Cliff looms: Kicking the Can, Washington-style

When it comes to the nation's budget challenges, congressional leaders are fond of saying dismissively they don't want to kick the can down the road.
Associated Press
Dec 27, 2012

But now, a deadline hard ahead, even derided half-measures are uncertain as President Barack Obama and lawmakers struggle to avert across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that comprise an economy-threatening fiscal cliff.

Congressional officials said Wednesday they knew of no significant strides toward a compromise over a long Christmas weekend, and no negotiations have been set.

After conferring on a conference call, House Republican leaders said they remain ready for talks, urged the Senate to consider a House-passed bill that extends all existing tax cuts, but gave no hint they intend to call lawmakers back into session unless the Senate first passes legislation.

"The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending," the leadership said in a statement.

A short while later Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. countered that the House leadership should allow action on a Senate-passed bill that lets income tax rates rise only on incomes above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. The measure could "pass tomorrow" if put to a vote, he said.

The Senate is due in session Thursday, although the immediate agenda includes legislation setting the rules for government surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists abroad, including Americans, as well as a measure providing $60 billion for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Obama decided to cut short his Hawaii vacation for an overnight flight expected to get him back to the White House on Thursday.

Apart from the cliff, other financial challenges loom for divided government, where political brinkmanship has become the norm. The Treasury disclosed during the day it would take accounting measures to avoid reaching the government's borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion by year's end. The changes will provide about two months of additional leeway.

Separately, spending authority for much of the government will expire on March 27, 2013.

After weeks of negotiations, the president urged lawmakers late last week to scale back their ambitions for avoiding the fiscal cliff and send him legislation preventing tax cuts on all but the highest-earning Americans and extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. Longer, term, he said he still supports deficit cuts that were key to the earlier talks.

"Everybody's got to give a little bit in a sensible way," he said at the White House.

The House has no plans to convene, following last week's rebellion in which conservatives torpedoed Speaker John Boehner's legislation to prevent scheduled tax increases on most, while letting them take effect on million-dollar wage earners.

"How we get there, God only knows," the Ohio Republican said of efforts to protect the economy — and taxpayers — from the tax increases and spending cuts.

"Now is the time to show leadership, not kick the can down the road," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said a little over a week ago after Boehner announced he would shift his own focus from bipartisan talks to the approach that eventually was torpedoed by his own rank and file.

It's a phrase that political leaders use when they want to suggest others want to avoid tackling major problems, and one that Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and even Obama as well as Reid have used.

"We have a spending problem. We have to address it, And we're not going to address it by kicking the can down the road," the speaker said at a news conference late last week when he was asked about setting a vote on a plan that Democrats find acceptable.

Cantor recently used the same approach in challenging Obama to agree to savings from Medicare and other benefit programs. "This has to be a part of this agreement or else we just continue to dig the hole deeper, asking folks to allow us to kick the can down the road further and that we don't want to do," he said on Nov. 28.

In fact, it's a phrase that has been in use for over a year as Obama and Republicans jockey for position on pocketbook issues.

In July 2011, when he was struggling with Republicans over the threat of a first-ever government default, Obama said he had "heard reports that there may be some in Congress who want to do just enough to make sure that America avoids defaulting on our debt in the short term. But then wants to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem, our deficit."

A few months later, an extension of a payroll tax cut was the issue, and Boehner was insisting on a year-long renewal rather than the temporary plan that passed the Senate with votes from lawmakers in both parties.

"How can you do tax policy for two months?" he asked on Dec. 18, 2011. "I believe that two months is just kicking the can down the road.

"The American people are tired of that."

At issue now is series of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to kick in with the new year that economists caution could send the economy into a recession.




Let them go over the cliff and fix the middle class american tax problem after it goes over. Then the "Big income" earners can cry at their own leisure. I really do not care anymore.

