President Barack Obama delivered remarks from the White House on Monday afternoon on fiscal cliff negotiation progress in Congress, as Democratic and Republican leaders in the upper chamber appeared to iron out major issues pertaining to a fiscal cliff agreement:
As Obama prepared to deliver remarks about the “fiscal cliff” at the White House, negotiators for the administration and McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared to have nailed down many of the most critical tax issues, including a plan to let taxes rise on income over $450,000 a year for couples and $400,000 a year for individuals, according to people in both parties familiar with the talks.
According to a Senior GOP aide, however, Democrats are not happy with the details of the agreement.
The issue for the Democrats was the sequester. They don’t want to have to cut anything. The entitlements aren’t even being discussed because they are off the table… We are talking about the already agreed to sequester. The one trillion plus sequester–including military. To be more specific, the hang up is the first couple of months of those sequester cuts.
The Senior GOP aide says that the agreement was reached with the White House early this morning on the tax portion and the aide can confirm that Biden has been a partner in the negotiations. It can be confirmed that the outstanding issue at this point is that Democratic Senators are unwilling to budge on spending.
Vice President Joe Biden, for the third time, appears to have stepped in for the president in the area of negotiations. President Obama has not spoken to Senate Republican leadership in four years.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R – KY) and VP Biden negotiated the extension of the Bush tax rates in December of 2010. Biden and McConnell negotiated the debt limit deal last summer, and now Biden has swooped in last minute to negotiate with McConnell on a fiscal cliff agreement.
Apparently, shortly after President Obama returned from Hawaii to Washington, White House officials turned to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Mitch McConnell to handle the heavy negotiations. When a “major setback” in talks between Reid and McConnell occurred on Sunday afternoon, Biden and McConnell resumed talks thereafter.