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Obama-Boehner Dilemma

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There are less than two weeks left for the Obama Administration and Congress to reach a deal to avoid the Fiscal Cliff.

There are clearly two games going on here - one is purely political (who gets the credit and who gets the blame) and the other is actual deal making.

Both sides have already moved from their original positions - it is clear the Republicans will need to participate in raising revenue and Democrats will have to participate in some sort of entitlement reform - now there is a bit of a stalemate as they try to move the last few inches toward the goal line.

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on Sunday to attempt to make some progress!

The Fiscal Cliff has many components and depending on which party you belong to all or only some of these issues need to be addressed at this time - increasing tax revenues, reforming the tax code, reducing spending, raising revenues, adding stimulus, raising the debt ceiling, extending tax breaks for the middle class, extending unemployment benefits and the list goes on.

There are many possible solutions however, each one comes with a different political price.

If the Republicans raise tax rates they will pay a heavy price in the Midterm elections.

There has even been some talk that Speaker John Boehner could loose his gavel - he actually needs to be re-elected to that position on or about 3 January.

Boehner and his GOP steering committee ousted four conservatives from their committee leadership positions.

There are others waiting in the wings and chomping at the bit for a chance at this position - Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin Smith just to name two.

If Obama fails to raise rates on the wealthiest individuals he will disappoint his base.

Congress could pass an interim 'patch extension' of the status quo to get them beyond year end - they could reach a small compromise on taxes and entitlements or a big compromise. Who knows?

If the Republicans don't get entitlements cuts now - they believe it will never happen.

If Democrats don't get tax increases now - they believe this will never happen.

Both parties are calculating who will be blamed if they fail however, everyone will be hurt if they fail to compromise.

Additionally, there are some Members on both sides who believe going off the Fiscal Cliff is a viable option that could improve their bargaining power.

Unfortunately those who think this way are very wrong.

Obama needs to be careful not to overplay his hand - if he does and the US Economy falls off the Fiscal Cliff back into recession, it will be President Barack Obama who will be held responsible.

No more George W. Bush to blame for the country's economic mess.

President Obama now owns the economy and it is his job to 'right the ship' or the failure to do so will be his Legacy.

In the meantime, if the Republicans fail to meet him part of the way they can be sure that the voters will show their displeasure with them in the 2014 Midterms.

With so many possibilities for reaching a compromise the risks of not reaching a deal seem unacceptable under the circumstances.

Despite what some have said, the financial markets have not taken falling off the Fiscal Cliff into account in current market pricing - they are all actually expecting Congress to cut a deal.

Be aware, if the US government takes this fall and the credit rating agencies downgrade US debt again, this will automatically increase the debt making it even harder to get it under control.

This post also appeared on Sky News.

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