These dumb jerks have hammered this to death. As far as I am concerned, let the loop holes close around the wealthest necks and strangle them. These idiots can strangle themselves to death with their stall tactics all they want so they don't look like the bad guys. Then the President can come back and do what he said he would do to begin with.....cut taxes on the middle Americans and small business and ram it home. I believe he will.

He will accept nothing less and veto anything that does not state that. It will be too late for the big leaguers out there by that time anyway. The loop holes will be gone. Too bad so sad. It sucks to be them.

As for anything else, who cares. The debt spending limits might be somewhat limited, but this arguing will get stopped in a hurry.

What many do not realize is that Obama doesn't care. He has nothing to lose this time around. He can't run again so what does he have to lose? NOTHING. He isn't running again so the intimidation factor with him is gone. His party can't stop him either. So the republicans might as well give up the hard line tactics and just try to get along. They cannot intimidate this guy any more. He has nothing to lose That makes him a very dangerous man with a line item veto.

Get it together and start working together for the sake of this country before you put us all in the can you think you are kicking. In reality, you aren't kicking anything but your own collective butts. Stop kicking mine along with it. I want results, not an arse kicking.

Dr. Information

Lol. More ranting from mama who knows just about as much about politics as she does about semi auto guns.

Who do you think is going to get hurt by going over the fiscal cliff the worse? The poor, the middle class or the wealthy? Hint Hint....its not the wealthy.

You do realize that MOST middle class families pay nothing or next to nothing in taxes correct.

Facts are Obama doesn't know how to run a business, yet alone a lemonade stand. Where and when has Pelosi and Reid and Obama worked with the other side? They haven't, its been their way or the highway. More spending, more taxes to create more revenue so they can spend more.

You basically contradict yourself with every word you type. One second you say Obama has nothing to lose so the Republicans should just lay down and get out of his way. The next second you say they all need to work together. Which is it lady?

Republicans have conceded on taxes to a point, conceded on loop holes and closing them, agreed to even extend unemployment but they want some cuts in return.......Obamas way or the highway, no cuts. And this is a president?

He's nothing more than an clown, a celeb wanna be. Michelle's more worried about her next vacation and Obama's more worried about his next fundraiser with some star. Its been a comical joke for the last 4 years and the joke is about to be on everyone.....glad you like what you have gotten.


I understand more than you think. The republicans have hardly been cooperative and you give far too much credit to them but that is expected from a Republican like yourself.

Would you be bellyaching as much if things were reversed and Romney was President and the congress was Democratic and this situation reversed? You would expect the people in the House and Senate to be far more cooperative for him. I know you would. But since he isn't the President, as much as you would love it to be so, you think the House and Senate should be calling ALL the shots and the President should lay down and let them do all the leading. NO WAY.

The Republicans have caused this country problems since Bush was in office. We would not be in this situation had it not been for him in the first place. I know EXACTLY who will be in trouble if we go over this cliff...the middle class and the always. The rich, however..will loose their loopholes and have to again pay their taxes. Thank God for that. The Bush tax cuts for them will expire at last. And that is what the Republicans do not want. Too bad.

Sure, they also want to stop the spending, but some of it can't be cut. Not from Medicare, Medicaid and funding such as that. It NEVER should have come to that piont. The Republicans should NEVER want to cut from that. I am all for getting rid of Obamacare. I never did like it. But not the rest....Medicare, Social Security and the like are not a point of discussion. To me they are hands off.

You hard line republicans want to cut something....stop the war. Bring the troops home and start definding our own borders.

Cut Obamacare completely and stop sending foreign aide to anyone.

Now, don't ever tell me again that I don't understand politics. I understand it a lot better than you will ever imagine. You don't hold a corner on the market, kiddo. You don't know WHAT I know or how much. So you can just back up.

I may be a democrat or a republican for all you know. Or maybe you don't know as much as you think you do. Frankly, I do not care either way.

Dr. Information

Just like assault rifles shoot faster than other semi auto rifles that you so loudly expressed.

