Tell Congress: Do The Math, Do Your Job

1470_people_made $million_paid_0_taxes_In_2009

Reforming the Tax Code

The tax code has become increasingly complicated and unfair. Under today’s tax laws, those who can afford expert advice can avoid paying their fair share and interests with the most connected lobbyists can get exemptions and special treatment written into our tax code. While many of the tax incentives serve important purposes, taken together the tax expenditures in the law are inefficient, unfair, duplicative, or even unnecessary. In fact, because our corporate tax system is so riddled with special interest loopholes, our system has one of the highest statutory tax rates among developed countries to generate about the same amount of corporate tax revenue as our developed country partners as a share of our economy; this, in turn, hurts our competitiveness in the world economy.

That is why the President is calling on the Congress to enact comprehensive tax reform that meets the following five principles:

To begin the national conversation about tax reform, the President has offered a detailed set of tax loophole closers and measures to broaden the tax base that. These measures include: cutting tax preferences for high-income households; eliminating special tax breaks for oil and gas companies; closing the carried interest loophole for investment fund managers; and eliminating benefits for those who buy corporate jets.

Tax reform should draw on these items, together with the elimination of additional inefficient tax breaks, to finance the reduction of marginal rates and meet the President’s other tax principles, including the Buffett Rule. In the absence of fundamental tax reform, the President believes these measures should be enacted on a standalone basis, along with permanent extension of the middle class 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. This would be an important step toward a tax system that is consistent with the President’s principles.

1. Lower tax rates.Lower tax rates.
The tax system should be simplified and work for all Americans with lower individual and corporate tax rates and fewer brackets.

2. Cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade through tax reform, including the expiration of tax cuts for single taxpayers making over $200,000 and married couples making over $250,000.

2. Increase job creation and growth in the United States.

4. Make America stronger at home and more competitive globally by increasing the incentive to work and invest in the United States.

5. Observe the Buffett Rule.
As multi-billionaire Warren Buffet has pointed out, his average tax rate is lower than his secretary’s. No household making over $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of their total income in taxes than middle-class families. This rule will be achieved as part of overall reform that increases the progressivity of the tax code.

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/reform/tax-reform

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Americans Back Obama Tax-Rate Boost Tied to Entitlements

Dec 12, 2012 5:00 PM PT By Julie Hirschfeld Davis – bloomberg

A majority of Americans say President Barack Obama is right to demand that tax-rate increases for the highest earners be a precondition for a budget deal that cuts U.S. entitlement programs, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

Just over half say Obama and Democrats are more on their side in the debate over taxes and government spending than House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans, in a survey conducted Dec. 7-10 that suggests the president has broad public backing for his stance in the deficit-reduction talks.

While Americans are divided over solutions to avoid spending cuts and tax increases slated to take effect in January if no deal is reached, majorities want the wealthy to bear the burden of such a compromise. And while more than half say Republicans were right initially to sign a pledge never to raise taxes, that includes about one-third who say things have changed and lawmakers should back away from the promise.

The results indicate a sense of urgency among Americans for an accord between Obama and Congress to avert a fiscal crisis, and a willingness to make sacrifices to strike a deal.

J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Co., the Des Moines, Iowa, firm that conducted the poll, says the findings encapsulate American views on the fiscal debate.

“Obama won the election promising to raise taxes on the wealthy,” Selzer says. “Republicans who refuse to budge from their pledge not to raise taxes are wrong-headed. Failure to strike a deal would put the national economy and the people who live in it at risk.”

For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-13/americans-back-obama-tax-rate-increase-tied-to-entitlement-cuts.html

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US Fiscal Cliff Status

12/27/12 

* President Obama arrives back early to the White House from his holiday recess for a special session on the fiscal cliff crisis

* US Senate lawmakers return to Capitol Hill from their holiday recess for a special session on the fiscal cliff crisis

Obama seeks deal as US ‘fiscal cliff’ looms

Published on Dec 27, 2012 Tom Ackerman –  Al Jazeera

President Barack Obama has cut short his holiday and was returning to Washington as no deal appeared in sight to avoid the year-end “fiscal cliff” of higher taxes and deep spending cuts that could spin the still-fragile economy back into a recession.

The US treasury secretary warned on Thursday that the government would hit its borrowing limit on Monday, the final day of the year.

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12/30/12

* US House of Representatives lawmakers return to Capitol Hill from their holiday recess for a special session on the fiscal cliff crisis

Democrat House of Representatives -

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today during Pro Forma session to urge House Republican leaders to call the House back into session.  

Published on Dec 27, 2012

“We are in Pro Forma session. Pro Forma session is a session without substance or solutions.

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GOP House of Representative members were told Thursday (12/27/12) to return to Washington Sunday night (12/30/12) –with only hours remaining to avoid the Dec. 31 (2012) fiscal cliff deadline.

GOP House Leader Eric Cantor Fiscal Cliff Tweet

12/31/12 

House of Representatives won’t vote before midnight (12/31/12) on ‘cliff’ deal

No Budget Vote Means Tax Increases Start

Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to TELL THEM TO GET BACK & START WORKING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA to HELP AMERICA’S RECOVERY!!

U.S. Senators
U.S. Representatives

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***UPDATE ***

Congress Passes and Sends “Fiscal Cliff Deal” 

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January 01, 2013

Statement from the President on the Senate Deal to Extend Middle Class Tax Cuts

Leaders from both parties in the Senate came together to reach an agreement that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support today that protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners from a middle class tax hike. While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay.

This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way – by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.

What’s more, today’s agreement builds on previous efforts to reduce our deficits. Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut spending by more than $1 trillion. Tonight’s agreement does even more by asking millionaires and billionaires to begin to pay their fair share for the first time in twenty years. As promised, that increase will be immediate, and it will be permanent.

There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it. But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans. And as we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, I will continue to fight every day on behalf of the middle class and all those fighting to get into the middle class to forge an economy that grows from the middle out, not from the top down.

President Obama on the “fiscal cliff” agreement

Published on Jan 2, 2013

President Obama on what’s in the “fiscal cliff” agreement and what it means for you. Watch it and share it with friends and family.

Obama_Biden_thumbnail

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52 Responses to Tell Congress: Do The Math, Do Your Job

  1. CR says:

    WH

    Wednesday, December 26 , 2012

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing
    Kailua, Hawaii (50th State)

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  2. CR says:

    Reforming the Tax Code

    The tax code has become increasingly complicated and unfair. Under today’s tax laws, those who can afford expert advice can avoid paying their fair share and interests with the most connected lobbyists can get exemptions and special treatment written into our tax code. While many of the tax incentives serve important purposes, taken together the tax expenditures in the law are inefficient, unfair, duplicative, or even unnecessary. In fact, because our corporate tax system is so riddled with special interest loopholes, our system has one of the highest statutory tax rates among developed countries to generate about the same amount of corporate tax revenue as our developed country partners as a share of our economy; this, in turn, hurts our competitiveness in the world economy.

    That is why the President is calling on the Congress to enact comprehensive tax reform that meets the following five principles:

    To begin the national conversation about tax reform, the President has offered a detailed set of tax loophole closers and measures to broaden the tax base that. These measures include: cutting tax preferences for high-income households; eliminating special tax breaks for oil and gas companies; closing the carried interest loophole for investment fund managers; and eliminating benefits for those who buy corporate jets.

