Chronicling the Senate's effort to avert the cliff
January 1st, 2013
06:30 PM ET

Chronicling the Senate's effort to avert the cliff

By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Washington, DC (CNN) – It is not difficult to blame Congress for the last-minute, still-unfinished work on the fiscal cliff. But it may be more useful to look at why Congress now regularly ends up in this situation, and how it handles it.

CNN Radio spent four days chronicling the Senate talks over the fiscal cliff which included at least two major breakdowns in negotiations and, of course, the final 2 A.M. vote on Tuesday.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, who voted for the bill but was unhappy with the continued problems in negotiations, said:

[4:26] “Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does, right? More than anything else it suggests a detachment of the real world – from the reality of the average person and what they face on a daily basis”

Listen to the process and the sounds of the Capitol during the final days of the Senate's effort to avert the fiscal cliff.

Subscribe to this podcast oniTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

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soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. John the Historian

    The Republicans need to know the 1950s are over. Leave it to beaver world is over. Haven't they seen the movie Pleasantville? Have they never seen a gay movie or a Madonna concert or a Kylie Minogue concert? Have they never traveled to a foreign country? How uneducated are the Republicans ? The paerty of the Christian Right, the corporate elite, and the military-industrial complex need to know that not paying your fair share of taxes, banning all abortion even in case of rape and incest, and launching tommy hawk missiles will not solve any problems in the USA. The Southern Baptists, Mormons, and the Catholic hierarchy need to realize they world view is very outdated. The American people do not want an Oliver Cromwell theocracy. It doesn't work. Go to a Gay bar, travel to a foreign country, go to the big city and see a modern day pop concert. Don't believe those ministers or GOp propaganda Fox News. Read some books by Voltaire, Mark Twain, and Chris Hedges. The world is getting smaller.

    January 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JM Roach

    CNN – give us the hard core news with relevant names. For example – who pushed the pork items into this recent bill. ?We know how and who voted it in–but give us the underlying names of those those who push trivia/pork when the people in the US are trying to save families,homes,destroyed land.Take the Halloween Masks off of these fat politicianswhose names are buried in the news.

    January 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Liam

    The problem with this country is our political system. The two parties to represent the people today were created prior to the Civil War. Every year, every election, the same rhetoric. Do these parties really represent the people of today?

    January 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dubdub

    This whole debate is a hoot. No one really knows or cares what is going to happen other than they will pay more taxes. The media blamed Congress for considering themselves and not the country when reporting on the so called fiscal cliff issues. CNN even said they should put country first. Now that the deal is done, all they are reporting is the impact on the individual. Does anyone really care that this is bad for the country? What will this bill do for the Country? Even the CBO says its bad. According to various reports, it has approx $41 in revenue increases for each $1 in spending cuts. We don't have a revenue problem, the US has a SPENDING problem and no one is willing to address it.

    Did anyone read the bill? It gives Hollywood over $400 million in tax incentives, NASCAR gets $60 million, the electric motorcycle also gets an incentive. When are we going to learn? Any and all cronies of the Democrats and the President get a break, not Joe Sixpack, middle class American.

    Put more people back to work by growing the economy will increase tax revenue. Also close some of the dumb loopholes and it will generate even more revenue.

    I don't mind the payroll tax increases. IMHO, that was part of the problem that got us where we are today, especially with Social Security and Medicare funding.

    January 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. clem kadiddle

    The only way to fight what is happening to us is. Put the spending brakes on. STARVE the FN corporations of their gross profits and the government out of tax revenue. They will get the idea quick. The American consumer can be in control of everything if they would only come together. You would see mass deflation in no time, which is what we really need. Our CHIT for Brains politicians can't figure out that jobs equal tax revenue. I will tell you that our entire congress need to be thrown over a cliff like the grand canyon, they have brought America to the road to ruin.

    January 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJJ

      Deflation? you have no idea what you are talking about. The most dangerous thing it could happen. None would want to produce anything because the price that they could get for their product or service would be less than what it cost them to produce it. It is a very dangerous spiral, very difficult to stop. Inflation is not the problem, as long it is stable and small.
      I dis agree also with your notion that there is no revenue problem. The revenue problem was created with the Bush tax cuts, the first time that were established. Not because the tax cuts, but because there was no offset for them. In addition the country entered in additional spending, read here wars and trying to stop, soft-land the recession.
      Agree that there are probably programs that need to be look at, even cut. Medicare etc, also need some changes, but defense also needs a significant cut.