If you don't reform Medicare it, along with SS will suck this country dry. But, I don't expect you to realize that. You probably think SS is retirement huh?

I was wondering when Bush would be brought up, so nothing new on that front.

Even if we stop sending foreign aid, and do away with Obamacare, tax the so called rich (bogus term by Obama and his figures), close loop won't generate enough to fix our debt problem. Those things are fractions of the problem. They do not all add up for a fix and every banker and attorney and accountant and even the CBO knows this.


There is no Federal line item veto.


There is an amended Line item veto act of 2009 (Republican bill) which allows the President to remove earmarks and send any and all bills BACK to the senate and house for further review and vote, therefore actually removing any special earmarks that the Senate and House may actually want and reducing spending. They must then revise that bill to include other items and not allow the earmarks to be included in that bill which was sent back and must, within 10 days, pass or reject the bill on what is called the "fast track' vote. (constitution law oncline_)


"On June 25, 1998, the Supreme Court deemed that 'there is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend or to repeal statutes.'"

"Last February, in a rare moment of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives voted to give President Obama that power. Like most such attempts, however, the attempt was unsuccessful: The Senate never even brought it up for a vote."


@contego...Yes, but in 2009, there was a vote to allow the president to remove "earmarks" and it is still in place. That is something the Republicans now want to remove from his rights and it is not something he is willing to give up...part of the argument. If he gives that up, they can force things through he may not want in certain bills. You might want to go read that under the wikipedia site I read it under or under the constitutional laws site online.

Also, you might want to take a look at the problems under the "fiscal cliff problems" online as well. All of those list the problems at hand.

Just to give you an idea of the sites I have been reading.


OK - it's getting pretty deep in here.

It's not completely clear what "line item veto" Wiremama is talking about - is it H.R. 1294, which appears to have died in committee? If that is so, then she's citing a law that ain't.

And Contango seems to dispute this 2009 proposal with a 1997 news article about a much different proposal.

Can we discuss actual, relevant facts? Because right now we're just throwing horsehockey around.


Click on the link provided.


He is talking line item veto and I am talking earmarks. I don't think its the same thing. He is talking about the removal of the line item veto from the presidency in 1998 and I am talking about the earmark removal of all bills allowed by the president and the sending it back to the house to be voted on by them within 10 days.....given to the President in 2009

That isn't Horsehockey...look it up like I did and read it.


wiredmama222 wrote:

"That makes him (Obama) a very dangerous man with a line item veto."

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." - Pres. Clinton

The line item veto allowed for the Executive removal of earmarks, you're merely referring to a procedural difference.

It's not that Mr. Obama doesn't like "pork," it’s just that he likes that which is politically favorable to him and his cronies.


so, the prez says that we must push this through. he has come back but his wife and kids remain in hawaii. the cost to operate air force 1 is just short of $182,000 per hour. hawaii to dc is a 10 hour flight which equates to $3.6 mil per round trip! if prezo is so concerned about the taxpayers why didn't he have his family come home with him? how are they getting home? will air force 1 fly back to hawaii to get them? wouldn't it be considerably cheaper to fly them back commercial first class? minimum flight cost for this vacation is $5.4 million!!

thank you mr prez for being so frugal with my tax dollars!!


Don't get your underwear in a bunch.
He just wanted to go home to his birthplace for a while.
Like Bush and Chaney never spent any tax payer money except only on Iraq?
Don't think so.

"But no matter how much time a president actually spends away from the official residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Knoller says that the commander in chief is never really off the clock. "I have long held the view that a US president is never really on vacation," Knoller told in an e-mail. "The job – and its awesome powers and responsibilities – is his wherever he is and whatever he’s doing."


I've been to Crawford, TX and Hawaii. The latter was much nicer.

Why isn't the home in Chicago's Hyde Park that the convicted criminal Tony Rezko helped the Obamas to buy a sufficient place for a vaca?

Lots to do on Michigan Ave. and Watertower Place. IL's broke, they could "really" use the $.

