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  • baxterjames120 baxterjames120 Dec 30, 2012 1:44 PM Flag

    Major Setback in Senate! Details

    Negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have suffered a “major setback” after Republicans demanded the inclusion of new method for calculating entitlement benefits as part of the fiscal cliff package, according to Democratic sources.

    The provision, known as “chained CPI,” is opposed by many progressives because it would result in lower payments for Social Security beneficiaries.

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    (Also on POLITICO: Why they want to go over the cliff)

    Democrats did not want to include this as part of the current, scaled-down fiscal cliff talks. But Republicans are insisting it be in the new package.

    Democrats are objecting, saying they have given ground on other issues, including raising the threshold for new taxes to “around $400,000” annually, as well as showing flexibility on estate taxes, sources said.

    If no deal is reached - and that is where things stand at the moment - Reid will push a proposal to raise taxes for those families making over $250,000 in income.

    (PHOTOS: 11 side effects of going over the cliff)

    Reid and McConnell have in these past couple days focused on a smaller-scale deal to prevent most income taxes from rising, stop the alternative minimum tax from hitting millions of middle-income earners and head off steep cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. Democrats are also pushing hard to extend jobless benefits for some two million people, while McConnell wants to block a significant expansion of the estate tax.

    (Also on POLITICO: Lawmakers fear voter cliff backlash)

    Gone are hopes for a sweeping deal: The proposals under consideration would do little to control the skyrocketing deficit. And it’s exceedingly unlikely that a proposal would roll back the $109 billion in domestic and defense spending cuts set to take effect in 2013. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told senators he expects the defense cuts — which he has long warned would devastate the military — will begin to take effect in the new year.

    That leaves the Bush-era tax cuts. Backed by President Barack Obama, Reid has insisted that the lower rates should be allowed to lapse for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 a year, though the president has floated a $400,000 cutoff as a compromise. McConnell has signaled he’d cut a deal that includes some tax hikes, but he almost certainly won’t be party to a deal that would be rejected by the Republican-controlled House.




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