There were a lot of theories as to how the fiscal cliff would be resolved – but this scenario was hardly an example of conventional wisdom.
This morning a bill is being prepared for President Obama’s signature, averting the fiscal cliff by tax relief for those individuals making $400,000 or less ($450,000 for couples), continuing unemployment benefits for 2 million unemployed workers, and delaying automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and other government agencies. The vote, taken in the House at 10:45 p.m. last night, was bipartisan but hardly decisive among Republicans. The measure passed 257 to 167, garnering only 85 Republican votes – meaning more than half of the bill’s support under the GOP-controlled House came from Democrats.
Upon passage of the bill, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement saying that the focus in Washington would now turn to spending. “The American people re-elected a Republican majority in the House, and we will use it in 2013 to hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt.” And in a preview of the next fight to come, President Obama said this last night from the White House briefing room: ”I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed. Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. “
The question in Washington this morning: Who has the upper hand? Will Republicans rally together to get the spending cuts they have long championed (and had hoped to get in this deal), or will the President use the momentum he has from this negotiation (a deal unpopular with so many House GOP members) to advance his own plans on entitlement and spending reform? We’ll find out soon enough – but before then, we’ll break down all the late night drama in DC today at noon ET on NOW.
Michael Steele, Fmr. RNC Chairman/msnbc Political Analyst (@steele_michael)
Kurt Andersen, Author, “True Believers” (@kbandersen)
Rana Foroohar, Assistant Managing Editor, TIME (@ranaforoohar)
Hugo Lindgren, Editor, The New York Times Magazine (@hugolindgren)
Ezra Klein, The Washington Post/msnbc Policy Analyst (@ezraklein) [DC WaPo]
Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute, Co-Author, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” [DC NC]