MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama steps off Marine One on the South Lawn upon return to the White House on December 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama returned to Washington under pressure to forge a year-end deal with Republicans to avoid the tax hikes and spending cuts of the 'fiscal cliff.'
With only five days to go before ‘Cliffaggeddon,’ President Barack Obama cut his holiday short and flew back to the capitol to try to broker a deal. But Republicans and Democrats in congress seem to be as far apart as ever.
Last week, House speaker John Boehner handed the ball off to the Senate, admitting he didn’t have the GOP votes to pass his ‘Plan B’ proposal. Christmas came and went, with the Capitol deserted and no viable solution in sight. House members are still in their districts, waiting to be summoned back to D.C. for their input - but the call hasn’t come. What happens if and when we go over the cliff? Taxpayers face an increase across all income levels; the long-term unemployed will see an abrupt end to their federal unemployment benefits; spending cuts will kick in, putting federal programs, national defense and jobs on the chopping block.
Why are both sides willing to risk financial disaster? Who’s really holding up the negotiations? Can any middle ground be found here? Will agreement be reached before the Times Square ball drops on December 31st?
Tom McClintock, Republican Congressman representing California’s 4th District and a member of the House Committee on the Budget
Xavier Becerra, Democratic Congressman representing California's 34th District and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee