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Congress: Cliff diving

The Hill: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he’s telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.

The AP’s Babington: “Congress’ hectic resolution of the ‘fiscal cliff’ crisis is the latest in a long series of decisions by lawmakers and the White House to do less than promised — and to ask Americans for little sacrifice — in confronting the nation’s burgeoning debt.”

USA Today’s Davis: “Partisan divisions and brinksmanship politics defined the outgoing Congress right up to the final scramble to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff.’ The last-ditch deal dodged income-tax hikes for nearly all Americans and delayed for two months spending cuts for the Pentagon and domestic programs. Still, the compromise didn't solve, or even seriously address, the deficit problems that prompted Congress to write the laws that nearly forced the nation over the cliff in the first place.”

AP: “While the tax package that Congress passed New Year’s Day will protect 99 percent of Americans from an income tax increase, most of them will still end up paying more federal taxes in 2013. That’s because the legislation did nothing to prevent a temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from expiring. In 2012, that 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax was worth about $1,000 to a worker making $50,000 a year.”

Michael Hirsch: “Crazies. Cliff divers. Nihilists. Nutjobs. Those are just a few of the descriptions being applied to the 151 House Republicans who broke with Speaker John Boehner—they included his own supposed wing men, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Whip Kevin McCarthy—to vote against the fiscal cliff deal Tuesday night. In truth, what the fine print of the bill demonstrates is that the Republicans who refused to vote for the fiscal compromise had every right to be disgusted by it—that is, if you expect legislators to hold true at all to the beliefs that inspired them to run for office in the first place. The last-minute deal exposed Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as creatures of the old system, and it ripped the scab off whatever healing had occurred between the Republican traditionalists and the tea partiers since then. Make no mistake: The divide within the GOP will continue, demonstrating that the tea-party rebellion lives on in the new House.” 

Beth Reinhard: “Lumped together as two of the youngest and brightest Republican stars, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio parted ways on the fiscal cliff with votes that reflect divergent strategies for building their party and political futures.”