DENVER (CBS4) – The end game is near and lawmakers have shown no signs they’re ready to vote on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
On Friday President Barack Obama made an 11th hour appeal for a stopgap. He wants no tax increases for Americans making less than $250,000 per year and everything else can wait until after the new year. But he warned Congress the country’s patience is running thin.
“This is deja vu all over again. America is wondering why it is in this town, for some reason, you can’t get stuff done in an organized time table,” Obama said.
Mike Cummings, a professor of political science at the University of Colorado Denver, says the dysfunction and discord in Washington is as bad now as he’s ever seen. The finger-pointing goes straight to the U.S. Capitol, where gridlock rules while time runs out.
“People can’t put their political agendas aside in order to do what’s necessary for the people of this country,” a woman said.
“Put the people before your own politics and do the right thing,” a man said.
Cummings says neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are united, and both parties fear compromise.
“They’re seen as sell-outs if they compromise. Compromise has become a bad word,” Cummings said.
And they don’t need to compromise to win re-election.
“Both Democrats and Republicans tend to come from safe districts that have been gerrymandered to favor extremists within the party,” Cumming said. “Part of it is posturing, part of it is bluffing, but part of it is real ideological differences.”
He believes if Congress does nothing, the fiscal cliff fears will happen as predicted.
“Professional economists in general think that we would be headed back into a recession if this is allowed to occur, with massive cuts and everybody’s taxes increasing,” Cummings said. “It would be a disaster.”
But his instinct is that an agreement of some sort will be reached.
“I’m not going to go to Las Vegas with this, but I think if they’re slightly smart, which we hope they are, they’ll work something out and avoid a fiscal cliff.”
Cummings thinks something close to the president’s proposed stopgap measure will be what passes. But he also adds, whatever the outcome, there will be consequences for members of Congress come November.
Millions of Americans are also set to lose long-term jobless benefits in the coming week if no deal is reached. That could mean nearly half of the people unemployed longer than six months will lose their benefits.