As another week comes to end without a deal to resolve the fiscal cliff, the bipartisan bickering continues on Capitol Hill.
"This isn't a progress report because there's no progress to report," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Friday. "The White House has wasted another week."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of course, placed the blame with the GOP. "The president has given the Republicans flexibility to come up with a credible, specific plan," she said. "What they offered in return was an empty letter lacking in specifics. It was a further manifestation of the lack of agreement in the Republican caucus with division on the middle-income tax cut and no agreement on specifics in their plan."
The public sniping and lack of apparent progress toward a deal is a sign of "how broken our government has become and how polarized," says Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former Federal Reserve vice chair. "All of the bipartisan groups that have considered this have come to same conclusion…and we need a compromise."
A member of the Simpson-Bowles commission and co-chair of her own debt reform commission, Rivlin has been at the center of some of the most notable discussions over how to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff. Rivlin believes a deal is "quite likely" before the end of the year. Failing to reach an agreement would have implications beyond the very real macro-economic impact, says the former director of both OMB and CBO.
"It's a market risk," Rivlin says. "A risk of looking ridiculous, like a country that can't manage to avoid an artificial barrier…that's not a situation we want to advertise to the rest of the world."