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Tipsheet

Fiscal Cliff Talks Not Going Well So Far

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but fiscal cliff discussion between Republicans and Democrats has already started and will continue after the Holiday weekend. As you can imagine things aren't going so well, which means we are more likely to see some kind of deal not in the next couple weeks, but just before or on Christmas.

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The opening round of negotiations this week between White House and senior GOP congressional staffers left both sides pessimistic about their ability to reach a quick deal on averting the fiscal cliff, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Hill Democrats say Republicans aren’t serious about crafting a deal that President Barack Obama can accept. The GOP’s opening offer, the sources said, would freeze the Bush-era tax rates, change the inflation calculator for entitlement programs, keep the estate tax at 2012 levels and authorize a major overhaul of the Tax Code — although they did not provide a revenue target.

The behind-the-scenes clash in negotiations stands in contrast to the more conciliatory rhetoric both sides have used in public statements, casting doubt on the coming four weeks of talks before Christmas.

In addition to wanting to keep the Bush tax rates, Republicans also want to postpone the sequester, or tens of billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts for the Pentagon and domestic programs set to kick in on Jan. 2.

For their part, Republicans remain unconvinced that Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will make the kind of significant concessions on entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid that would make them agree to tax rate hikes.

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Meanwhile, the Democrat controlled Senate hasn't passed a budget in more than 1200 days.

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