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Old 12-31-2012, 11:54 AM   #2
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LIVE: Liberals Blast Democrats' Fiscal Cliff Compromise

With less than 24 hours to go before the fiscal cliff deadline, lawmakers are still working furiously to try to hammer out a deal to avoid the package of tax hikes and budget cuts that is set to go into effect at midnight.

A rollercoaster weekend of negotiations ended at an impasse Sunday, after talks stalled for hours over Republican insistence that a deal must include cuts to Social Security. GOP leaders took that provision off the table Sunday night, but not before the Senate adjourned without a vote.

Reports now indicate that both sides are very close to a deal, but it's still unclear whether there will be enough time to pass a deal before the deadline hits.

The Senate reconvenes today at 11 a.m. We'll be updating below with all of the developments.

11:07 AM | The Senate is back in session...

11:09 AM | Harry Reid: Negotiations Are Continuing As We Speak, Still Issues To Be Resolved

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took the floor briefly to inform lawmakers that negotiations are still ongoing, but that they don't have anything to vote on yet.

"There are still some issues that need to be resolved before we can bring legislation to the floor," Reid said. "Negotiations are continuing as we speak."

"We really are running out of time," he added. "Americans are threatened with a tax hike in a few hours."

11:23 AM | Sen. Tom Harkin (D-ID) just blasted Democrats for giving up the farm on the fiscal cliff.

Harkin, a staunch liberal, took the Senate floor after Reid, and blasted his party for making too many concessions on the fiscal cliff - specifically by raising the threshold for extending the Bush tax cuts to $450,000, up from the $250,000 that President Barack Obama campaigned on.

"This looks like a very bad deal."

Harkin's sentiments have been echoed by many Democrats, who are frustrated with last night's developments. After talks failed in the Senate yesterday, fiscal cliff negotiations turned into a backroom affair between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. According to reports, Biden also agreed to concede to Republican demands on the estate tax, in addition to agreeing to raise the income threshold for the Bush tax cuts.

12:04 PM | Everyone is saying that Obama got rolled on fiscal cliff talks.

Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein has a pretty brutal takedown of the White House's leadership on the fiscal cliff. The gist of his argument is that while Obama entered the fiscal cliff negotiations with the apparent advantage, he has caved every step of the way.

Here's the key passage:

The Republicans plan to say that now that they broke their pledge and voted for a tax increase, they'll insist on a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of debt-ceiling increase - the so-called "Boehner rule". The White House plans to insist that it won't negotiate over the debt ceiling at all.

Republicans I've spoken to laugh at this bluster. Obama is already negotiating over the debt ceiling, they point out. He began the fiscal cliff negotiations by saying he wanted a permanent solution to the debt ceiling. Then it was a two-year increase in the debt limit. Now he's going to sign off on a mini-deal that doesn't increase the debt ceiling at all. Does that really sound like someone who's going to hold firm when faced with global economic chaos? The White House always talks tough at the beginning of negotiations and then always folds at the end. Republicans are confident that the debt ceiling will be no different.

Slate blogger Matt Yglesias has a similar take here. The White House, Ygelesias argues, lost any credibility it had by putting the debt ceiling on the table despite insisting that Obama wouldn't negotiate on raising the debt limit. Even worse, by including the debt ceiling in a "grand bargain" package delayed until 2015 , the Obama White House is actually institutionalizing the practice of negotiating on the debt ceiling.

12:08 PM | Paul Krugman has also chimed in...
The New York Times columnist just blasted Obama for being the worst poker player ever >

12:27 PM | Major Democrat drama over the sequester

CNN reporter Dana Bash tweets that Democrats are pushing hard against Republican demands over the sequester, the package of dramatic budget cuts scheduled to go into effect at midnight.

According to Bash, Republicans are pushing for the fiscal cliff deal to include a three month delay of the sequester, and want to use the Chained CPI to offset the cuts. Democrats want to push back the sequester until 2015, and use new revenues to pay for the cuts.

Now Democrats are saying they will block any bill that includes a three-month delay, part of a ploy to keep Vice President Joe Biden from agreeing to the measure.

12:42 PM | Obama to speak at the White House at 1:30 p.m.

"You are free to make choices. You are not free to escape the consequences."
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