Will there be any surprises as Congressional Republicans sit down with President Obama?



New York's Charles Schumer has talked about this before, and on Sunday, so did Missouri's Claire McCaskill on Fox News Sunday:






MCCASKILL: Well, I think we should draw the line in the sand for millionaires. Honestly, with all the talk and the righteous indignation about the deficit, are we really going to hold up tax cuts for all of America just for the millionaires? And I think that's where we should draw the line.


Our deficit is serious. Anybody who believes that that small tax differential for militaries is going to make a big difference on job creation hasn't been paying attention. There's many things we can do that's much more stimulative to the economy than taking care of the millionaires.






Later on that same show, Fox News analyst William Kristol said he didn't think the idea would fly with Republicans.  We'll see.  Because seriously, though the election one could argue was a mandate for a check on what the Obama administration has been doing on a variety of fronts, there is divided government now in our Congress, but the President remains Barack Obama, and he need not give away the store just to compromise with some Republicans who have no intention of reciprocating.



And how much would extending the Bush tax cuts to those making less than $1 million cost us in terms of the deficit?  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the ten-year cost would be $3.6 trillion -  less than the $4 trillion that maintaining the tax cuts to everybody would cost, but more (obviously) than if you ended the tax cuts for those making $250,000 and above ($3.2 trillion).



Seriously, the trust factor between the President and the Republicans won't go away after today.  Just as many members of the GOP aren't sure how sincere Obama is, and question if he can change course and work with them, Obama will be in the same room with one of those leaders, Mitch McConnell, who has already said that his main mission in life is to insure that the President is not re-elected in 2012.  How that gets finessed will require adult behavior amongst all concerned.




This morning at 10:30 a.m.,  a group of Republicans - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker-Elect John Boehner, and Minority Whip Jon Kyle are scheduled to finally have their sit down with President Obama that had originally been scheduled 12 days earlier, but was called off for some reason by those same Republicans (they'll be joined by top Democrats as well).

Expectations are low for any breakthrough, particularly since the meeting is supposed to last only between 60-90 minutes.

So what will the topics for discussion?  Topping the list must be a discussion and possible compromise regarding the Bush-era tax cuts, which expire in exactly a month.

You know the story: both the administration, Democrats, and Republicans want to maintain all of those cuts, and in fact make them permanent, for every American making less than $250,000 a year.

The GOP wants the cuts to go to everybody, but the President, other Democrats and their supporters say the country can't afford to continue to give tax cuts to those making more than $250,000, saying it will tack on $70 billion annually to the deficit, which allegedly is the number one factor driving political decisions in Washington today.

But if neither party wilts (and they won't), the art of compromise will be required.  There has been talk of extending the tax cuts for all for another 1, 2 or 3 years.

But that can't fly for Democrats, who don't want/need this discussion to come up next year, and especially not two years from now, when every Representative and a third of their Senators are up for re-election.  To quote an anonymous official in a story in today's Politico:

"I think that’s insanity,” said a top Senate Democratic aide of a one-year extension. “We’re going to have the same debate next year? If you’re worried about 2012, you want to have a tax fight in the middle of the [election] cycle? Democrats don’t win tax debates in an election year.”

The intriguing new shift in these discussions is a compromise measure being promoted by several Democratic Senators that would raise the top tax rate to $1 million, and thus give many of those small businesses a continuing tax cut, while again focusing on the rich having to pay their fair share of taxes.

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