Massive federal spending cuts and tax hikes for most Americans are looming if Congress reaches no agreement by Tuesday to avoid the fiscal cliff.
What is needed, said Congressman John Tierney, is for both sides to compromise. Tierney, a Salem Democrat, has a front-row seat as the debate swirls in Washington, with the House set to take up the matter Sunday. President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders of both parties yesterday afternoon.
The threat of imposing $110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts and $536 billion in tax hikes was supposed to drive both sides to compromise. No one wants these arbitrary cuts or the tax hikes to take effect. Some fear they may lead to recession.
The blame, the way Tierney sees it, rests with a group of Republicans who are “adamant and uncompromising,” and who seem to be holding back moderates in their own party from making a deal, which would include, as the president has insisted, raising taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans.
Tierney said yesterday Democrats have been willing to compromise, but the other side has not.
“It’s frustrating in the sense that I think and others think a compromise could be reached if people would just be reasonable,” Tierney said.
The Republican caucus, Tierney said, seems to be led by an “all or nothing” group of about 60 lawmakers who are staunchly opposed to raising taxes and refuse to bend.
“I am absolutely frustrated,” said Tierney, “only because we were always able to make laws until the tea party got in the door.”
Tierney said some Republicans may be afraid of Grover Norquist, president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, which wants to limit the size of government and favors tax reform. Many GOP lawmakers have taken its pledge not to raise taxes. In this Congress, 238 House members and 41 senators took the pledge, nearly all of them Republicans, according to the group’s website. Only two House Democrats and one Democratic senator have signed the pledge.