At Fiscal Cliff, a House-Senate Chasm Over Whether Deal Is Even Doable

House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can't even agree whether deal is doable.


Congress doesn't just disagree about how to handle the so-called fiscal cliff, now it appears lawmakers cannot agree on whether a deal is even possible.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Tuesday that he's lost faith in Congress to make a deal on the fiscal cliff, an economically toxic mix of tax increases and spending cuts due to simultaneously go into effect at year's end. [On September 11, Republicans Ding Obama on Defense Cuts.]

"I'm not confident at all," Boehner said. "Listen, the House has done its job on both the sequester and on the looming tax hikes that will cost our economy 700,000 jobs. The Senate, at some point, has to act. And on both of these, where's the president? Where's the leadership? Absent without leave."

The credit rating group Moody's sent up a red flag Tuesday warning that unless Congress could strike a deal to avoid automatic budget cuts, the government could face another credit downgrade. The U.S. government was downgraded last fall after lawmakers failed to negotiate a raise on the debt ceiling quickly enough.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admonished Boehner for walking away so early.

"I was disappointed when my friend John Boehner said today that he has no confidence on the budget deal. I think we have to look the glass being half full, not half empty all of the time," Reid says. "I am confident that we will reach some kind of an arrangement. I think we can avoid a cutoff. It is much, much too early to give up. I am not going to give up."

Reid's optimistic that after the November election, assuming things break as Democrats hope, far-right Republicans will have less power to block negotiations.

"I have been here for a while, and I believe that once the elections are over, the Tea Party's strength will be significantly weakened," Reid says.