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Tag Archives: fiscal cliff

Republicans Have a Good Laugh Over Obama Budget Offer

Republicans leaders today signalled they are not the least bit interested in President Obama’s proposal to temporarily put off the March 1 fiscal cliff with some spending cuts and tax increases.

In a sign the GOP plans to start playing a little rough and damn a few of the public relations torpedoes, top Republicans asserted today that Obama will not be taken seriously until he addresses spending in a somewhat more sober matter.

“I’m flabbergasted,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon told POLITICO ahead of the president’s speech. “Until he addresses the real problem, which is mandatory spending, he’s just whistling in the wind.

House Speaker John Boehner also prebutted Obama’s remarks, made early this afternoon in the White House briefing room, seeming to suggest that entitlement cuts – the only kind that can get the nation to a balanced budget – must be on the table instead of quick fixes.

“The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years,” he said.

Obama in his remarks prescribed a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to kick the problem down the road a little further. The president desperately wants to get budget issues off the table so he can focus on his top priority, immigration reform.

“So if Congress can’t act immediately on a bigger package, if they can’t get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe that they should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with a smarter solution,” he said.

BTW, tax reform apparently now means tax increases in the White House lexicon.

Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the GOP chairman of the tax writing committee, released a statement rejecting Obama’s suggestion that taxes be raised.

“Tax reform should be about making the code simpler and fairer for American families and helping employers create more jobs,” he said. “The president’s proposal is nothing more than another tax hike to pay for more Washington spending. That is not what America needs.”

Obama to Call for Fiscal Cliff Delay

President Obama will call for a small package of spending cuts and tax increases to delay going over the next fiscal cliff.

The automatic, across the board cuts were delayed from their previous due date at the beginning of this year and are now scheduled to take effect March 1.

Obama will announce his proposal during an appearance at the White House at 1:15 pm ET. I will live stream it for you. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s briefing will immediately follow Obama’s remarks.

Top Ten Reasons 85 Republicans Backed the Fiscal Cliff Bill

After extensive interviews in the Speaker’s lobby just off the floor of the House, White House Dossier was able to ascertain why 85 House Republicans voted for Fiscal cliff legislation that raised taxes but did almost nothing to cut spending.

What follows, based on these interviews, are the top ten reasons why some Republicans supported the legislation:

1. Obama threatened to take away their chocolate pudding

2. Pelosi told Republicans they had to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.

3. Grover Norquist reduced supporters’ penalty from a primary challenge to a brief spanking.

4. Last minute calls from Michelle promising to cut federal spending by taking three vacations this year instead of four.

5. Measure includes coded language handing the election to Romney.

6. Democrats arranged to allow deceased members of Congress to vote, including moderate Republicans.

7. Chris Christie, who took Obama’s side in the battle, defeated Eric Cantor in a hot dog eating contest.

8. Biden threatened to put Republicans “back in chains” – and make each one listen to him for an hour.

9. The bill includes new tax on character assassination by Obama against political opponents, which may raise more money than expected.

10. Republicans finally decided, “Yeah, stick it the rich, they didn’t build that!”


Have you done any reporting on this? Are there any reasons you’ve heard about? Or, in all seriousness, WHAT’S YOUR EXPLANATION? Because, I don’t have one.

Obama Uses Autopen to Sign Fiscal Cliff Bill

President Obama used his autopen late Wednesday to sign the Fiscal Cliff bill, a move that will raise questions in the minds of some about whether the legislation and the massive tax increases included in it have actually become law.

autopenObama was forced to use the autopen – by which a machine puts his signature to the document – because he fled Washington for Hawaii immediately after the House passed the legislation Tuesday night, even though he had not yet received the bill.

Since the law was designed to prevent Fiscal Cliff measures that were beginning to take effect, it was urgent that Obama sign it, and so he used to autopen rather to receive the actual bill in Hawaii.

Obama ordered the autopen into action after reviewing a copy of the bill, according to the White House

The Constitution states that the president must review and sign legislation if he wants it to become law. From Article I, Secton 7:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approves he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

A legal opinion written by the Justice Department under George W. Bush states that use of the autopen would have been fine with the Framers.

Neither the constitutional text nor the drafting and ratification debates provide further guidance regarding what it means for the President to “sign” a bill he approves . . .

However, the word “sign” had a generally understood legal meaning  that was well established at common law when the Constitution was drafted and ratified and that  continued throughout the Republic’s early years (and beyond). Under this well-settled legal  understanding, an individual could sign a document by directing that his signature be affixed to it  by another.

Obama first used the autopen to sign an extension of provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Obama Vows More Tax Increases

President Obama this morning pocketed the Republican concessions on tax hikes included in the Fiscal Cliff deal and promised that it was only the beginning of new taxation to be assessed on the American people.

Obama, who appeared in the White House briefing room Tuesday night to hail the deal, made clear to Republicans that he will continue to seek a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction – White House code for “balancing” spending cuts with raising taxes. Meanwhile, spending on Obama-blessed programs will continue to rise, he asserted:

We can’t simply cut our way to prosperity. Cutting spending has to go hand-in-hand with further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans. And we can’t keep cutting things like basic research and new technology and still expect to succeed in a 21st century economy. So we’re going to have to continue to move forward in deficit reduction, but we have to do it in a balanced way, making sure that we are growing even as we get a handle on our spending . . .

Today’s agreement enshrines, I think, a principle into law that will remain in place as long as I am President: The deficit needs to be reduced in a way that’s balanced. Everyone pays their fair share. Everyone does their part. That’s how our economy works best. That’s how we grow.

