Still no fiscal cliff deal in sight 

Posted: 9:45 pm Thursday, December 13th, 2012

By Jamie Dupree

After a week filled with finger pointing and increasingly caustic verbal exchanges, lawmakers in both parties left Washington, D.C. last night hoping for a breakthrough on the fiscal cliff, but seemingly more and more pessimistic about the negotiations on the tax and budget impasse.

“Spending is the problem,” said House Speaker John Boehner, who for a third straight day used a public forum to blast the White House, accusing the President of mainly wanting to raise taxes and not cut the budget.

Boehner met late on Thursday afternoon with the President at the White House for about 50 minutes, but there was no word of any breakthrough, with just two weekends left before Christmas.

The divide is pretty simple – Republicans feel the Democrats want to rely too much on tax increases, Democrats charge the GOP only wants to cut needed spending.

And there seems to be precious little room in the middle.

“Speaker Boehner can’t ignore the American people forever,” fumed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who joined other Democrats in slamming Republican leaders and ruling out certain ideas in a deficit deal.

“As I have said, don’t even think about raising the Medicare age,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“We are not throwing America’s seniors over the cliff to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in America,” Pelosi said at a news conference.

Down at the White House, Presidential spokesman Jay Carney labeled GOP tax and budget plans, “fantasy economics,” as the rhetoric jumped up a few more notches on Thursday, leading many to wonder if a deal was even possible at this point.

Boehner and the President seem to be about $600 billion apart on new tax revenue and about $700 billion apart on spending cuts.

How that divide should be bridged is at the heart of this tax and budget dispute, as both sides seemed to take a few steps backward this week.

Republican leaders in the House told rank and file members to keep their travel plans flexible, refusing to rule out votes on the weekend before Christmas, and even the week after Christmas.

Nothing like Jingle Bells on the Capitol steps.