Fiscal Cliff Key Players: Obama, Boehner, Geithner, Krueger and Others

Monday, 19 Nov 2012 09:30 AM

By Peter Moses

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As Election Day begets Veteran’s Day and later November brings Thanksgiving with Christmas and a new year peeking just beyond the horizon, our leaders in Washington seemed poised to focus on the brooding image of a new year with the dreaded “fiscal cliff” looming over everything.

If a deal isn’t made before the year ends, mandated cuts across the board will be enacted, cutting federal unemployment payments, defense spending and the end of the Bush tax cuts, among others. Who are the deciders in this debate? Whom do we have in our nation’s capital speaking for us and deciding what course of action is best for the majority of Americans.

Who are the main players in this unfolding drama?
Clearly President Barack Obama and his administration play a key role, as does House Majority Leader, Ohio Republican John Boehner. They seem to be the two most outspoken leaders crafting ways to get a deal done. Vice President Joe Biden also plays a major role and has said Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney gives him a mandate to be tough in negotiations with congressional Republicans.

Mitt Romney?
His role effectively ended when he lost to Obama in the recent election. But the ideas floated during the campaign about ending loopholes for some might be revisited in the coming weeks.

What financial pros have the President’s ear on this?
Obviously Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has and will play a leading role. But since he has said he’s stepping down after this issue is decided, some believe his role might be somewhat diminished. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke no doubt will weigh in heavily. His use of the term “fiscal cliff” turned it into a catch phrase and his role will certainly remain front and center. Jack Lew is Obama’s chief of staff and some believe he might take over Geithner’s spot when he leaves.

Who else?
Alan B. Krueger is the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the Cabinet. He’s been on the job a little over a year and previously served under Obama as Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Other key figures, according to the Washington Post include economic advisers Gene Sperling and Jason Furman; and Rob Nabors, the White House’s liaison to Congress.

How important is John Boehner in this debate?
He is very important and is the pivotal congressional member in the position of engaging in productive horse trading and developing a workable solution. The Washington Post recently reported the starting point should be a deficit-reduction deal Boehner and Obama agreed to in secret talks in the summer of 2011. They tentatively agreed to slice $2.4 trillion from future borrowing by trimming Medicare and Social Security benefits and generating $800 billion in new revenue by overhauling the tax code.

The details were never nailed down specifically but those talks would be a natural jumping off point to restart discussion.

Who are the other key Republicans?
The Washington Post said Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Dave Camp could all play important roles in the discussions and might be able to sway members of their party to agree to a compromise. Cantor has close ties to the Tea Party movement and has been skeptical about trusting Obama on tax issues. Ryan, the former vice presidential nominee, is a policy wonk who advocates an aggressive overhaul of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. Dave Camp of Michigan is the chair of the House tax writing committee and he has been vocal about making a deal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will also have a leading role and speaks often to the media about important matters.

Who should I listen to?
There are certainly advocates for all sides depending on your political leanings. At the end of the day, common sense dictates a deal should be in the offing or else we might face more economic setbacks. Check back on Newsmax regularly for updates as these important events unfold.

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