Louisiana delegation heads to Washington to deal with fiscal cliff
Don Ames Reporting
The December 31st Fiscal Cliff deadline is approaching and no deal appears to be on the horizon.
Louisiana's House delegation will head to Washington D-C to convene for a rare Sunday night session to act on any last minute legislation offered by either President Obama or the Senate.
The U-S House could vote on legislation so the federal government can avoid the fiscal cliff, which is a series of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to go into effect in 2013. It would mean 109 billion-dollars in budget cuts and 600 billion dollars in tax hikes.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany speaks for the state's Congressional delegation when he says its unlikely that the cliff can be avoided.
"It's likely that we'll go beyond the December 31st deadline, and we'll take legislation up early in January and make it retroactive. I think that's probably the most likely scenario."
Boustany lays most of the blame for the current impasse on Senator Harry Reed and the democratically controlled Senate.
"We pushed hard to address this in the House back during the summer months to avert this type of problem at the very end of the year," says Boustany. "And, the Senate has just repeatedly failed to move forward on legislation and that's just unacceptable."
Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise agrees that its almost impossible to avoid the deadline at this late date, but he says the House will be ready to help take action to minimize the impact on taxpayers.
"Whatever is done will be made retroactive, so most people will be safe from any tax increases, even if they go up for a few days at the beginning of the year and then it's fixed and it's made retroactive. So, ultimately, nobody will pay more taxes below a certain level."
Scalise says not all aspects of the fiscal cliff are negative. He says the automatic spending cuts are a good start to reducing the size of the Federal budget.
Scalise says it about time for Washington to learn to live within its means.
"Forty cents of every dollar that Washington spends is borrowed money," says Scalise. "And, you look at some of these federal agencies over the last few years that have seen double digit increases. I mean, families have been cutting back and Washington's been on a spending spree. It's time for that to change."
If there's a last-minute deal struck, there could be a senate vote Sunday or Monday with the House to follow.