It is looking increasingly likely that rather than avoiding the fiscal cliff, House Republicans and President Barack Obama will only agree on a stopgap framework rather than making a deal to solve the problem, said Democratic strategist Doug Schoen in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
Schoen also said that UN Ambassador Susan Rice did Obama a “vast, vast favor” by removing her name from consideration for secretary of state because she had come to understand just how controversial her potential nomination had become.
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The American people, he said, want to see a deal from Congress but with both parties appearing to overreach in only pushing what their side wants — Democrats refusing to reform entitlements, Republicans resisting any tax increases — that is looking less and less likely.
“[If] we get a stopgap agreement or an interim agreement and a framework going forward, the markets and the American people will not react well,” Schoen said. “We could have a reaction like the one we had to debt ceiling negotiations in July of 2011. So I am cautiously pessimistic. I hope I’m wrong... [but the problem is that] people see it from the point of view of Democrats and Republicans rather than from the point of view of the whole country.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner can get to a deal with Obama, Schoen said, but the bigger question is whether or not he can get enough of his caucus to vote for it. The need is to find both Democrats and Republicans who actually want a deal, so “it’s the centers of both parties, to the extent they exist, that have to respond and put the people first.”
There’s a good chance, Schoen explained, that Boehner could “face an insurrection in his caucus” while he attempts to do “the people’s business” amongst endless party politics and hardline bickering. “He’s in a very difficult situation. He could win and lose. He could get a deal that is palatable to maybe a third of the Republican members of the House, could cost him the speakership and it could be the grand bargain.”
"The American people want a deal,” he said. “They recognize that rates have to go up, we need to raise more revenue and we need to cut spending. And they say, why can’t two parties come together, do a balanced approach, reform entitlements, cut spending, reform defense and raise rates and revenue? The American people say the politicians just don’t appear to be listening.”
One less thing the Senate will argue about is the nomination of Susan Rice to take Hillary Clinton’s job as secretary of state after she pulled her name from consideration on Thursday, he said.
“With Susan Rice having withdrawn her name and the president having said that she’ll be part of his national security team, maybe even national security adviser, that that issue is temporarily off the table,” Schoen said. “There are some other issues with Susan Rice and how she’s acted towards autocrats in Africa that could well be litigated later on. But, right now, the fiscal cliff is going to dominate our discussion, at the very least, for the next two weeks if not well beyond.”
Schoen said that ending the increasingly vicious debate over her potential nomination was a good thing for Obama, as well as for Congress’s focus on the fiscal cliff negotiation.
“She did him a vast, vast favor,” he said. “He did not want to pull her out precipitously. On the other hand, he knew, and she came to understand, that based on her appearance on Capitol Hill with Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham and, most of all, John McCain, that she did herself no favors and her nomination was going to be controversial at the very least if not unsuccessful.”
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