    Tax reform should draw on these items, together with the elimination of additional inefficient tax breaks, to finance the reduction of marginal rates and meet the President’s other tax principles, including the Buffett Rule. In the absence of fundamental tax reform, the President believes these measures should be enacted on a standalone basis, along with permanent extension of the middle class 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. This would be an important step toward a tax system that is consistent with the President’s principles.

    1. Lower tax rates.Lower tax rates.
    The tax system should be simplified and work for all Americans with lower individual and corporate tax rates and fewer brackets.

    2. Cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade through tax reform, including the expiration of tax cuts for single taxpayers making over $200,000 and married couples making over $250,000.

    2. Increase job creation and growth in the United States.

    4. Make America stronger at home and more competitive globally by increasing the incentive to work and invest in the United States.

    5. Observe the Buffett Rule.
    As multi-billionaire Warren Buffet has pointed out, his average tax rate is lower than his secretary’s. No household making over $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of their total income in taxes than middle-class families. This rule will be achieved as part of overall reform that increases the progressivity of the tax code.

    Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/reform/tax-reform

    Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to TELL THEM TO START WORKING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA TO HELP AMERICA’S RECOVERY!!

    U.S. Senators
    U.S. Representatives
    Tweet a Message to Your Representatives

    • CR says:

      Americans Back Obama Tax-Rate Boost Tied to Entitlements

      Dec 12, 2012 5:00 PM PT By Julie Hirschfeld Davis – bloomberg

      A majority of Americans say President Barack Obama is right to demand that tax-rate increases for the highest earners be a precondition for a budget deal that cuts U.S. entitlement programs, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

      Just over half say Obama and Democrats are more on their side in the debate over taxes and government spending than House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans, in a survey conducted Dec. 7-10 that suggests the president has broad public backing for his stance in the deficit-reduction talks.

      While Americans are divided over solutions to avoid spending cuts and tax increases slated to take effect in January if no deal is reached, majorities want the wealthy to bear the burden of such a compromise. And while more than half say Republicans were right initially to sign a pledge never to raise taxes, that includes about one-third who say things have changed and lawmakers should back away from the promise.

      The results indicate a sense of urgency among Americans for an accord between Obama and Congress to avert a fiscal crisis, and a willingness to make sacrifices to strike a deal.

      J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Co., the Des Moines, Iowa, firm that conducted the poll, says the findings encapsulate American views on the fiscal debate.

      “Obama won the election promising to raise taxes on the wealthy,” Selzer says. “Republicans who refuse to budge from their pledge not to raise taxes are wrong-headed. Failure to strike a deal would put the national economy and the people who live in it at risk.”

      For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-13/americans-back-obama-tax-rate-increase-tied-to-entitlement-cuts.html

    • CR says:

      Lawmakers Say Time Short to Reach Deal on Fiscal Cliff

      Dec 24, 2012 4:51 AM PT By Jeff Kearns -bloomberg

      Lawmakers said they were losing confidence that Congress and President Barack Obama can reach a deal within a week to avoid more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that could cause a U.S. recession.

      “For the first time I feel it’s more likely that we will go off the cliff,” Senator Joseph Lieberman, a retiring Connecticut independent, said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” program about the so-called fiscal cliff.

      In the aftermath of House Speaker John Boehner’s failure to garner support from his caucus for “Plan B,” which would have extended tax cuts on incomes below $1 million, Lieberman said Senate leaders now must take charge of resolving the budget stalemate.

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, “have the ability to put this together again and pass something” and “they can do some things that will avoid the worst consequences,” Lieberman said.

      Lawmakers plan to return to Washington Dec. 27 to continue negotiating. Tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush and extended by Obama are scheduled to expire Jan. 1. In addition, automatic spending reductions to domestic and defense programs are scheduled to start next month.

      For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-23/lawmakers-say-time-short-to-reach-deal-on-fiscal-cliff.html

    • CR says:

      GOP willing to bend on issues after election

      12/26/12 By THOMAS BEAUMONT and JOSH LEDERMAN | Associated Press – 5 hrs ago

      DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For years, Republicans have adhered fiercely to their bedrock conservative principles, resisting Democratic calls for tax hikes, comprehensive immigration reform and gun control. Now, seven weeks after an electoral drubbing, some party leaders and rank-and-file alike are signaling a willingness to bend on all three issues.

      What long has been a nonstarter for Republicans — raising tax rates on wealthy Americans — is now backed by GOP House Speaker John Boehner in his negotiations with President Barack Obama to avert a potential fiscal crisis. Party luminaries, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have started calling for a wholesale shift in the GOP’s approach to immigration after Hispanic voters shunned Republican candidates. And some Republicans who previously championed gun rights now are opening the door to restrictions following a schoolhouse shooting spree earlier this month.

      “Put guns on the table. Also, put video games on the table. Put mental health on the table,” Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said last week. Other prominent Republicans echoed him in calling for a sweeping review of how to prevent tragedies like the Newtown, Conn., massacre. Among those who were open to a re-evaluation of the nation’s gun policies were Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

      “You’ve got to take all these things into consideration,” Grassley said.

      And yet, the head of the National Rifle Association, silent for a week after the Newtown shootings, has proposed staffing schools with armed police, making clear the NRA, which tends to support the GOP, will continue pushing for fewer gun restrictions, not more.

      Meanwhile, Boehner’s attempt to get his own members on board with a deficit-reduction plan that would raise taxes on incomes of more than $1 million failed last week, exposing the reluctance of many in the Republican caucus to entertain more moderate fiscal positions.

      With Republican leaders being pulled at once to the left and to the right, it’s too soon to know whether the party that emerges from this identity crisis will be more or less conservative than the one that was once so confident about the 2012 elections. After all, less than two months have passed since the crushing defeat of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who moved far to the right during the primary season and, some in the party say, lost the general election as a result.

      But what’s increasingly clear is that the party is now engaged in an uncomfortable and very public fight over whether its tenets, still firmly held within the party’s most devout ranks, conflict with the views of Americans as a whole.

      Many Republicans recognize that to remain relevant with voters whose views are changing, they too must change.

      “We lost the election because we were out of touch with the American people,” said John Weaver, a senior adviser to past presidential candidates John McCain, the GOP nominee in 2008, and Jon Huntsman, who ran for the nomination this year.

      The polling suggests as much.

      For more: http://news.yahoo.com/gop-willing-bend-issues-election-082710688–election.html

  3. CR says:

    U.S. Holiday Sales Advanced a Marginal 0.7%, SpendingPulse Says

    Dec 25, 2012 9:00 PM PT By Cotten Timberlake – bloomberg

    U.S. holiday sales growth slowed by more than half this year after gridlock in Washington soured consumers’ moods and Hurricane Sandy disrupted shopping, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said.

    Retail sales grew by 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 through Dec. 24, the Purchase, New York, research firm said yesterday, without providing a dollar figure in the billions. Sales grew at a 2 percent pace in the same period a year ago. SpendingPulse tracks total U.S. sales at stores and online via all payment forms.

    Americans became skittish as Washington approached the end of the year without an agreement to forestall higher taxes and automatic spending cuts — the so-called fiscal cliff. Hurricane Sandy interrupted shopping in stores and online after it slammed into the East Coast in late October. Last month, retailers from Macy’s Inc. (M) to Target Corp. (TGT) posted same-store sales that trailed analysts’ estimates.

