by CHARLES BABINGTON (AP)
big coalition of business groups says there must be give-and-take in the negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of massive tax increases and spending cuts. But raising tax rates - a White House priority - is out of the question, the group adds.
The homebuilding industry says it won't tolerate even a nick in the mortgage interest deduction. It doesn't matter, industry leaders say, if it's part of a broad, spread-the-pain package designed to tame the soaring debt.
And there's no ambiguity in the views of the top lobbying arm for retirees.
"AARP to Washington: No cuts to Medicare and Social Security in last-minute budget deal" the group's Web site declares. AARP nixes the notion of slowing the cost-of-living formula for Social Security recipients, even if it's part of a big, bipartisan compromise package. And President Barack Obama should drop his idea of raising Medicare's eligibility age, AARP adds.
So much for the notion of shared sacrifice as Congress and the White House face a Dec. 31 deadline to craft a far-reaching deficit-reduction plan. If they fail, the government tips over the so-called fiscal cliff, at least for a time. Nearly everyone's taxes will rise, and federal programs will be whacked. Financial markets might quake, and a new recession could begin, economists say.
In Washington, meanwhile, it's virtually every group for itself, scrambling to protect 100 percent of each tax break and government payout it now enjoys. [MORE]