Update 6 p.m.: In his Friday afternoon press conference, President Obama described his meeting with congressional leaders as “good and constructive.” He repeatedly emphasized the importance of preventing tax increases on middle class families and the extension of unemployment benefits. He called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring some sort of bill to the floor no matter the outcome of his weekend discussions with McConnell, which would be a significant departure from the normal Reid modus operandi.
“Given how things work in this town, we always have to wait and see what happens,” said Obama. Well, that’s what happens when your party doesn’t pass a budget for four years. It does tend to make the final days of December rather suspenseful.
Update 5 p.m.: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the big news is coming on Sunday, when a deal will be presented to both parties in the Senate. He pronounced himself “hopeful and confident” about acceptance of this deal.
In today’s exciting “fiscal cliff” news, a meeting was held between President Obama and the leadership of both parties, in both houses of Congress, plus Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. At this meeting, and despite much advance hype to the contrary, President Obama reportedly repeated his demands for tax increases on every couple and small business making over $250,000 per year.
All four of the congressional leaders departed the White House without comment, although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi later ventured that she thought the meeting “moved us forward.” House Speaker John Boehner’s staff said he had no plans to return for the day. The President is scheduled to release a statement at 5:45 Eastern time.
The stock market received the non-news by groaning and curling into a fetal position. “The Dow dropped 158.20 points to 12,938.11 points, with losses accelerating in the last 20 minutes of trading as reports circulated that President Barack Obama would not be making a new budget proposal in a meeting with congressional leaders,” reported Politico. During the same 20 minutes, the federal government spent $135 million dollars, $43 million of which it did not have.