    “You are looking at modest to marginal growth from a year ago,” Michael McNamara, a SpendingPulse vice president, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Weather events and the fiscal debate both anchored the season in terms of growth. The media coverage, which did a good job of explaining the negative consequences of the fiscal cliff, created this negative trend in consumer confidence and spending.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-25/u-s-holiday-sales-advanced-a-marginal-0-7-spendingpulse-says.html

  4. CR says:

    ICSC/Goldman Sachs Chain Store Sales Up 0.7%

    December 26, 2012, 08:25:00 AM EDT By Dow Jones Business News

    The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Retail Chain Store Sales Index edged up 0.7% in the week ended Saturday from the week before on a seasonally adjusted, comparable-store basis, rising for the second- straight week.

    The comparison of this week to a year earlier was unfavorable as the week ended on Christmas Eve last year.

    “In the final week of December in-store sales growth will likely be boosted by the calendar shift, which is why we are holding to our expectations for the month,” said ICSC Chief Economist Michael Niemira.

    ICSC expects December industry sales will increase 4% to 4.5%, excluding drug stores.

  5. CR says:

    S&P Case-Shiller HPI

    Released On 12/26/2012 9:00:00 AM For Oct, 2012

    Prior Consensus Consensus Range
    20-city, SA – M/M 0.4 % 0.5 % 0.3 % to 0.8 %
    20-city, NSA – M/M 0.3 % -0.3 % -0.5 % to 0.4 %
    20-city, NSA – Yr/Yr 3.0 % 4.1 % 3.5 % to 4.4 %

    Market Consensus before announcement
    The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index (SA) rose 0.4 percent in September following similarly solid gains of 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent in the two prior months. Improvement was really evident in the year-on-year rate which was up to plus 3.0 percent from plus 2.2 and plus 1.1 percent in the prior two months. Gains swept across nearly all 20 cities.

    Source: http://bloomberg.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=451768&cust=bloomberg-us&year=2012&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top

  6. Kat 4 Obama says:

    Happy and HOPEful Wednesday, CR and all friends!

    >^..^<

  7. CR says:

    WH

    Thursday, December 27, 2012

    All Times Eastern

    3:00 AM
    President Obama departs Hawaii and returns to Washington, D.C

    Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    4:00 AM
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    6:00 AM
    7:00 AM
    Vice President Biden attend meetings
    White House

    8:00 AM
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    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    11:30 AM
    President Obama arrives at Joint Base Andrews.

    11:45 AM
    President Obama arrives at the White House.

    12:00 PM
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    • CR says:

      POTUS podium

      December 27, 2012

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      —-

      CNN http://live.cnn.com

      10:00 AM ET
      Senate back in session
      Senate lawmakers return from their Christmas break to discuss and debate the fiscal cliff, surveillance legislation and other issues of the day.

      2:00 PM ET
      Schatz sworn in as new Senator
      Democrat Brian Schatz is sworn in to fill the remainder of the late Daniel Inouye’s term in the U.S. Senate.

      2:15 PM ET
      House Democrats briefing on fiscal cliff
      House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and others brief reporters from Capitol Hill on the fiscal cliff crisis.

      3:00 PM ET
      Senate Democrats fiscal cliff briefing
      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others discuss the fiscal cliff crisis in a briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill.

      —-

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      10:00 AM ET
      Senate back in session
      Senate lawmakers return from their Christmas break to discuss and debate the fiscal cliff, surveillance legislation and other issues of the day. http://www.c-span.org/Events/Congress-in-session-No-Fiscal-Cliff-Agreement-Yet/10737436883/

      2:00 PM ET
      Schatz sworn in as new Senator
      Democrat Brian Schatz is sworn in to fill the remainder of the late Daniel Inouye’s term in the U.S. Senate.

      2:15 PM ET
      House Democrats briefing on fiscal cliff
      House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and others brief reporters from Capitol Hill on the fiscal cliff crisis.

      3:00 PM ET
      Senate Democrats fiscal cliff briefing
      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others discuss the fiscal cliff crisis in a briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill.

  8. CR says:

    Hawaii lieutenant gov. picked to fill Senate seat

    12/26/12 By By BECKY BOHRER | Associated Press – 2 hrs 26 mins ago

    HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz on Wednesday was appointed the state’s next U.S. senator, bucking the dying wishes of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye to win the support of Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

    Schatz, a 40-year-old former nonprofit CEO who ran with Abercrombie for the state’s top two offices in 2010, beat out U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina, a deputy director in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The three candidates were selected by state Democrats earlier in the day.

    The White House said Schatz would fly to Washington on Wednesday night aboard Air Force One, which was bringing President Barack Obama home early from his Christmas vacation as Congress considers what to do about the so-called fiscal cliff.

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/hawaii-lieutenant-gov-picked-fill-senate-seat-000914007–election.html

  9. CR says:

    Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease as Holiday Prompts Estimates

    Dec 27, 2012 5:36 AM PT By Alex Kowalski & Lorraine Woellert – bloomberg

    Fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for unemployment insurance last week as state offices rushed to tally the data in a holiday-shortened period.

    Applications for jobless benefits decreased 12,000 to 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 360,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Claims in 19 states and territories were estimated because government office closures on Dec. 24 prevented a complete count, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released.

    The level of claims indicates companies are seeing enough demand to maintain headcounts, a necessary development before hiring picks up. To help spur demand, thereby stimulating faster job growth, the Federal Reserve said this month it plans to keep monetary policy accommodative.

    “One half of the equation has improved, and that’s the layoff picture,” Omair Sharif, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-27/jobless-claims-in-u-s-fall-as-holiday-leads-to-more-estimates.html

  10. CR says:

    House GOP in no rush to return

    Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:10 PM EST By Steve Benen – maddowblog

    Notice anything interesting about the U.S. House? It’s empty.

    President Obama has cut short his vacation plans and will leave Hawaii tonight in order to return to Washington. The point, obviously, is to participate in more fiscal talks in the hopes of avoiding looming deadlines, just five days away.

    But just because Obama is heading back to DC doesn’t mean Congress is prepared to do the same.

    According to House Republican leadership aides, House GOP leaders have not yet called their members back to Washington D.C., and WILL NOT be in session tomorrow for legislative business. According to one GOP aide, “It’s up to Senate Democrats to act right now.”

    During the House Republican conference meeting late Thursday night, leadership told the conference that they would be given 48 hours before being called back to D.C. after Christmas. According to aides, leadership has not given that notice yet.

    Look, it’s Wednesday. The last conceivable day to reach some kind of resolution is Monday. If House GOP leaders intend to give the caucus 48-hour notice, that leaves a very small-and-shrinking window. Even if the White House and Congress were to work something out tomorrow — that’s extremely unlikely, but just for the sake of conversation — the soonest the House would even consider voting would be Saturday.

    As for this notion that it’s “up to Senate Democrats to act,” I’ve been hearing this a lot today and it seems more and more peculiar every time. Senate Democrats can pass a perfectly sensible package tomorrow, filled with popular proposals that enjoy broad support from the American mainstream, and which would earn the president’s signature. But if it can’t overcome a GOP filibuster and pass the right-wing House, it won’t matter — and Senate Democrats aren’t in a position to accurately guess what Republicans might find tolerable.

    In other words, it’s not really up to Senate Democrats to act. Maybe if they showed up in town, ready to work, someone could explain this to them.

