Fiscal cliff chaos confuses Congress

Tease the day: Boehner’s ’Plan B’ goes down in flames, way forward is unclear
Nick Taylor-Vaisey
AP/Jacquelyn Martin

Larry Summers made everything sound so simple—not easy, but simple—when he spoke about the fiscal cliff at the Chateau Laurier last month. Way back in early November, Summers was hopeful that Congress and the White House could hammer out some kind of deal to save their country from deep recession. There seemed to be so much time to work things out. That was then, of course.

This morning, we learn about the newest chaos in Washington, D.C., a rapid-fire series of unfortunate events that have Congressmen throwing their hands in the air as they head out of town for a brief Christmas reprieve. House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama had been edging closer to a deal, but Boehner suffered a major defeat last night. He’d hoped the House of Representatives could vote on and pass his proposal, dubbed Plan B, that would have raised taxes on millionaires. Boehner couldn’t muster enough support in his own party for the measure, so a vote was never held. Not that it would have mattered, since Senate majority leader Harry Reid said the Senate wouldn’t have passed the bill. The way forward is far from clear.

Congressmen weren’t exactly inspired by the events. “Don’t make me lie to you … I have no idea what is happening,” one told Bloomberg after last night’s confusion, which came about after eastern print deadlines. The Globe and Mail and National Post both front the news online this morning. As Canadian politics winds down until 2013, get ready for the American scene to heat up.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the Supreme Court’s ruling that witnesses can wear niqabs during testimony. The National Post fronts a trifecta of “religion and society” stories, including yesterday’s niqab ruling. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the news that the world didn’t end this morning. The Ottawa Citizen leads with critics of a new Aboriginal land claim deal in eastern Ontario. iPolitics fronts a study that suggests the Arctic could be re-frozen, but wonders if it’s worth it. leads with winter storms in Ontario and Quebec. National Newswatch showcases a Canadian Press story about Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau’s insistence that he’s not just a nice guy, and he won’t finish last.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Charitable inmates. Federal prisoners all over Canada have donated $129,000 to over 130 charities in the last two years, including $4,000 to a school lunch program.2. KhadrRehabilitation and parole won’t likely come for Omar Khadr, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee serving a sentence in a prison west of Kingston, Ont., for at least two years.
3. Terror list. The feds added a faction of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to its list of recognized terror groups, and removed another Iranian group, the People’s Mujahedin.4. Passports. The cost of a five-year Canadian passport is set to rise by $33 next year, to $120—a move made necessary by rising operational costs and security enhancements.