Distrust among members of Congress complicates 'cliff' talks


President Barack Obama and his Republican opponents in Congress enter a crucial week in the "fiscal cliff" impasse with more than just differences over taxes to bridge.

Also in the way is pervasive mistrust among members of Congress that discourages big concessions for fear the other side won't reciprocate.

That distrust is fueling doubts among Republicans and Democrats about relying on the other side to live up to any bargains struck now on deficit reduction in the future, Capitol Hill aides say.

Because resolution of the immediate cliff issues depends in part on commitments by both sides to a framework for overhauling the tax code and entitlement programs over the next year, an atmosphere of disbelief could impede any agreement on the cliff.

Nearly everyone - from Obama to most of the 535 members of the House of Representatives and Senate - say they want to avoid the cliff's $600 billion in harmful tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in automatically in the new year, and replace them with more reasoned savings.

Obama wants the tax cuts that originated during the administration of President George W. Bush extended for middle class taxpayers only, while Republicans want them extended for all, including the wealthiest.

But widespread credibility issues could cause problems for Democrat Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner if and when they have to sell any agreement they forge to their parties in Congress.

The task for Boehner, who met Sunday with Obama, may be greater because many Republicans distrust each other as well as the Democrats.

The distrust between the parties is nothing new, having been built up over years of partisan recrimination. But it's now become a regular feature of debate on the cliff, on and off the floors of the House and Senate.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.