    • CR says:

      GOP House members conference call today with 4 days to the fiscal cliff

      December 27, 2012 6:04 AM By Lynn Sweet – bloomberg

      BREAKING NEWS SCOOP: GOP CONFERENCE CALL THURSDAY AFTERNOON

      Republican House leaders are holding a “members only” conference call at 2:30 p.m. Thursday as the path is not clear to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff by the Dec. 31 deadline. President Barack Obama gets back to the White House at 11:45 a.m. in order to deal with the stalemate.

      BOEHNER AND THE HASTERT RULE

      Policy and Pragmatism 101: Making the deal means constant tending to the question of whether a negotiated package can make it to the floors of the House and Senate for a vote. The Democrats control the Senate–which means Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) can call a vote–even if he needs GOP support to build a supermajority. In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a crucial decision–does he call a bill even if it fails to have support of the majority of his GOP colleagues–which means it would take Democratic votes to pass.

      For more: http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2012/12/4_days_to_the_fiscal_cliff.html

    • CR says:

      Obama calls congressional leaders (Updated)

      12/27/12 10:33 AM EST By DONOVAN SLACK – POLITICO44

      The president spoke with congressional leaders from both parties before leaving Hawaii Wednesday.

      According to a White House official, he made separate calls to John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell “to receive an update on the ongoing fiscal negotiations.”

      “President Obama spoke to all four Congressional leaders yesterday before departing for Washington, DC,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted Thursday morning.

      UPDATE: McConnell spokesman Don Stewart emails this statement:

      “Last night, the President called Sen. McConnell (the first Democrat to do so on the fiscal cliff since Thanksgiving) and other leaders to discuss the need for the Senate to act. The Leader is happy to review what the President has in mind, but to date, the Senate Democrat majority has not put forward a plan. When they do, members on both sides of the aisle will review the legislation and make decisions on how best to proceed.”

      • CR says:

        Pelosi: House Democratic Leadership Calls on Republicans to Come to Back to Work

        December 27, 2012 democraticleader.gov

        Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today calling on the House Republican leadership to call the House back into session to get to work. This statement follows a conference call of the House Democratic leadership today.

        “The House Democratic leadership is calling on the Republican leadership to come back to work and stop stonewalling every effort to get the job done, including making sure that taxes are not raised on tens of millions of middle class families.

        “House Democrats have been standing ready and willing to return to Washington to vote on critical issues including the middle class tax cuts, Sandy disaster relief, the Violence Against Women Act, the Farm Bill – all while we continue to work on a bipartisan solution to avoid the fiscal cliff. There are plenty of reasons for this Do-Nothing Congress to get back to work.

        “The House Republican leadership has run out of excuses and out of time. Their inaction continues to threaten middle class Americans with higher taxes.

        “With five days left before the fiscal cliff, Speaker Boehner should immediately call the House back into session to allow a vote on the Senate-passed middle class tax cut bill that the President has said he would sign immediately.”

      • CR says:

        Hoyer: Congress Ought To Be Working

        December 27, 2012

        WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today during Pro Forma session to urge House Republican leaders to call the House back into session. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:

        “We are in Pro Forma session. Pro Forma session is a session without substance or solutions.

        “We have much to do, Mr. Speaker. Millions of Americans returned to work yesterday, millions more returned to work today after taking off time for their holidays.

        “Mr. Speaker, we have, as you well know, a long list of expiring items this House must complete before the end of the year or it will have adverse consequences to our people. First, I want to say, Mr. Speaker [Rep. LaTourette], that you are one who has been working very hard to assure that we reach solutions, and I want to thank you for that.

        “Some of us are here in this chamber today, but very frankly, all of us ought to be here in this chamber today – all the Republicans and all the Democrats – working so that our people have confidence that although our challenges are tough, that we are at least here trying to reach a consensus on solutions to those challenges.

        “Mr. Speaker, as you well know, on January 1, middle-class taxes will rise; indeed taxes on all Americans will rise. Mr. Speaker, you are also aware that we have legislation that has passed the Senate overwhelmingly on a bipartisan 68-to-31 vote to address the issue of violence against women. Postal Reform legislation passed the Senate on a bipartisan fashion. We have a Farm Bill, Mr. Speaker, that has passed through the Senate on a bipartisan fashion and passed out of the Committee in this House in a bipartisan fashion.

        “We are facing sequestration on January 2 that every Member of this House believes is an irrational alternative. We have many of our fellow citizens battered by [Hurricane] Sandy, one of the largest storms to hit the Northeast ever. The Senate is now considering a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – piece of legislation to keep our country safe and secure. We have doctors who are worrying about whether they are going to be reimbursed for their medical expenses that they deliver to senior citizens. We have an Alternative Minimum Tax that will expire on December 31, resulting in a tax increase to many of our citizens, tax extenders that have not been extended, [and] a jobs bill that the President has asked for has not been considered much less passed.

        “Mr. Speaker, we ought to be here, working, addressing these challenges. Everywhere, Mr. Speaker, that you and I go, I know that we hear, ‘what are you doing on the fiscal cliff,’ or ‘I hope you’re working hard on the fiscal cliff.’ And Mr. Speaker, lamentably I must tell them we’re not working. We’re not here. We’re not addressing the challenges that I have just mentioned.

        “Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the Speaker of the House would call us back immediately to address these challenges. We have four days left to go before the end of this year, before all of those items that I spoke about expire. The sequester happens the second day of January.

        “We ought to be here working, Mr. Speaker. We’re not. This is a Pro Forma session. As I said in the beginning, a Pro Forma session is a session that is without substance and without solutions.

        “I would urge the Speaker of this House to call us back in session to do what America expects us to do: address the challenges, find solutions, come to agreement, make compromises, make democracy and America work, and give confidence to our people and to our economy. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the Speaker [John Boehner] will do that and will do it today.”

    • CR says:

      House returns on Sunday night: fiscal cliffhanger

      December 27, 2012 2:40 PM By Lynn Sweet – suntimes

      WASHINGTON–House members were told Thursday to return to Washington Sunday night–with only hours remaining to avoid the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff deadline.

      House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), via Twitter said “The House will return for legislative business on Sunday, December 30. First votes are expected at 6:30 p.m.”

      GOP House members learned about the last minute effort to avoid the fiscal cliff during a 2:30 p.m. conference call.

  11. CR says:

    How Progressives Can Become Grover’s Worst Nightmare: Get Serious About Tackling The Debt

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012 Posted by Deaniac83 – ThePeoplesView

    I started my political activism in the presidential campaign of Gov. Howard Dean back in 2003. I was most impressed with Dr. Dean for two reasons: his actions as governor to deliver universal health care to Vermont’s children, and his insistence that budgets be balanced. He balanced 11 budgets as governor, even though there is no such requirement for the Vermont governor to do so. When he balanced these budgets, Gov. Dean was often derided by the state’s liberal elite as a sellout, a Democrat in Name Only, and a Republican in Democratic clothing.

    Regardless, Gov. Dean’s progressive initiatives like health care reform in his state were successful in large part on the strengths of his fiscal responsibility. When Gov. Dean made Medicaid into a middle class entitlement in his state, it was a hard charge to make that this fiscal hawk was about to take the state down a spending binge.

    President Obama has often echoed this sentiment in explaining why progressives need to be concerned about the national debt. One of the best examples is the president’s continuous reminder to the progressive movement that in order to govern effectively and invest properly in our future, we must show the American people that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. There’s a reason the Republican lexicon is full of ‘tax and spend’ – by that, they wish to convince the American people that taxes are bad things that the government simply wastes.

