In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Reid To GOP: Drop Your Tax Extremism And We'll Deal With The Fiscal Cliff

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"Instead of addressing this fiscal cliff, President Obama and Congress have spent much of the past year advancing misguided redistributionist policies in the name of fairness," the GOP senators wrote last Thursday. "The American people have made it clear that they are not interested in politically-motivated redistribution of wealth."

The so-called fiscal cliff, which triggers next January 1, includes the expiration of all the Bush tax cuts, automatic across-the-board spending cuts from last year's debt limit deal, as well as the lapsing unemployment benefits and a significant reduction in Medicare physician reimbursement rates.

Economists fret that the failure to act to prevent that sequence of events could seriously harm the recovery, a possibility lawmakers overwhelmingly want to avert. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) raised the stakes last week by re-issuing his ultimatum from last year that the next increase in the debt limit -- timed roughly to the fiscal cliff -- be paired with dollar-for-dollar debt reduction.

But for now, the bickering amounts to little more than election-year political positioning. Legislators openly admit that no serious action will be taken before the lame-duck session, and the outcome of any agreement will likely be molded by the outcome in November.