Congress could settle on a two month extension

Jill Schlesinger Dec 16, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Congress as early as today could vote on a spending plan to keep the government in business. Lawmakers agreed to a deal late yesterday. They’re also working on a plan to extend the payroll tax cut for a year. But they could settle for a two month extension while negotiations go on. There’re lots of moving parts in the rush to pass the a spending plan.

And Jill Schlesinger is editor-at-large with CBS/MoneyWatch. She’s with us live from New York as she is every Friday morning. Hey Jill.

Jill Schlesinger: Good morning.

Chiotakis: The fact that this government shutdown threat didn’t last very long — do you think that’s going to boost market confidence?

Schlesinger: I wouldn’t go crazy — it’s more of a relief than a full-fledged confidence booster. I guess now economists and investors have reprieve; they can enjoy the holidays. And then they can just get back to what they love to fret over: Europe.

Chiotakis: There you go. But we have a lot of stuff here, domestically, that needs wrapping up by year’s end. Payroll tax cuts, I mentioned; unemployment benefit extension — is that stuff going to get done, do you think?

Schlesinger: I think it is. Lawmakers are, as you said, preparing this plan B, where if they don’t reach the long-term agreement in the coming days, they will go for this two month extension. That will cost over $40 billion over 10 years. It’s a lot easier to find $40 billion than the full extension, which is $200 billion.

But you know, beyond the payroll tax, the extension of the unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed — there have been very few details about how to pay for that or how to pay for a scheduled cut in Medicare payments to doctors. You know, Congress never disappoints. They love to go right to the mat, to the bitter end, and drag us down there with them.

Chiotakis: Jill Schlesinger with CBS/MoneyWatch. Jill, thanks.

Schlesinger: Take care.

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