    For more: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2012/12/how-progressives-can-become-grovers.html

  12. CR says:

    Consumer Comfort in U.S. Hovers Near Strongest Since March 2008

    By Michelle Jamrisko – Dec 27, 2012 6:45 AM PT

    Consumer confidence in the U.S. held near a four-year high last week as Americans grew less pessimistic about the economy.

    The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was little changed at minus 32.1 in the period ended Dec. 23 from minus 31.9 in the prior week, a drop that was within the margin of error of 3 percentage points. The gauge was less than a point from an April reading that was the highest since March 2008.

    Higher property values and record-low borrowing costs are supporting a real-estate recovery that’s bolstering household confidence while cheaper gasoline offers some relief to pocketbooks. At the same time, looming tax increases and government budget cuts threaten to keep sentiment and spending from accelerating.

    “Households are increasingly confident about their own personal finances, which is likely to sustain the improvement in consumer sentiment in 2013, albeit at low levels,” said Joseph Brusuelas, senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. “This is part and parcel of the historically slow expansion the U.S. is currently experiencing.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-27/consumer-comfort-in-u-s-hovers-near-strongest-since-march-2008.html

  13. CR says:

    New home sales climb to highest rate since April 2010

    12/27/12 Jason Lange – Reuters – 2 hours 34 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New single-family home sales accelerated in November to the fastest pace in 2 1/2 years and median sales price jumped from the same month in 2011, signs that the U.S. housing recovery is gaining some steam.

    The Commerce Department said on Thursday sales climbed 4.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted 377,000-unit annual rate. That was in line with analysts’ forecasts of a 378,000-unit annual pace.

    Government data for new home sales are subject to substantial revisions. Indeed, the Commerce Department cut its estimate for sales in October by 7,000 to a 361,000-unit rate.

    The annual sales pace for November was the quickest since April 2010.

    This year, the housing sector has been point of strength in an economy beset by flagging business confidence and cooling demand abroad. The median home price of a new home rose to $246,200, up 14.9 percent from the same month in 2011.

    New home building is expected to add to economic growth this year for the first time since 2005. The housing sector, however, remains a shadow of its former self.

    The pace of new home sales is roughly a quarter of the all-time high clocked in July 2005 when a housing bubble was still inflating. Shortly thereafter, the bubble began to deflate, helping trigger the 2007-09 recession, which was the deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

  14. CR says:

    Please join me in lighting a candle for our President, First Family and the Nation.

    http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/candles.cfm?l=eng&gi=PBO

  15. CR says:

    WH

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    President Obama meets with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Vice President Biden also attends
    Oval Office

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  16. CR says:

    Obama, Reid, Boehner, Pelosi, McConnell meeting Friday: fiscal cliff deadlock

    December 27, 2012 6:07 PM By Lynn Sweet – runtimes

    WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama will meet with the four congressional leaders on Friday as Congress on Thursday was poised to miss the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff deadline.

    The White House meeting is with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

    Getting to a deal will be difficult, even with the meeting. A spokesman for Boehner said, “Tomorrow, Speaker Boehner will attend a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, where he will continue to stress that the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act.”

    A spokesman for McConnell said, “Sen. McConnell has been invited to the White House tomorrow to further discuss the President’s proposals on the fiscal cliff. He is eager to hear from the President.”

    The Senate is in session this week. House members were told Thursday to return to Washington by 6:30 p.m. Sunday night.

  17. CR says:

    West Wing Week: 12/28/12 or “Best of the West (Wing Week)”

    Published on Dec 27, 2012

    Welcome to the “Best of the West (Wing Week)!” That’s right, folks, West Wing Week took some time over the holidays to reflect on a busy year in video, and to bring you some highlights from the archive. But first, a quick wrap up of the President’s week.

  18. CR says:

    Pending Home Sales Index

    Released On 12/28/2012 10:00:00 AM For Nov, 2012

    Prior Consensus Consensus Range Actual
    Pending Home Sales Index – Level 104.8 106.4
    Pending Home Sales Index – M/M 5.2 % 1.8 % -2.7 % to 6.0 % 1.7 %

    Market Consensus before announcement
    The pending home sales index in October jumped a very strong 5.2 percent with the impact of Hurricane Sandy, based on only a fractional decline in the Northeast, proving to be very limited, at least in the October report. The Midwest showed a very strong gain as did the South. October’s pending home sales index was at a five-year high.

    Source: http://bloomberg.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=451720&cust=bloomberg-us&year=2012&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top

  19. CR says:

    Business Activity in U.S. Expands for a Second Month

    Dec 28, 2012 7:04 AM PT By Michelle Jamrisko – bloomberg

    Business activity in the U.S. expanded in December for a second month, easing concern that a lack of progress on the federal budget would prompt a slump in manufacturing.

    The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer rose to a four- month high of 51.6 from November’ 50.4. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for the gauge would rise to 51.

    The figure corroborates another report that showed manufacturing in the Philadelphia area expanded by the most in eight months, pointing to stability in the industry. With companies tempering equipment orders in the event that more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts take place next year, an improvement in housing and sustained consumer spending has taken the lead in underpinning the economy.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-28/business-activity-in-u-s-expands-for-a-second-month.html

  20. CR says:

    3:00 PM ET
    President Obama meets with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Vice President Biden also attends
    Oval Office

    • CR says:

      December 28, 2012

      STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

      James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

      5:52 P.M. EST

      THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with leaders of both parties to try and forge an agreement that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit — a balanced plan that would cut spending in a responsible way but also ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, and, above all, protect our middle class and everybody who is striving to get into the middle class.

      I still want to get this done. It’s the right thing to do for our families, for our businesses, and for our entire economy. But the hour for immediate action is here. It is now.

      We’re now at the point where, in just four days, every American’s tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. Every American’s paycheck will get considerably smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, it would be bad for middle-class families, and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending. Fortunately, Congress can prevent it from happening if they act right now.

      I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement as we speak.

      But if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote — one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

      I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can — but we should let everybody vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill.

      So the American people are watching what we do here. Obviously, their patience is already thin. This is déjà vu all over again. America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you can’t get stuff done in an organized timetable; why everything always has to wait until the last minute. Well, we’re now at the last minute, and the American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. Not right now.

      The economy is growing, but sustaining that trend is going to require elected officials to do their jobs. The housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already you’re seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington.

      Economists, business leaders all think that we’re poised to grow in 2013 — as long as politics in Washington don’t get in the way of America’s progress.

      So we’ve got to get this done. I just want to repeat — we had a constructive meeting today. Senators Reid and McConnell are discussing a potential agreement where we can get a bipartisan bill out of the Senate, over to the House and done in a timely fashion so that we’ve met the December 31st deadline. But given how things have been working in this town, we always have to wait and see until it actually happens. The one thing that the American people should not have to wait and see is some sort of action.

      So if we don’t see an agreement between the two leaders in the Senate, I expect a bill to go on the floor — and I’ve asked Senator Reid to do this — put a bill on the floor that makes sure that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, that unemployment insurance is still available for two million people, and that lays the groundwork, then, for additional deficit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the New Year.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/28/statement-president-0

  21. CR says:

    Please join me in lighting a candle for our President, First Family and our Nation.

    http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/candles.cfm?l=eng&gi=PBO

  22. CR says:

    December 29, 2012

    Weekly Address: Congress Must Protect the Middle Class from Income Tax Hike

    Hello Everybody. For the past couple months, I’ve been working with people in both parties – with the help of business leaders and ordinary Americans – to come together around a plan to grow the economy and shrink our deficits.

