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Congress: 'Cliff' diving?

The New York Daily News: “With the ‘fiscal cliff’ just four weeks away, partisan finger-pointing Sunday overshadowed substantive talk about how to avoid sharp tax increases and comprehensive spending cuts set to greet America in the new year.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on CNN: “Give us your full plan because as somebody who spent more time doing business deals than I have in politics, you lay out a term sheet.  Give us more details.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): “I think it's essentially a rerun of his budget proposal…  For the Speaker to come forward and put revenue on the table…that was very difficult.”

Question: How difficult was it really for Boehner to put “revenue” but not rates on the table. It was essentially what Mitt Romney proposed during his campaign – non-specific cuts to deductions and loopholes but with offsetting tax cuts. But that a formula – one that is supposedly “revenue neutral” is one dictated by Grover Norquist, not one subscribed to by the president and Democrats.

A Democratic aide to The Atlantic on who this comes down to: “The fate of a fiscal-cliff deal during the lame duck will probably rest with the ‘middle 80,’ the rank-and-file Republican members who have not accrued gavels or years of service, and who would be the most vulnerable to primary challenges. Will these Republicans take what is sure to be one of the toughest votes of their time in Washington? Or will they stick with Grover, Rush, and the Club for Growth and decide that no deal is better than a tough deal?”

Politico: “Democrats have said they can cut Medicare spending without touching seniors’ benefits. But here’s the reality: They can’t get several hundred billion dollars out of Medicare without at least some beneficiaries taking a hit.”

National Journal on “The Climate Cliff”: “Amid the glittering skyscrapers of Doha, capital of the arid, oil-rich Arab emirate of Qatar, 17,000 diplomats, delegates, nongovernmental organizations, and environmentalists are converging this week and next in the conference halls and backrooms of the 18th annual United Nations climate-change summit. Their goal: pave the way toward a world treaty, to be signed in 2015, aimed at slowing global emissions of heat-trapping fossil-fuel pollution enough to keep the planet’s temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s the point, scientists say, at which the Earth’s polar ice sheets will melt and many of the hottest and driest regions will no longer be able to grow food. The 2-degree mark will set off a chain of extreme reactions, starting with rapid sea-level rise, widespread flooding, more extreme weather events, food shortages, and price spikes.”

Beth Reinhard notes the reality of climate change and its causes and points toward Marco Rubio’s recent statements and the perception of the GOP not being a party of science: “[T]hese are matters of science, not opinion. One doesn’t have to be a scientist, or even a telegenic member of the Senate Science Committee, to know that. If Rubio wants to be the man to rebrand the GOP, he should stick to the facts.”