Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: Debt Limit Eve

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Morning Examiner,Debt Ceiling,Fiscal Cliff

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner again inserted himself into fiscal cliff negotiations Wednesday, sending a two-paragraph letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., informing him that the federal government will reach its $16.394 trillion legal borrowing limit in less than a weak. “I am writing to inform you that the statutory debt limit will be reached on December 31, 2012,” Geithner wrote. That’s quite a way to celebrate the New Year.

Geithner’s letter also said Treasury would soon begin taking certain “extraordinary measures” that would “create approximately $200 billion in headroom under the debt limit.” “Under normal circumstances, that amount of headroom would last approximately two months,” Geithner wrote. But “the expiring tax provisions and automatic spending cuts” scheduled to begin on January 1st could add “some additional time to the duration of the extraordinary measures,” he explained.

Unless Reid begins rounding up votes for a new bill, Geithner will get that extra time. House Republican leaders upped the pressure on Reid earlier in the day by releasing a statement promising to vote on whatever Reid produces. “The House will take action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act,” a statement from House Speaker John Boehner’s, R-Ohio, office read.

Reid is reportedly already rounding up votes from Republican Senators for a package that would extend current tax rates for all incomes below $250,000 and fix the Alternative Minimum Tax that is also scheduled to hit millions of upper-middle class American families. Democrats also want to tack on another unemployment benefit extension, a Medicare doc fix, and maybe even a delay in scheduled spending cuts.

But whatever talks Reid is having with willing Republicans apparently does not include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told The New York Times that neither the White House nor Reid’s office has reached out to McConnell to begin negotiations.

The resolution of the federal government’s most recent fiscal crisis now rests firmly in President Obama’s hands. Either he can find the seven Republican Senate votes necessary to prevent a $4.6 trillion tax cut between now and New Year’s Eve, or we all are about to go over the cliff.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: No vote for Kerry until Clinton testifies
Tim Carney: Taxpayers often win when special interests fight each other
Michael Barone: Obama’s numbers went down, but Romney never inspired voters to vote
Phil Klein: John Roberts is the person of the year

In Other News

Politico, Supreme Court denies emergency injunction in contraception case: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday turned down a request that she block part of Obamacare that would require companies’ health plans to provide for coverage of certain contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill.
The New York Times, Pay in Oil Fields Is Luring Youths in Montana: For most high school seniors, a college degree is the surest path to a decent job and a stable future. But here in oil country, some teenagers are choosing the oil fields over universities, forgoing higher education for jobs with salaries that can start at $50,000 a year.
The Wall Street Journal, Home Prices Hit a Milestone: Home prices are on track to notch their first yearly gain since 2006, the strongest performance since the housing bust and a development that could accelerate the real-estate rebound even as the broader economy stutters.
The Los Angeles Times, Black voter turnout may have surpassed whites for the first time: Despite often-voiced concerns about the effect of voter identification laws, black voter turnout remained high in 2012 and, for the first time, may have topped the rate for whites, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Righty Playbook
Avik Roy explains why Switzerland is A Case Study in Consumer-Driven Health Care.
Daniel Halper asks, “Where’s Hillary?”
Daniel Foster explains why Obama should build the Death Star.

Lefty Playbook
Jamelle Bouie explains why Democrats insist on upper-income tax hikes.
Kevin Drum tries to brand the fiscal cliff as “The Great Republican Recession of 2013.”
Joan McCarter worries that Kent Conrad is giving away too much in fiscal cliff negotiations.

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