Fiscal cliff update Nov. 28

Update 2:15 p.m. ET: Former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will meet Thursday with President Barack Obama over lunch.  It will no doubt be an occasion for the president to engage his onetime adversary’s ideas.  We will see what the result is later, since the event is closed to the press.

34 days and counting to the impending and ominously looming fiscal cliff. Despite the shared grins and Kodak moments, it seems that lawmakers are actually grimacing as both sides of the aisle try to come to an amicable agreement over taxes and automatic spending cuts.  As one senior House Republican aide told National Journal, “I think we are still trying to come together on something to present to the leaders and build around a framework that we can then fill in the details on.”

As it was in the 2011 debt battle, both Congress and the White House have seemingly come to a halt with regards to actual specifics.  It always tends to boil down to the framework around which lawmakers can then later fill in the gritty — and sometimes ugly — details of a fiscal package.

Grover Norquist — the conservative firebrand and president of Americans for Tax Reform — is calling out several Republican members of Congress for backing out of ATR’s no-tax pledge. Senior Reporter Neil W. McCabe of Human Events got an exclusive with Norquist, who says the likes of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), “should be embarrassed.”

Today, Wednesday, President Barack Obama speaks about middle-class Americans and the impact a tax increase would have on them and their family budgets; 11:35 a.m. EST.

Some of the important reads that Congressional leaders have no doubt taken a look at:

Washington Post: Obama public relations effort aims to avoid ???fiscal cliff???
The White House signaled Tuesday that it will try to marshal the momentum from President Obama???s reelection triumph into another victory at the negotiating table, launching a full-fledged public relations effort to avoid a ???fiscal cliff??? that could jolt the nation back toward recession. Administration officials said Obama will hit the road this week for a campaign-style series of events with ordinary Americans, including a visit to a toy manufacturer in suburban Philadelphia on Friday.

National Journal: Business Groups Seek Reconciliation with Obama
President Obama???s meeting Wednesday with business leaders, his second such get-together since Election Day, is a sure sign he is intent on repairing a troubled relationship known more for its conflict than partnership during his first term. But when the private-sector tycoons gather in the White House, they???ll feel just as much pressure to make things right.  Only a month ago, many in the business community were openly trying to defeat the president.

The Hill: Dems raise their asking price for a deal
Democrats are increasing their demands on what should be in a deficit deal, seeking to shield entitlement programs and insisting on raising the nation???s debt ceiling this year. In the wake of President Obama???s reelection and Democratic gains in Congress, party leaders are growing bolder as the Dec. 31 deadline for extending the Bush-era tax rates and stopping automatic spending cuts approaches.

Human Events: Norquist: Pledge wavering Republicans are Democratic pawns
The leader of Americans for Tax Reform told Human Events that Republicans should be ashamed to be part of the Democratic media campaign to raise taxes. ???They should be embarrassed,??? said Grover G. Norquist, the founder and president of the Washington-based ATR. The narrative was part of the Nov. 27 remarks on the Senate floor by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

New York Times: Now Touring, the Debt Duo, Simpson-Bowles
Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines.  Ladies and gentlemen, coming soon to your city or town (if they have not been there already, and maybe even if they have) are the latest odd couple of politics: the 67-year-old Democratic straight man, Erskine B. Bowles of Charlotte, N.C., and his corny 81-year-old, 6-foot-7 Republican sidekick, Alan K. Simpson of Cody, Wyo.

Politico: Tom Cole: Join with President Obama on quick deal
Republican Rep. Tom Cole urged colleagues in a private session Tuesday to vote to extend the Bush tax rates for all but the highest earners before the end of the year ??? and to battle over the rest later.  The Oklahoma Republican said in an interview with POLITICO that he believes such a vote would not violate Grover Norquist???s anti-tax pledge and that he???s not alone within Republican circles.

National Journal: Despite Happy Talk, Slow Progress in Fiscal Cliff Talks
???There is no progress on understanding how you would raise the money,??? says G. William Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former staff director for the Senate Budget Committee who still maintains close ties to the Hill. So far, the discussions have merely reiterated well-worn positions: moves that Hoagland indicates that ???things are not looking good as they???re coming back this week. Hopefully, it???s the dark portion before the storm.???