      Happy New Year

      January 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. FED up with the Feds

    Lets jump.
    We all have lost so lets jump off the cliff. Least its a start.
    Obama says everybody pay thier fair share? When?
    The so called 51% living off of entitlements need to pay too. Lets take the tax code that Obama said needed redone and do a flat tax. ALL will pay then. Take the 77,000 page tax code and make it one page, ojk maybe 10.
    JUMP I say, JUMP.

    January 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bennyz75

      I agree to the flat tax, but as a working class and a consumer, it will only be fair that all sales tax, and any kind taxes based on consumption be lifted/eliminated. Then the flat tax will work.
      Right now, we the consumer and the working class pay anywhere from 8-10percent more on consumption tax (i.e./ sales tax and gas tax).

      January 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. clem kadiddle

    Welcome to the new world order/global economy. We have given our jobs and technology away and thus our livelyhood. There are two entities responsible for this and it is corporate America and Companys that out source our jobs; and of course the Government who has allowed this to happen. Any idiot should know not to comingle ones assets, resources, socio, geographic, economic soverignity. This is capitalism turned into a ponzi scheme by the corporate industrialist of the world. What I find amazing is that our elected leaders bought it hook line and sinker. We need a FORKIN REVOLUTION in this Country.

    January 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. can't afford to work anymore

    so they are increasing SS by 2%. from 4.6 to 6.6. which is a very substantial amount for the lower income. can't afford gas, can't afford taxes......everyone who voted for our "so called" savior and almighty who is suppost to deliver us from poverty and famish! Tell him thanks alot! better off on assistance and then the government call really rule its upper hand. The rich get richer and the poor can go live in the gutter.

    January 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      First, it's 6.2% from 4.2%. And are you really blaming Obama for this increase? You do realize that he's the one who lowered it to 4.2% in the first place, right? And it was always intended to be temporary. To help you understand, this is how social security is funded. You pay 1/3 less in, guess what happens on the other side?

      January 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Revolution by Voting

      If we would, as a society, not Republican or Democrat, as a society. Get 60-70% of the voters to start voting for the guy who is not in office, the challenger. And turn these seats over 2-3 times, they would start listening. They would not listen to party lines they would listen to US. They know what to do they are not stupid, but they think they have to appease the party. Take the party out, and make them listen to common sense. It is not a cure all, but they would start doing what is right, and not what they think someone else thinks is right. We have the power, we chose not to use it. But we can, and we can change their viewpoints, but we have to do it together, at least 60-70% of us. We are not going to please eveyone, but we can please the majority of Americans and get these guys to change.

      January 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Linda

    Wouldn't it be nice, if ... for just once, we the people could hold our hand of the button that would cut their pay and stop their benefits, while we bicker back-and-forth on which one should be cut more. Let them see how they can manage without what they call entitlements.

    January 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adam Dorfman

    First, Republicans wanted to give tax cuts to the wealthy. Even though IMF reports showed that tax cuts for the wealthy barely had any impact whatsoever on growth. This was essentially giving free handouts to the wealthy as the true socialist.

    Now, just as the USA economy is about to turn the corner Republican wants to slam on the brakes again and appear determine to “fight”, as quoted, the administration over a concept of should we pay our bill or default. Really?! Default?! You want to negotiate in front of the world, on whether the country should default or pay its obligations? That's a new low.

    I guess they have no intentions of creating the energy needed to help push people in NYC State back into productivity after the Sandy storm. Do they know, NYC is one of the most productive states?

    – So give rich people tax cuts, even if does not impact growth.
    – "Fight" and use the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool whether the USA should pay its bills
    – and don't help NYC with voting on the $60 billion aid package, or provide clarification on it.

    This is embarrassing.

    As the global reserve currency of the world, increased spending by the government in a recession has the greatest and a significant impact to growth. Free handouts to wealthy Americans do not effect growth and certainty arguing about whether you should pay your bills does not either. Being the reserve currency of the world is a huge benefit and right now the administration is taking full advantage of their position even if it does not have the savings that other countries require to implement such a strategy.