    It’s a balanced plan – one that would protect the middle class, cut spending in a responsible way, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. And I’ll keep working with anybody who’s serious about getting a comprehensive plan like this done – because it’s the right thing to do for our economic growth.

    But we’re now at the point where, in just a couple days, the law says that every American’s tax rates are going up. Every American’s paycheck will get a lot smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy. It would hurt middle-class families, and it would hurt the businesses that depend on your spending.

    And Congress can prevent it from happening, if they act now. Leaders in Congress are working on a way to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I believe we may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time.

    But if an agreement isn’t reached in time, then I’ll urge the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on a basic package that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends vital unemployment insurance for Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

    I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities – as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote. If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work.

    We just can’t afford a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. The economy is growing, but keeping it that way means that the folks you sent to Washington have to do their jobs. The housing market is healing, but that could stall if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already, families and businesses are starting to hold back because of the dysfunction they see in Washington.

    You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day. The folks you sent here to serve should do the same. We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America’s progress. We’ve got to do what it takes to protect the middle class, grow this economy, and move our country forward.

    Thanks, everybody.

  23. CR says:

    Deaniac83 Debate with Alex Lawson

    Deaniac83 from ThePeoplesView’s is interviewed on radio WeActRadio debating with Alex Lawson, the Executive Director of Social Security Works/Strengthen Social Security Chained CPI and Social Security

    Airs Saturday from 12-3pm Eastern Time

    * Online: WeActRadio.com http://weactradio.com/
    * Download at mixcloud.com/weactradio http://mixcloud.com/weactradio
    * Washington, DC, from 12-3 pm every Saturday on WPWC 1480 AM
    * Chicago, IL: Saturday 4-7 pm CT, WCPT Chicago’s Progressive Talk, 820 AM (also 92.5 FM West, 92.7 FM North, 99.9 FM South)
    * Columbus, OH: Saturday 1-3 pm ET, WVKO 1580AM – Ohio’s Progressive Talk, 1580 AM
    * Grand Rapids, MI: Monday 3-6 pm CT, WPRR Public Reality Radio, 1680AM & 95.3 FM
    * Fort Smith, OK: Saturday 4-7 pm CT, Star Com Media, KHXI-FM, 99.9 FM & KKRP, 1610AM
    Subscribe on iTunes at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/take-action-news-david-shuster/id504179320

    For more: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2012/12/programming-note-i-will-be-on-radio.html

    • CR says:

      What is this Chained CPI thing?

      Let me begin by restating something I explained almost a year and a half ago, in the wake of the debt limit negotiations of 2011, on this exact subject:

      There are no cuts being proposed to social security’s basic benefits. Social Security benefits are currently calculated using a formula that takes into account your income and replaces a certain percentage of it. Here is exactly how that’s done: by determining one’s average monthly income – wage-inflation adjusted – in the 35 best earning years of one’s life, and then applying a “bend point” formula to determine your base benefit (fashionably known as PIA or the “primary insurance amount”). If you retire in 2011 at your normal retirement age, for example, your basic benefit is determined using the following formula:

      (a) 90 percent of the first $749 of his/her average indexed monthly earnings, plus
      (b) 32 percent of his/her average indexed monthly earnings over $749 and through $4,517, plus
      (c) 15 percent of his/her average indexed monthly earnings over $4,517.

      Again, these “bend points” are adjusted by a formula that has been set in law since 1979, are based on wage-growth, and there is absolutely no changes to that formula in the gang of six plan, and the changes proposed to it in the Fiscal Commission plan actually increases the base benefits for the poorest workers who are also likely to have the least in savings or other retirement income.

      A chained CPI measure would also collect more taxes. Tax brackets, like social security benefits, are indexed to inflation, which means that just every so slightly, more people will fall into slightly higher brackets.

      For the entire article: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2012/12/dear-liberals-chained-cpi-is-not-cut-to.html

    • CR says:

      Take Action News – 12-29-12

      Streamed live on Dec 27, 2012

      (Deaniac’s debate starts at the mid point of YouTube video)

  24. CR says:

    Senate adjourns to Monday, eve of ‘fiscal cliff’

    12/30/12 By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 1 hr 38 mins ago

    Bottom line: Still no “fiscal cliff” deal. And none seems imminent.
    The U.S. Senate on Sunday ended the day still sharply divided over how to avoid the automatic income-tax hikes and deep government spending cuts set to kick in Jan. 1 that could plunge the economy into a new recession.

    Despite pleas from President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner for the Senate to resolve the stalemate, Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, announced lawmakers would not return to work until 11 a.m. on Monday — New Year’s Eve — for one last chance to avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

    Reid tried to sound a note of optimism, saying closed-door discussions would carry on.

    “There is still significant distance between the two sides, but negotiations continue,” he said. “There is still time left to reach an agreement and we intend to continue negotiations.”

    But senators on both sides sounded less than optimistic as they emerged from separate closed-door meetings — one for Democrats, one for Republicans.

    “We’ve all been told not to make plans for New Year’s Eve,” Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters.
    Some said they remained hopeful.

    The Senate’s number two Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, told reporters he was “definitely” encouraged that Republicans had dropped a demand for reducing Social Security benefits as a condition for extending unemployment benefits set to expire for some two million Americans. Obama has said extending the unemployment benefits is one of his top priorities for any deal.
    “Now that they’re backing off of it, maybe we can make some progress — I hope,” Durbin said.

    Obama had previously offered to index Social Security benefits with a “chained” consumer price index — essentially adopting a less generous measure of cost-of-living increases — but only with safeguards for the poorest beneficiaries and only as part of a broader deficit-reduction plan.

    For more: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/senate-adjourns-monday-eve-fiscal-cliff-235140452–politics.html

    • CR says:

      House won’t vote before midnight on ‘cliff’ deal

      12/31/12 Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will miss the midnight Monday deadline lawmakers set for voting to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

      House Republicans notified lawmakers that the chamber will vote Monday evening on other bills. They say that will be their only votes of the day.

      President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Monday they are near a deal to avoid wide-ranging tax increases and spending cuts — the fiscal cliff — that take effect with the new year.

      Both men said they were still bargaining over whether — and how — to avoid $109 billion in cuts to defense and domestic programs that take effect on Wednesday.

      It remained unclear whether the Senate would vote Monday.
      Congress could pass later legislation retroactively blocking the tax hikes and spending cuts.

  25. CR says:

    Fiscal cliff: Biden, McConnell make major progress

    12/31/12 6:00 AM EST Updated: 12/31/12 8:22 AM EST By JOHN BRESNAHAN, MANU RAJU and JAKE SHERMAN – POLITICO44

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden engaged in furious overnight negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff and made major progress toward a year-end tax deal, giving sudden hope to high-stakes talks that had been on the brink of collapse, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

    McConnell and Biden, who served in the Senate together for 23 years, only started talking Sunday, after negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and McConnell sputtered.

    Sources close to the talks said a deal is now more likely to come together but cautioned that obstacles remain, including how Speaker John Boehner and House Republican leaders react to any tentative agreement.

    “The Leader and the VP continued their discussion late into the evening and will continue to work toward a solution. More info as it becomes available,” a McConnell spokesman said.

    It comes as Washington awakens on a chilly New Year’s eve to a daunting reality: If lawmakers and the White House are not able to broker a last-minute deal on the fiscal cliff, the country will actually go over it.

