The fiscal cliff has ensured that President Obama cut short his traditional holiday to his birth state, with the White House announcing Tuesday, that the President would return sans his family on Wednesday night to recommence talks that could help avert the fiscal cliff.
The President will leave Hawaii by 10 pm on Wednesday and be in Washington by noon, the following day to make last moment attempts to find middle ground to the tax and spending disagreement that remains obstinately unsolved.
Usually the President vacations till the New Year’s Day, but this time he can ill afford to do so, with a fiscal deal nowhere in sight, it would have disastrous public relation problems for him. Time was certainly not on his side, as the Dec. 31 cut-off date was less than a week away.
Inability to meet it would mean an expiration of the Bush-era tax rates and the 2011 budget agreement and would lead to automatic, all-encompassing spending cuts and tax increases. This could have disastrous consequences for the economy with the country being pushed back into a recession, barely having recovered from one.
The President had last met with congressional leaders on Friday. Speaking to reporters, before embarking on his holiday, he hoped that all parties would use the Christmas holiday break to “cool off,” indicating that a fresher less combative approach to help resolve the issue, when Congress meets again on Thursday would perhaps end the stalemate.
At one time it appeared that Obama and Boehner were breaking the impasse but then the latter had a change of mind and felt that his Plan-B was perhaps a better solution. This would have extended existing current rates on all, save households earning a minimum of $ 1 million a year.
Over the rather brief holiday, the President has been playing golf, going on hikes and exercising on a military base. Even as he has had to curtail his holiday, his family will continue to stay at their rented house near Honolulu. The President may return if a deal is reached soon.
Yesterday the family spent the morning opening presents and singing Christmas carols. In the afternoon, he along with first lady Michelle went to the nearby Marine Corps base where they posed with service members and their families and expressed their appreciation for all that they were doing and had done for the country.
He extolled them for their sacrifices and extraordinary work and said that it was not only those who wore the military uniforms but also their families who made the sacrifices. He said that the country is “still in a wartime footing” considering that there were many Americans stationed in Afghanistan and there were others who would soon be deployed in those alien terrains.
In the evening the Obama’s and their friends will have dinner together at their home and in all probability will organize their time-honored talent show. Michelle Obama said that during the show, everyone will put some gifts into a bag and then take out a number. Each member would have to display his talent in the best way he or she can, by singing, telling a joke, impersonating someone or dancing or doing anything else. The idea was to have a great time and make Christmas all the more enjoyable and memorable, she said.