While the Fiscal Cliff’s automatic deficit reduction included both tax increases and spending cuts, the deal passed by Congress Tuesday night relied almost exclusively on tax increases to pare down the deficit. The massive Fiscal Cliff spending cuts that had been scheduled to take effect at the beginning of the year are still on tap, but have been delayed for two months.

But if Republicans thought that out of fairness and “balance” the focus would now be on trimming spending, Obama’s comments made clear that they are deluding themselves.

Having been rolled by Obama into accepting a massive tax increase, Republicans will again be pressured into embracing a “balanced” approach that cuts spending but also socks the “wealthy” for more revenues.

Republicans Continue to Cave

I love the reporting we’re seeing on the Fiscal Cliff. About what you’d expect. For the most part, it describes Democrats as being “flexible” by increasing the amount of income that won’t be subject to a tax increase.

And the press seems to be accepting the Democratic line that Republicans are trying to just ruin everything by pushing for spending cuts, and it was a “setback” when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to reduce Social Security benefits by proposing “chained CPI.”


Let’s try to understand what’s going on here.

The fiscal cliff was a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. But negotiations are centering on taxes. Republicans are being forced to accept a tax increase, but the minute they put serious spending cuts on the table, they are accused of trying to screw everything up.

In fact – hold on while I get my bandages to wrap around my head to prevent it from exploding . . . okay, there . . .


Thank goodness. Head didn’t explode. I hope yours didn’t either.

That’s right, they want to forget about the fiscal cliff cuts for a couple of years, and use the tax increase to fund another year of “EMERGENCY” unemployment benefits and to prevent doctors from getting less money for Medicare patients.

Even President Obama, bless his heart, says he’d be open to Social Security cuts. But that’s only because he was willing to do it once upon a time – it would look bad to say he was for it before he was against it – and because he knows Democrats will never go for it.

And so the focus of this deal will be on taxes, and the Democrats will accept the blessing of the press for being so eminently reasonable, and Republicans will


to Democrats and the Washington establishment.

Is Obama About to Roll Over the GOP?

You have to hand it to President Obama. He appears to be on the path to obtaining his tax increase on the rich and spending cuts that may never materialize, all while fitting in his Hawaii vacation.

Republicans, after failing to pass John Boehner-crafted legislation to raise taxes on those making more than $1 million, seem on the way to having to live with something worse.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. But here is what seems to be shaping up:

Boehner crying
That Obama is so mean!

Senate Republicans will cave first, with enough of them agreeing to pass legislation that increases tax rates on those making more than $400,000 or $500,000. Unemployment benefits are extended, and the estate tax goes up less than it would have. Meanwhile, agreement on an alternative to the spending cuts called for under the Fiscal Cliff scenario is probably put off until next year, with the Cliff cuts themselves either temporarily in effect or delayed.

This would pretty much be Obama Getting His Way.

The fault for this lies with Speaker Boehner and his utter failure of imagination. It’s the problem with Republicans these days in general and was the trouble with the Romney campaign in particular: The GOP, a home of intellectual ferment in the 1980s and 1990s, is now merely reactive.

Instead of his lazy attempt to pass tax increases for those making more than $1 million, Boehner should have put together a package that encompassed spending cuts and entitlement reform while keeping tax rates from rising.

That would have attracted solid GOP support, and perhaps even some Democrats, and given the country the message that Republicans are serious about averting the Fiscal Cliff and fixing the budget and, unlike Obama, have a plan to do it.

And then the pressure would have been on Obama, not the GOP.

Instead, like Romney, Boehner seems afraid the country won’t like Republicans if they embrace and promote a conservative agenda. So he waited around to see what Obama would do. And Obama did nothing except say, “Like my proposal, sucker.”

And now Boehner indeed might have to like it.

Obama Calls for Limited Tax Deal to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

President Obama today called on Congress to reach a deal that would raise taxes without including wide ranging spending cuts, saying Republicans must pass what they agree with Democrats on – protecting the middle class from having its tax rates increase.

“There is absolutely no reason – none – not to protect  (middle class) Americans from a tax hike,” Obama said during a hastily called appearance in the White House briefing room. “At the very least, let’s agree now on what we already agree on.”

Obama said lawmakers should relax for now, but return to Washington immediately once a deal is struck.

“Everybody can cool off – everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols,” Obama said.

However, reaching a deal that raises taxes on the wealthy would harm the economy, in the view of Republicans, and eliminate the leverage Republicans have to force large cuts in entitlement spending.

Obama’s move suggests he is upping the ante and will press the House to agree to legislation that raises taxes on those who make more than $250,000 per year, even though Republicans Thursday balked at a bill that would set the threshold at $1 million. Obama seems to be strategizing that he can either pick off some Republican lawmakers for the Democratic plan or have the country blame House Republicans if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff.

Obama said extensions of unemployment benefits should be part of the package.

Obama Invokes Newtown Massacre in Fiscal Cliff Debate

President Obama today said the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut last week should give Republicans a sense of “perspective” that would allow them to abandon what he suggested was an entirely politically-motivated opposition to his proposals for a deal on the fiscal cliff. “If there’s one thing we should have after this week, it should be… Continue Reading

Obama and Boehner Meet Again

President Obama and Speaker Boehner met in the Oval Office this evening to discuss the fiscal cliff. According to Politico, the meeting was convened at the request of Obama, lasted 50 minutes, and was also attended by Treasury Secretary Geithner. With little progress in the talks, Boehner had decided to return to Ohio for the… Continue Reading