Fiscal cliff update Dec. 28: Obama to speak at 5:45 pm

A mere three days stands between the nation and the fiscal cliff.  Ominous spending cuts and tax hikes lay on the other side of 2012 in the ever bleak looking 2013, but not to worry, Congressional leaders are meeting with the White House — again.

It is the refrain that never quite quits as Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plunge themselves into the lions’ den with President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps this time, a consensus on spending or tax rates will be reached. And, lest we forget, we are this close to the abyss not for lack of Republicans trying.  It is the GOP in both the House and Senate that have been waiting on the president’s and Democrats’ own initiative to put forward a plan.  Despite this, Republicans in Congress receive the unadulterated blame across the media for bringing the country this far with no compromise.

Quote of the day: Republicans aren’t about to write a blank check for anything the Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff.  – Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

As our leaders gather today — with Vice President Joe Biden — to discuss some manageable way to avert the fiscal cliff next Tuesday, stay on top of the latest with our updates below:

Human Events: Who benefits from going off the fiscal cliff?
In the immediate sense, Obama, of course.  That’s why he’s not genuinely negotiating to avoid the cliff, having proffered nothing for days. He has yet to put forth any meaningful spending reductions–relying instead on so-called cuts (merely cuts in the rate of growth, not actual cuts) that have already taken place.  No, Obama plans to milk a fall off the cliff for all it’s worth. He will blame Republicans for being concerned only with the “mega wealthy,” and say that it was their intransigence that caused the free fall.  He’ll say that in spite of the fact that the Republican leadership was poised to betray its base and agree to counterproductive tax increases in order to avert the cliff.

WSJ: Cliff-Top Lessons for the GOP
We still don’t know whether this nation will take a dive off the economic cliff. What we do know is that in recent weeks Republicans have been in their own political free fall. Why?  Ignore the conventional wisdom about the GOP’s current difficulties. This line holds that President Obama is in the position of strength, and that the Republicans’ refusal to acknowledge as much???its blind adherence to a rigid ideology on taxes???is the reason we are about to head off the cliff. So the White House says, and so the press repeats.  Certainly Republicans were dealt a tough political situation. Yet there are still two big lessons they can take away from this most recent round of failed debt talks???lessons that might aid them in the immediate future.

Fox News: Obama, Congressional Leaders Meeting is Last Hope for Deal
There are no signs that the United States will be saved from going over the so-called fiscal cliff, resulting in large tax hikes, but still Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama will meet Friday afternoon in an 11th-hour scramble in the hopes of a limited fiscal deal before the New Year.  The scheduled meeting, the first since Nov. 16, stands as a make-or-break moment for negotiations to avoid across-the-board tax increases and deep spending cuts.

Businessweek: Over the fiscal cliff: Soft or hard landing?
Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end “fiscal cliff” were still in disarray as lawmakers returned to the Capitol to confront the tax-and-spend crisis. A tone-setting quotation was Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s assertion that the House under Republican Speaker John Boehner had been “operating with a dictatorship.”  President Barack Obama flew back to Washington from Hawaii after telephoning congressional leaders from his Christmas vacation perch. Once back, he set up a meeting with leaders of both parties at the White House late Friday to make a fresh attempt to find a solution before Monday night’s deadline.

NY Daily News: Every American will face financial hell if the nation hurtles over the fiscal cliff
In just five days, governed by uncompromising partisans, the United States may well hurtle over the fiscal cliff and into an economic abyss of higher taxes for virtually all working Americans ??? including you, if you earn a paycheck.  At this late date, there is only a minuscule chance that President Obama and congressional Republicans can strike a deal that averts all the horrors they???ve scheduled for Jan. 1. Perhaps they???ll take care of some; perhaps not. Either way, the performance is disgraceful.