WASHINGTON (CBS) - President Obama telephoned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday while his top Capitol Hill Lieutenant Rob Nabors huddled for the second day in a row with senior staff to House Speaker John Boehner. And for a second day in a row, no discernible progress was made toward breaking the fiscal cliff stalemate.
President Obama left that drama behind and warned supporters in suburban Detroit the fiscal cliff is serious business. He says, "If Congress doesn't act soon, meaning in the next few weeks, starting on January 1st everybody's going to see their incomes taxes go up."
Boehner and House Republicans want to preserve all of the Bus-era tax rates due to expire at year's end, shielding everyone from a tax increase. Obama wants them to rise for households earning more than $250,000 and has so far resisted GOP demands for spending cuts for health care or education. President Obama says, "I'm not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks, and then we're asking students to pay higher student loans."
Even so, Democrats worry President Obama might cave to Republicans. Their biggest fear: the president will do what he considered in 2011, raise the eligibility age for Medicare. A top House Democrat Monday warned the White House to tread lightly. Rep. Jim McDermott says, "Now that would save a lot of money for the federal government and look good on the balance sheet and all the rest but he's not going to vote for it and I'm not going to vote for it. And a whole lot of other people aren't going to vote for it."