WASHINGTON (AP) - A last-gasp effort Thursday to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts got off on the same convulsive, partisan tone that marked congressional attempts to resolve the impasse before lawmakers left Washington to go home for Christmas.
With a Dec. 31 deadline for an agreement to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" rapidly approaching, leaders in each party demanded the other side take the initiative. The new flare-up happened despite a round of calls that President Barack Obama made to congressional leaders by phone Wednesday night from Hawaii before he boarded Air Force One to head home from vacation.
The market was glum, with stocks falling for the fourth day in a row amid the stalled negotiations and a report that consumer confidence had plunged to its lowest level since August.
Obama's plane landed in late morning at a suburban Maryland Air Force base, not long after Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to chastise House Republicans who last week opposed Speaker John Boehner's efforts to pass a narrowly crafted bill. Boehner's "Plan B" would have raised tax rates only on the very wealthiest Americans. But the opposition within his own party caucus forced the Ohio Republican to cancel a vote on the bill.
Photos from the New York Post and Tax Foundation.