Cliff Talks Hit 'Major Setback' at 11th Hour

Democrats reject 'chained CPI' in GOP offer
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2012 2:15 PM CST
Cliff Talks Hit 'Major Setback' at 11th Hour
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky listens to a reporter's question following the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

With the fiscal cliff in sight, Democrats and Republicans are no longer talking. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a "major setback" today over a fairly wonky provision known as "chained CPI," Democratic sources tell Politico. A means of calculating entitlement benefits, CPI is anathema to many liberals because it would give Social Security beneficiaries lower payments. And Democrats say they have made other concessions, like raising taxes only for those earning more than $400,000.

McConnell spoke on the Senate floor today, saying Republicans hadn't received a response to their offer from last night, the New York Times reports. Reid responded that Democrats had no counter-offer because they were "apart on some pretty big issues." President Obama said today on Meet the Press that he would accept "chained CPI" but only as part of a bigger deal that includes at least $1.2 trillion in new revenue over a decade. As it stands, Reid and McConnell are cutting a smaller deal to head off certain tax hikes and Medicare cuts, without tackling the deficit or preventing $109 billion in defense and domestic spending cuts slated for this year. (More fiscal cliff stories.)

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