WASHINGTON (AP) - The top Senate negotiators on the effort to prevent the government from going over the "fiscal cliff" offered a pessimistic assessment today barely 24 hours before a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every worker.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he's yet to receive a response to an offer he made on Saturday evening to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the top Democratic negotiator. The Kentucky Republican said he's reached out to Vice President Joe Biden in hopes of breaking the impasse and a McConnell spokesman confirmed the two have spoken.
Despite indications of progress in the negotiations, Democrats said Republicans were proposing to slow future cost of living increases for Social Security recipients as part of a compromise to avoid the cliff. Democrats rejected the idea.
"I'm concerned with the lack of urgency here. There's far too much at stake," McConnell said. "There is no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point - the sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest or courage to close the deal."
Reid said he has been trying to come up with a counteroffer but has been unable to do so. He said he's been in frequent contact with President Barack Obama, who in a televised interview blamed Republicans for putting the nation's shaky economy at risk.