WASHINGTON Dec 4 With a few weeks remaining
before the onset of "fiscal cliff," a bipartisan delegation of
governors is set to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama and
congressional leaders in search of some answers about the impact
of deficit reduction measures on their state budgets, which rely
heavily on federal aid.
Federal grants to the states comprise about a third of state
revenues in the United States, according to the Pew Center on
Cutbacks in federal contracting due to the automatic budget
cuts set for Jan. 1 will also reduce employment levels
regionally, with the heaviest impact expected in areas with
large numbers of defense contractors.
The governors making the rounds Tuesday, who hold leadership
positions in the National Governors Association, are Democrats
Jack Markell of Delaware, Mark Dayton of Minnesota and Mike
Beebe of Arkansas and Republican Gary Herbert of Utah, Scott
Walker of Wisconsin and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.
The so-called fiscal cliff refers to combination of
government spending cuts and tax rises due to be implemented
under existing law starting New Year's Day that may cut the
federal budget deficit but also tip the economy back into
But with Republicans and Democrats still in preliminary
stages of negotiations over how to avoid the steep tax hikes and
spending cuts set for the end of the year, these NGA leaders
may leave frustrated, as have numerous other delegations of
civic, union and business leaders trooping to Washington in the
past few months.
Republicans proposed steep spending cuts on Monday but gave
no ground on Obama's call to raise taxes on the wealthiest in
their first formal proposal to avert the fiscal cliff.
The White House dismissed the Republican proposal within an
hour of its being made public, the same treatment Republicans
gave Obama's deficit reduction plan last week.
While the offers and counteroffers between Republicans and
Democrats may ultimately create the conditions for actually
getting in a room together and bargaining at length, so far the
moves have been out in public and mostly for show.
It's "just a Kabuki theater you go through" so far, Erskine
Bowles said in an interview Monday evening on PBS' "Newshour."
Bowles was co-chair with former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of a
deficit reduction commission widely praised for its
recommendations two years ago but never accepted by either
"They're going to have to get together at some point in time
when the time is right in a conference room and go through these
three big items," Bowles said.
That theater is likely to continue Tuesday when Democrats in
the House of Representatives begin an effort to force a vote on
tax hikes on the wealthy, over the objections of the
Republican-controlled House, which is not expected to bring a
bill to the floor until a bargain is struck.
Under House rules, the minority Democrats would need about
26 Republican votes to succeed with their "discharge petition,"
and the process takes so long that it would likely be weeks
before a vote would actually take place.
"We just don't know what Washington's going to do," Oklahoma
Gov. Mary Fallin told The Oklahoman on the eve of her departure
The city is now awash in competing plans to cut the
exploding Federal deficit.
A think tank with ties to the Obama administration laid out
another one Tuesday, urging the president to go bold and seek
more concessions from Republicans on tax hikes.
The $4.1 trillion deficit-cutting plan from the Center for
American Progress seeks $1.8 trillion in new revenue, compared
with Obama's call to raise $1.6 trillion.
It also calls for a 28 percent tax on capital gains income
for high earners, whereas Obama has called for about a 24
percent tax rate, including new taxes from the healthcare