CAPITOL HILL — U.S. lawmakers are heading home for the Christmas holidays without any agreement or even a clear path forward on a way to avoid a combination of massive tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. The entire process came to a standstill late Thursday, when the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, was unable to muster enough votes in his own Republican caucus for a bill that would only have raised taxes on incomes of $1 million a year.
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Obamas arrive in Hawaii for Christmas vacation
President Barack Obama and his family have arrived in Honolulu to spend Christmas in Hawaii, where the president was born and raised.
Air Force One touched down in Honolulu minutes after midnight and the motorcade was underway to the first family’s Kailua vacation home at about 12:26 a.m.
The president and the first family do not have any public scheduled events while they are in the islands, but Oahu motorists should expect unannounced delays as the presidential motorcade travels around the island.
OBAMA URGENCY TAKES A BREAK…‘Cool off, drink some egg nog, sing some carols’…
Obama said he hoped that the coming holiday break would give all parties in the fiscal cliff debate some “perspective,” telling members of Congress to “cool off, drink some egg nog, sing some carols” and eat Christmas cookies. Obama and his family will leave for Hawaii at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
“Now’s not the time for more self-inflicted wounds. Certainly not those coming from Washington,” Obama said. “Think about the hardship that so many Americans will endure if Congress does nothing at all.”
Obama’s statement came a day after a setback to John Boehner, who proposed a “Plan B” alternative after he became frustrated with the pace of negotiations with the White House earlier in the week. Boehner failed to garner enough support to bring Plan B to a vote on Thursday.
STOCKS SCARE ON ‘CLIFF’
Stocks slumped nearly 1 percent on Friday, but closed off the worst levels of the session, after a Republican plan to avert the “fiscal cliff”fell apart, raising fears a deal will not be reached before the end of the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 120.88 points, or 0.91 percent, led by losses in shares of Bank of America and Disney. At its worst levels, the Dow was down 189 points. American Express and McDonald’s posted gains.
The S&P 500 dropped 13.54 points, or 0.94 percent, while the Nasdaq fell 29.38 points, or 0.96 percent. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, climbed toward 18.
Among S&P sectors, energy and financials were the worst performers.
All the major averages still finished higher for the week. The S&P 500 gained 1.2 percent, the Dow rose 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq was up 1.7 percent.
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