WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2012 – Another Sunday, another day of political finger pointing on the Sunday morning talk shows, with little indication that progress is being made on addressing the combination of looming tax increases and budget cuts that’s been dubbed the “fiscal cliff.”

However, Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff and co-chairman of the

National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010, says he is still optimistic about a deal getting done.

“I’m a little more encouraged than I would have been if you would have asked me a week ago,” Bowles said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He noted that both sides have taken positions that differ from some of the hardened stances they had previously expressed on raising new revenue and cutting entitlements. But he said more compromise is needed.

“We were going through the kabuki theater, one side making an offer and the other side rejecting it. That's natural in any deal," Bowles told host Bob Schieffer. "But you know, they have started to tango now and any time you got two guys in there tangoing, you got a chance to get it done.”

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, who co-chaired the deficit commission with Bowles, said both he and Bowles believe taxes will go up for the wealthiest Americans. But it won’t be enough to address the nation’s deficit unless spending cuts are also part of the package.

“I think Erskine and I both agree that if anybody out there who is, quote, rich doesn’t think their taxes go up, the drinks are on me, I’ll cover it,” Simpson said.

“Even if you raise the top rates back to the Clinton rates, that only creates $400 billion over 10 years,” Bowles emphasized. “That’s $40 billion a year. We got a trillion dollar a year deficit. That alone won’t solve the problem.”

In the meantime, work on including the farm bill as a budgetary offset in the fiscal cliff negotiations continues.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. told farm broadcasters in California that differences in the commodity title are holding up farm bill negotiations.

“Some people say that what’s hanging this bill up are the food stamps. That’s not true, that’s going to be resolved, but we do have significant differences in the commodity title,” he said. “I’ve been having a hard time getting members to get to the table.”

“At this point we’re not going to have to time to do this in regular order,” Peterson said, adding that if a farm bill is compromised, it will have to ride on the back of whatever agreement the president and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, devise.

For other scheduled events this week, see the list below.

Monday, December 10, 2012

2:00 p.m., The Senate meets for speeches, and at 5 p.m., senators will take up S. 3637, which would extends the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program. TAG was created during the financial crisis, and provides government guarantees for non-interest-bearing bank accounts used by small companies and municipalities.

5:30 p.m., the Senate will hold a roll call vote on a motion to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12:00 p.m., The House meets at noon for speeches and 2 p.m. for legislative work, including a motion to go to conference on H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act. Last week, the Senate approved its version, S. 3254.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10:00 a.m., Hearing: Hearing entitled “Challenges Facing the U.S. Capital Markets to Effectively Implement Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act,” Host: Committee on Financial Services | Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, 2128 Rayburn HOB

10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Energy, hearings to examine tax reform and Federal energy policy, focusing on incentives to promote energy efficiency, SD-215.

10:00:, the House meets for speeches and noon for legislative work on Wednesday.

Work on these days will consist of up to eight suspension bills:

1) H.R. 6190 - Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2) H.R. 5817 - Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer / Financial Services Committee) 

3) S. 3542 - No-Hassle Flying Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar / Homeland Security Committee)

4) S. 1998 - DART Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown / Homeland Security Committee)

5) H.R. 6364 - Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act, to be amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

6) H.R. 4053 - Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Towns / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

7) S. 3315 - GAO Mandates Revision Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

8) S. 1379 - D.C. Courts and Public Defender Service Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

9:00 a.m., The House meets to complete any unfinished work.

9:00 a.m., Hearing: Dodd-Frank Derivatives Reform: Challenges Facing U.S. and International Markets, Host: Committee on Agriculture | Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, 1300 Longworth HOB

9:00 a.m., Hearing: Hearing entitled “Examining the Impact of the Volcker Rule on Markets, Businesses, Investors and Job Creation, Part II,” Host: Committee on Financial Services | Full Committee, 2128 Rayburn HOB

Friday, December 14, 2012

The House is not in session. The House was originally scheduled to complete legislative work by the end of this week, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House will now be in next week.


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