Playing Chicken With Our Economic Future …

U.S. President Barack Obama departs Honolulu, Hawaii December 26, 2012, for a return trip to Washington. REUTERS/Larry Downing

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama was flying back to Washington on Thursday and the top Republican in Congress planned to speak with House of Representatives lawmakers as the clock ticked toward a year-end deadline for action to avert the looming “fiscal cliff” tax hikes and spending cuts.

Markets around the world awaited action in Washington to prevent tax hikes on nearly all Americans and the deep automatic government spending cuts due to kick in at the beginning of next month that could push the U.S. economy back into recession.

Such action, however, remained far from certain, with Republicans and Democrats each insisting the other side move first amid continuing partisan gridlock.

Air Force One carrying Obama from Hawaii took off at about 3 a.m. EST for a journey that can take nearly half a day.

The U.S. Senate was scheduled to meet later on Thursday but on matters unrelated to the “fiscal cliff.” The Democrats control the Senate and theRepublicans control the House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said through a spokesman that the Senate was ready to consider any bills coming from the House but would take no action on its own. (Read more here.)

  • Manny

    This is a failure of leadership all around. There should never have a fiscal cliff deal a year or so ago. That was so Obama could go into his re-election without having made any hard decisions. And since the election, the only rhetoric I hear is Obama bullying the Republicans. Is that how you get to a negotiated deal? No. Republicans have naturally recoiled. And really what kind of a Senate is this that has gone three years wiothout a budget? This is a catastrophic failure in leadership, and there is only one leader at a time. When Ronald Reagan negotiated with his Democratic House, he gave them a certain deference. Yes he had to give up spending restraints, but a leader gives up things to maintain stability, a greater good than ideological purity. Obama’s bullying and egocentristic insistence has been the very opposite. There is no humility in this president.

    • Ted Seeber

      The fiscal cliff deal was TEN years ago. Obama has been putting it off, but it was the intent of the Republicans all along to “starve the beast”.