    For more: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/fiscal-cliff-hanger-as-deal-in-limbo-85599.html?hp=t1

    • CR says:

      Five facts about the Biden-McConnell deal

      December 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm Posted by Suzy Khimm – bloomberg

      The first thing that everyone points out about the proposed fiscal cliff deal between President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is that it lets the Bush tax cuts expire on income above $450,000. It also includes a one-year extension of unemployment insurance, ensuring that 2 million continue to receive benefits, while leaving out an extension of the payroll tax holiday. But there’s actually a lot more that’s in this possible agreement.

      1. The working poor would benefit significantly from an extension of tax breaks for low-income families

      2. The estate tax provision would benefit a very small number of people and an even smaller number of small businesses and family farms

      3. Businesses would continue to benefit from specially targeted tax breaks, including ones that support clean energy

      4. The Alternative Minimum Tax would be permanently fixed to avoid burdening middle-class families

      5. Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at 20 percent for families with income above $450,000

      For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/31/five-facts-about-the-biden-mcconnell-deal/

    • CR says:

      Tentative ‘fiscal cliff’ deal reached in Senate

      12/31/12 By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 3 hrs ago

      Racing to beat a midnight deadline, Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill Monday night to sell wary Democratic senators on an 11th-hour deal to avert income tax hikes on all but a sliver of the richest Americans.

      Grinning broadly, Biden ignored reporters questions on whether he and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had finally forged a compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that threatened the still-fragile economy with a new recession. “Happy new year,” he replied.

      He was only slightly chattier on his way out about an hour and 45 minutes later. Asked what his selling point had been, Biden reportedly replied: “Me.”

      Earlier, a Democratic Senate aide told Yahoo News that “the White House and Republicans have a deal,” while a source familiar with the negotiations said President Barack Obama had discussed the compromise with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and “they both signed off.”

      The apparent agreement set up a Senate vote late Monday or possibly in the wee hours of Tuesday. The House of Representatives was due back at noon on Tuesday to take it up.

      In a joint statement, the House’s Republican leaders including Speaker John Boehner hinted that they might amend anything that clears the Senate – a step that could kill the deal.

      “Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members — and the American people — have been able to review the legislation,” they said.

      Under the compromise arrangement, taxes would rise on income above $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for households, while exemptions and deductions the wealthiest Americans use to reduce their tax bill would face new limits. The accord would also raise the taxes paid on large inheritances from 35% to 40% for estates over $5 million. And it would extend by one year unemployment benefits for some two million Americans.

      Biden, a 36-year Senate veteran, worked out the agreement with McConnell after talks between Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner collapsed.

      For more: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/last-minute-fiscal-cliff-deal-outlines-emerging-181845501–politics.html

    • CR says:

      January 01, 2013

      Statement from the President on the Senate Deal to Extend Middle Class Tax Cuts

      Leaders from both parties in the Senate came together to reach an agreement that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support today that protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners from a middle class tax hike. While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay.

      This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way – by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.

      What’s more, today’s agreement builds on previous efforts to reduce our deficits. Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut spending by more than $1 trillion. Tonight’s agreement does even more by asking millionaires and billionaires to begin to pay their fair share for the first time in twenty years. As promised, that increase will be immediate, and it will be permanent.

      There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it. But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans. And as we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, I will continue to fight every day on behalf of the middle class and all those fighting to get into the middle class to forge an economy that grows from the middle out, not from the top down.

      • CR says:

        What The Howling Left Doesn’t Get: The Fiscal Cliff Deal Is A Huge Strategic Win For Progressives

        Tuesday, January 01, 2013 Posted by Deaniac83 – ThePeoplesView

        So, it’s a done deal. The fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate in the wee hours of the new year morning has just cleared enough votes in the House. 90% of Democrats voted for it. But that’s not for lack of trying by the Left’s howler monkeys to kill this deal.

        This afternoon, I got an email from MoveOn.org, asking me to send an email to my Congresswoman, urging her to oppose the aforementioned deal. And so, of course, I sent her an email urging a vote in favor of the fiscal cliff compromise. What boggles the mind though – although, I suppose I should be used to the intransigence from the Left’s howling crowd demanding flying unicorns from the president – is what possibly could be keeping a group like MoveOn and its ideologue brotheren from supporting the deal.

        But to understand their grievances – or if you take my frame, hair-on-fire stagecraft – you need to understand, in short, what is in the deal. Summarizing from Wonkblog by Ezra Klein:

        * Income tax rates for incomes above $400,000 ($450,000 for joint filers) rise to a marginal rate of 39.6% permanently. All expiring (lower) tax rates for incomes below that amount are made permanent.
        * Estate tax increases to 40% for inheritances over $5 million, from the expiring 35%.
        * Stimulus tax breaks – the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit – are extended for another year.
        * The Alternative Minimum Tax is permanently fixed to stop it from affecting the middle class.
        * Extended unemployment benefits are extended for another year.
        * The stimulus business tax breaks – including R&D and wind energy credits – will also be extended for another year.
        * Medicare provider payments are prevented from decreasing drastically (both from the sequester deal, 2%, and the automatic yearly reductions that Congress prevents every year).
        * The rest of the sequester – i.e. the automatic defense and domestic cuts – is postponed for two months, financed 50% by defense and domestic cuts.
        * Personal exemptions are phased out for incomes above $250,000; itemized deductions will be reduced for people with incomes over $350,000.

        For more: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2013/01/what-howling-left-doesnt-get-fiscal.html

        • CR says:

          House members to Boehner: ‘Shame on you’ for not holding Sandy vote

          1/01/13 11:55 PM ET By Pete Kasperowicz – TheHill

          Republicans and Democrats in the House blasted Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late Tuesday night for deciding against holding any vote on a Hurricane Sandy supplemental aid bill before the end of the 112th Congress.

          Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) started the discussion on the House floor by saying he was just informed that the House would not be taking any other votes in the 112th Congress and so would not be taking up a Sandy bill until the next Congress.

          “This Congress is apparently leaving town without responding to that emergency,” Hoyer said. “I am deeply disappointed … and the people who have been damaged by Sandy, including Gov. [Chris] Christie, a Republican, and Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo, a Democrat, should be deeply disappointed, and yes, angry, that this Congress would adjourn without addressing the pain of our fellow citizens.”

          Hoyer was followed by several angry Republicans and Democrats, many of whom said Boehner should be ashamed for not taking up a Sandy bill.

          For more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/275119-house-members-to-boehner-shame-on-you-for-not-holding-sandy-vote
          House members to Boehner: ‘Shame on you’ for not holding Sandy vote

          1/01/13 11:55 PM ET By Pete Kasperowicz – TheHill

          Republicans and Democrats in the House blasted Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late Tuesday night for deciding against holding any vote on a Hurricane Sandy supplemental aid bill before the end of the 112th Congress.

          Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) started the discussion on the House floor by saying he was just informed that the House would not be taking any other votes in the 112th Congress and so would not be taking up a Sandy bill until the next Congress.

          “This Congress is apparently leaving town without responding to that emergency,” Hoyer said. “I am deeply disappointed … and the people who have been damaged by Sandy, including Gov. [Chris] Christie, a Republican, and Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo, a Democrat, should be deeply disappointed, and yes, angry, that this Congress would adjourn without addressing the pain of our fellow citizens.”

