ruled out any tax increases whatsoever.
Expect some kind of White House "summit" with all the principles - Obama, Reid, McConnell, Pelosi, Boehner - by Friday. They will come up with a "framework" which will sound very hopeful but that will eventually collapse and the finger pointing will begin.
I think at this point, they all know that a deal isn't possible this year. So whatever they do, it will be done for show.