The Big Dog's back

Work hard and maybe someday you could be President.


AMEN....nice try, but you cannot reason with a Republican group. They can't see it. They only see what they want to see and they cannot see right now. No wonder the Republican party is having so much trouble. They don't listen and they don't hear. How sad. They better start before the next elections come up...which is a mere four years from now, or they will all lose again. The rest of the country got it, too bad the Republican party didn't. I should think they would start learning pretty soon. This hard line tactic isn't cutting it.


I agree, mikel. Typical case of "do as I say, not as I do". He doesn't give a rat's behind about you and me. According to him, we should all be willing to sacrifice for the common good but don't ask him or his family to do so. They think they've captured the goose that lays the golden egg and by golly they are going to milk it for all they can. He's an egomaniac who doesn't know the meaning of the word compromise and hasn't worked with members of congress even when he was a member of congress.


I believe the President even said that he agreed that taxes should go up on the wealthy, "like him" and that the middle class and poor should not have to suffer the tax increase nor should businesses. Nor should the unempolyment tax stop. He gave them cuts to the budget including much from the military budget. But the hardline Republicans just won't budge because of taxing the rich and it wasn't enough cuts to the budget to suit them. You can bet taxing the rich is the biggest of the problems. They wanted permanent tax cuts for the rich three weeks ago.

So I doubt highly it is the President who doesn't care about the little guy. Try blaming where blame is due. Try the Republican led House and the Senate for this one. When we fall off the cliff they get strangled with their own noose....and we go right along with them.


@ wiredmama222:

To paraphrase "someone": The U.S. cannot continue to provide European style benefits with American style taxes.

State, Federal and local taxes need to rise on EVERYONE or benefits will need to be curtailed - no magic.


(hasn't worked with members of congress)

He has never worked other than one year outside of public service. We all know how well the gov handles OUR finances!


@mikel....all presidents have had the use of Air Force 1 and have used them for many vacations, trips and different reasons, including trips to different locals during their tenure in office. Some of them have not been disclosed to the American Public, some of them have.

So I wouldn't get too upset about Obama coming back early while the family stays on vacation.

He may go back if this obstinate Congress doesn't knuckle down and get to work pretty soon. He has nothing to loose so if they don't get to work and they let us go over the cliff, it will be their fault and not his. He certainly has tried to bend. But not the Republicans. They just don't want to cooperate in any way. So it seems if the hardliners want to let us go over, it will remain their fault in history.

What it costs for air force 1 to either take him back to Hawaii or bring the family back is pretty irrelevant at this point


i comprehend that all presidents have used this service. however, at these costs don't you think it would be prudent for the prez's entourage to make a few sacrifices? i don't have a problem with him going to hawaii as a family and coming back as a family. but, to leave them there and absorb that massive cost is crazy. of course, maybe you, don't think that $3.6 million plus is a lot of money but i do.

just wondering how much this trip is really costing the taxpayer! we know that flight costs alone top $5 million. now, throw in hotel and food for approximately 40-50 people and i think the total will cost upwards of $10-$12 million. is that "pretty irrelevant"?


I don't have a problem with Obama and his family going on vacation. But they could have returned with him. If not, let them pay for the separate trip out of their pocket instead of the taxpayers. I bet if he had to pay for it, he'd look at the cost differently. I'd think more of him if he used a little bit of common sense. I have to. So do you. Why shouldn't he?


Maybe they could vaca in Indonesia, the country of Mr. Obama's early years where he learned all those “American” values like thrift and hard work.

Face it; we have an imperial presidency. It's all about: "What's in it for me."




Watch 'em pull a rabbit outta the hat on 11 th hour.


good article to read. hopefully, all of the messiahs worshipers will read this and then grab their cheeks as he is going to do some dirty work on them! tsk tsk tsk


Don't forget about all that Hope and Change...

The Big Dog's back

Election is over dr. misinfo.