By Ramsey Cox
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday introduced a bill he said would “soften the landing” if the nation went over the “fiscal cliff.”
Manchin said his bill, the Cliff Alleviation at the Last Minute Act, — the CALM Act — would slowly phase in the tax rate increases and allow the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to propose substitute cuts to replace sequestration.
“If we’re determined to go over the cliff, we’ve got to do something to soften the landing, because at the bottom of the fiscal cliff are immediate and massive tax increases, deep and indiscriminate spending cuts, and the risk of another recession,” Manchin said on the floor Sunday.
He added that he was not “excited about or proud to offer” the bill, describing it as “merely a better plan than going over the cliff.”
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Manchin said his bill would “soften the financial blow of the fiscal cliff,” as well as “calm out financial markets” and more time to “pursue the fiscal grand bargain that has eluded us.”
The bill would phase January’s tax rate increases over the course of three years. In addition, it would grant OMB “the flexibility to recommend what agencies and accounts to cut,” he said.
Manchin said that if OMB failed to do the job then the slated sequestration cuts would go into effect. Furthermore, Congress would have the “final word” on any changes to sequestration. “OMB’s decisions can be overridden by a joint resolution,” he added.
Negotiations between Reid and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on a fiscal deal hit a roadblock on how to offset $109 billion of automatic spending cuts.
If no agreement is reached Reid said he would bring to the floor a default bill that extends the Bush-era income tax rates for families earning less than $250,000 and extends unemployment benefits.
“This is not a time for politicking and partisan games,” Manchin said. “Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to the American economy is our American Congress.”