    Is this a fight for American productivity? Does it really make sense to cut spending abruptly right now. You probably only need to give it a year more, as the economy is already showing signs of progress and China is in the process of increasing the yuan convertibility, thus improving capital flows.

    USA is a unique economy with unique capital flow characteristics. USA is not Zimbabwe or Greece. Forget about fighting this year... spending is non-linear event, it will come down soon. Rest Assured... but don't swing a pitch before its even left the hands of the pitcher.

    January 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smitty

      You cant borrow yourself out of debt and into a good economy.

      While the arguable point of the minimal impact of less taxes on the wealthy can be made the same arguement has shown the minimal impact of raising taxes on the wealthy will make. The government HAS TO CUT SPENDING or all this rhetoric about taxes is useless!

      In any household that is spending more money than it brings in...the answer is not to borrow more money but to make cuts where they are needed.

      January 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mrs Time

        Were you spouting this when GW was in office and spending like a drunken fool?

        January 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
        • Mike

          You do understand that GW raised the debt 5 trillion in 8 years and Obama raised it 6 trillion in 4 years. Do you need help with basic math? If you consider Bush spending like a drunken fool, what do you call Obama?

          January 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • dandy

        I agree Smitty. And I think that Adam guy is the embarrassing one. What an idiot. I heard nothing from Republicans about giving the rich tax cuts. I heard a lot from Republicans about not increasing their taxes but lets eliminate the tax loops. I don't think making rich pay a higher rate of taxes is going to save the US. I don't think cutting their taxes will either for that matter either. I do think Adam is ignorant in thinking that increasing government spending (more bills that he says we should pay) stimulates the economy. He said, "increased spending by the government in a recession has the greatest and a significant impact to growth". What an idiotic thing to say. Where the heck does he propose to get that money to pay it back if we just keep spending. Oh, I remember, lets just keep taxing the rich to death, that will fix it. How about everyone pay the same dang tax rate and stop spending and wasting money.

        January 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Al

        Well said Smitty!

        Taxing the rich will not solve any of our problems. It is simply a diversion by the democrats to avoid dealing with the real issues. The Republican are no better either. They're arguments are just as flawed as the Democrats. Both political parties are playing the general population like puppets. Everyone knows the problem is overspending. Everyone know what needs to be done but we all are so selfish and self centered that we want everyone else to do the sacrificing. SS and Medicare/Medicaid are the 800 pound gorillas that no one wants to touch.

        Our political system is completely broken. Any politicians who choose to do the right will most certainly be voted out of office on the next election. As any real change that is needed will likely to offend some group/s. Majority of the voters are only after their own interest. Politicians are people too, they want job securities and they are no different than you and I. So don't expect our politicians to come up with any viable solutions anytime soon. It will require a major catastrophe in order for majority of population to wake up and realize that we all have to sacrifice some.

        If no one has the kahunas to do the right thing, at least tackle the issue of SS and Medicare fraud. Cut out payments of SS to folks who have never contributed to it. I could care less on the arguments of immigrants who wants to work and etc... However, the real issue here is that we already have a whole population of immigrants from all over the world who can petition their parents to the country and immediately draw SS without working a single day or paying a penny into it. Many of them end up going back to their countries of origin and continue to draw SS because our government have no way of tracking them. Now add in the burden of legalizing approximately 12 million illegal immigrants and you just potentially authorized the addition of millions of eventual new US citizens drawing SS that have never worked a day here in US but are drawing the benefits. If I am against legalization of illegal immigrant it would be only for this reason. Otherwise, let them in if want to come in but their parents can not draw money from the already exhausted fund!

        January 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. will heatley

    wait. what happens when the rich run out of money?

    January 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      How in the hell could the Rich ever run out of money?? As long as there are poor people, the rich will never run out of money because when their assets starts to get low, they will make new laws to steal & milk more out of the poor. What!, the peasants does not have cake, well, let them eat each other because we got to keep the BREAD

      January 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert

    This stuff is done to make us think these people are so valuable we cannot live without them. It's all so fake.

    January 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |