More playground politics
By Jonathan Weisman, NYT
WASHINGTON — For all the growing angst over the state of negotiations to head off a fiscal crisis in January, the parties are farthest apart on a relatively small part of the overall deficit reduction program — the down payment.
President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, are in general agreement on the overarching issue: that the relevant Congressional committees must sit down next year and work out changes to the tax code and entitlement programs to save well more than $1 trillion over the next decade.
But before that work begins, both men want Congress to approve a first installment on deficit reduction that would replace the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that make up the “fiscal cliff,” while signaling Washington’s seriousness about getting its fiscal house in order. That is where the chasm lies in size and scope.
Mr. Obama says the down payment should be large, real and made up almost completely of tax increases on top incomes. He is putting such emphasis on the tax increases partly because he and Congressional leaders last year agreed on some spending cuts over the next decade but have yet to agree on any tax increases.