“Fiscal Cliff” is no longer in the distance for policymakers

“Fiscal Cliff” is no longer in the distance for policymakers

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp quietly huddled with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Wednesday morning about the so-called fiscal cliff.

The meeting marks an uptick in discussions between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans in gaming out the year-end expiration of all income tax rates, the hiking of the nation’s borrowing cap and massive cuts to domestic and Pentagon spending set to kick in at the beginning of 2013.

Camp wouldn’t discuss the details of the meeting with reporters.

“We meet from time to time,” he said. “Frankly, if I wasn’t meeting with the secretary, I think there’d be an issue.”

The debate over tax rates won’t begin in earnest until after the election. Mitt Romney has said he would extend all rates, while President Barack Obama said he’d allow high-income tax rates to snap back to 39.6 percent — the rate during the Clinton administration.

Ways and Means also has a rare bipartisan meeting Thursday to discuss year-end business.

The meeting was not on the Treasury Department’s daily guidance, and was not made public by the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Just two Secret Service officers stood outside Camp’s Capitol office Wednesday morning.

The Senate Finance Committee is having its own high-level meetings Wednesday. Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) invited Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Congressional Budget Director Doug Elmendorf to speak to the panel.

Geithner and Camp (R-Mich.) will be two of the biggest players in Washington over the next several months, as Congress wrestles with tax rates on all Americans. Geithner is widely expected to leave his post if President Barack Obama wins reelection, but Camp would remain atop Ways and Means. Camp would be one of the foremost figures in a rewriting of the Tax Code — something Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has long been aiming for.

Source: Politico