Fiscal cliff talks appear on verge of impasse

December 12, 2012

Progress has not been made with the fiscal cliff negotiations, The Post’s Ed O’Keefe, Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane report:

Talks to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” appeared on the verge of an impasse Wednesday morning after late-night attempts to prevent negotiations from breaking down yielded no significant progress.

President Obama’s chief negotiator, Rob Nabors, rushed to the Capitol late Tuesday to meet with top aides to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) hours after a phone call between the two leaders that Boehner said left the two sides far apart.

“The president and I had a deliberate call yesterday, and we spoke honestly and openly about the differences that we face,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday morning. “But the president’s calling for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue. That cannot pass the House or the Senate.”

Boehner’s characterization of the call was less positive than the way he had described his face-to-face meeting with Obama on Sunday at the White House. On Tuesday, Boehner described that meeting as “cordial.”

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Despite the differences, Boehner remained hopeful on Wednesday. “I was born with the glass half full,” he said. “I remain the most optimistic person in this town, but we’ve got some serious differences.”

As the fiscal cliff deadline nears, entrepreneurs and investors have been pushing lawmakers for a lasting deal, The Post’s J.D. Harrison reports :

Small business owners and their lobbying groups have sent letter after letter to lawmakers in recent months, hoping to inject their voices into the fiscal cliff negotiations and swing the tide on disputes over higher tax rates and cuts to entitlement programs.

But for start-up founders, the ones behind the high-growth firms responsible for most of the nation’s new jobs, the message to Congress is far less muddied with detailed policy requests.

“Please, just do something.”

Julie Weeks, president of female entrepreneurship group Womenable, made that plea to lawmakers during a recent hearing before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and it sums up the emerging consensus from start-up founders and investors, who are far more concerned with whether lawmakers will actually reach a fiscal cliff deal than they are with the particulars of any agreement.

“I think the uncertainty over what is happening here in Washington is the most critical element,” Weeks told members of Congress. “The churning and the lack of activity are causing more grief and lack of growth than putting a solution out there that not everybody agrees with.”

The fiscal cliff came up during a news conference Wednesday held by the Federal Reserve. The central bank’s chairman “warned of serious ramifications for the economy” if the nation went over the cliff, The Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb reports :

“If the economy actually went off the fiscal cliff . . . that would have averse affects on the unemployment rate,” Bernanke said. Calling the “fiscal cliff” — words that he coined — “a sensible term,” Bernanke said: “I don’t buy the idea that a short-term descent off the fiscal cliff would be not costly. I think it would be costly, and I think we’re seeing those costs.” He cited volatile markets and low figures on consumer sentiment and business investment.

The resolution, Bernanke said, is in the hands of the nation’s leaders, not the Fed. “I don’t think the Federal Reserve has the tools to upset that event,” he said. “The most helpful thing that Congress and administration can do at this point . . . is to find a solution and avoid derailing the recovery,” he said, adding later that he believes Congress will come up with a way to avoid that economic shock.

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