          Hoyer was followed by several angry Republicans and Democrats, many of whom said Boehner should be ashamed for not taking up a Sandy bill.

          For more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/275119-house-members-to-boehner-shame-on-you-for-not-holding-sandy-vote

          • CR says:

            House GOP blocks Violence Against Women Act

            Wed Jan 2, 2013 2:13 PM EST By Steve Benen – maddowblog

            Congress had a lengthy to-do list as the end of the year approached, with a series of measures that needed action before 2013 began. Some of the items passed (a fiscal agreement, a temporary farm bill), while others didn’t (relief funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy).

            And then there’s the Violence Against Women Act, which was supposed to be one of the year’s easy ones. It wasn’t.

            Back in April, the Senate approved VAWA reauthorization fairly easily, with a 68 to 31 vote. The bill was co-written by a liberal Democrat (Vermont’s Pat Leahy) and a conservative Republican (Idaho’s Mike Crapo), and seemed on track to be reauthorized without much of a fuss, just as it was in 2000 and 2005.

            But House Republicans insisted the bill is too supportive of immigrants, the LGBT community, and Native Americans — and they’d rather let the law expire than approve a slightly expanded proposal. Vice President Biden, who helped write the original law, tried to persuade House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to keep the law alive, but the efforts didn’t go anywhere.

            And so, for the first time since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act is no more. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Democratic point person on VAWA, said in a statement:

            “The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

            For more: http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/01/02/16305284-house-gop-blocks-violence-against-women-act?lite

          • CR says:

            Good Riddance to Rottenest Congress in History

            Jan 2, 2013 3:17 PM PT By Ezra Klein – bloomberg

            On January 3rd, the 112th Congress of the United States of America finally ends. Thank God.

            To properly evaluate the 112th, consider the record of its predecessor, the 111th Congress, which ran from January 2009 to January 2011. The fighting 111th passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the “stimulus”), the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. It passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and expanded both the Serve America Act for community service and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It created significant new anti-tobacco regulations, ratified the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty, ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the armed forces and agreed to the 2010 tax deal, which extended the Bush tax cuts in return for the passage of middle- class stimulus.

            The laws passed by the 111th Congress were controversial, particularly among Republicans. They were also big, bold initiatives that, if not always fully equal to the size of our problems, surely perched on the outer edge of Congress’s capacity to deliver solutions. Love it or hate it, the 111th Congress governed. No Congress in recent history has a record of productivity anywhere near it.

            Terrible Policy
            What’s the record of the 112th Congress? Well, it almost shut down the government and almost breached the debt ceiling. It almost went over the fiscal cliff (which it had designed in the first place). It cut a trillion dollars of discretionary spending in the Budget Control Act and scheduled another trillion in spending cuts through an automatic sequester, which everyone agrees is terrible policy. It achieved nothing of note on housing, energy, stimulus, immigration, guns, tax reform, infrastructure, climate change or, really, anything. It’s hard to identify a single significant problem that existed prior to the 112th Congress that was in any way improved by its two years of rule.

            The 112th, which was gaveled into being on Jan. 3, 2011, by newly elected House Speaker John Boehner, wasn’t just unproductive in comparison with the 111th. It was unproductive compared with any Congress since 1948, when scholars began keeping tabs on congressional productivity.

            When it ends, the 112th Congress will have passed about 220 public laws — by far the least of any Congress on record. Prior to the 112th, the least productive Congress was the 104th, from January 1995 to January 1997. Not coincidentally, that Congress also featured a new Republican House majority determined to ruin a Democratic president in advance of the next campaign. The 104th, however, passed 333 public laws — almost 50 percent more than the 112th. The 112th stands alone in its achievement of epic failure.

            For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-02/good-riddance-to-rottenest-congress-in-history.html

    • CR says:

      Often Written Off, Biden Has Long List Of Deals To His Name

      January 05, 2013 5:28 AM by ARI SHAPIRO – NPR

      When President Obama finally announced a fiscal cliff agreement late Tuesday night, he thanked several people who had worked to get a deal.

      The first one he mentioned by name was the man standing next to him at the podium: “my extraordinary vice president, Joe Biden.”

      In the final hours of the standoff, Republican Mitch McConnell asked Biden to help push a deal over the finish line. It was far from the first time the vice president has played that role.

      In 2009, Biden’s chief economist, Jared Bernstein, was in an Oval Office meeting with the president. In the middle of the meeting, Bernstein remembers, the phone rang.

      “And it’s Arlen Specter announcing that he’s going to become a Democrat and give the Democrats the majority in the Senate,” Bernstein recalls. “And the president took the call and was extremely pleased. And when he got off the phone, he said something to the effect of, ‘That was Joe Biden’s work.’ ”

      The White House has an entire legislative affairs office whose only job is to keep in touch with Congress. But often, this vice president acts as a one-man shop, doing the job on his own.

      Bernstein says everyone in the White House acknowledges this.

      “Not only is it recognized as one of his strengths, but it’s one of the reasons he’s there,” Bernstein says. “I mean, you’re talking about a president who was in Washington and in the Senate for all of two years, and a vice president who was there for 36.”

      Obama has a reputation for being aloof, especially with members of Congress. He doesn’t take lawmakers golfing. He doesn’t invite them over for movie night. He doesn’t schmooze.

      Biden is just the opposite. This week, he greeted incoming senators and their families at the start of the new Congress. He gave bear hugs, workout advice and facial caresses.

      That side of Biden is easy to mock. Critics dismiss him as a gaffe-prone windbag who talks more than he listens. That’s what veteran Republican staffer Jack Howard had heard before he met Biden in 1994.

      Howard was working for then-Rep. Newt Gingrich in the House at the time. Congress was deadlocked over a crime bill. Lawmakers were still in the office deep into what would usually have been the August recess, when Biden, then the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, came over to help break the logjam.

      “My first reaction was: Why is he coming over here to try to help this? And my experience to that point had pretty much been only what I’d seen or heard from other people, which, you know, was kind of a caricature of him,” Howard says. “But all those notions were quickly dispelled within hours.”

      Howard says Biden was there until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., night after night, sleeves rolled up, pushing everyone toward a deal.

      “The Republican members quickly came to realize we could trust the guy,” Howard says. “He was a straight shooter. He kind of knew what our limits were, and he was quite candid in terms of telling us what his limits were. … Once you kind of get that established, that’s the first real predicate to a successful negotiation.”

      For the entire article and audio: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/01/05/168637705/often-written-off-biden-has-long-list-of-deals-to-his-name

  26. CR says:

    Good Riddance to Rottenest Congress in History

    Jan 2, 2013 3:17 PM PT By Ezra Klein – bloomberg

    On January 3rd, the 112th Congress of the United States of America finally ends. Thank God.

    To properly evaluate the 112th, consider the record of its predecessor, the 111th Congress, which ran from January 2009 to January 2011. The fighting 111th passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the “stimulus”), the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. It passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and expanded both the Serve America Act for community service and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It created significant new anti-tobacco regulations, ratified the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty, ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the armed forces and agreed to the 2010 tax deal, which extended the Bush tax cuts in return for the passage of middle- class stimulus.

    The laws passed by the 111th Congress were controversial, particularly among Republicans. They were also big, bold initiatives that, if not always fully equal to the size of our problems, surely perched on the outer edge of Congress’s capacity to deliver solutions. Love it or hate it, the 111th Congress governed. No Congress in recent history has a record of productivity anywhere near it.

    Terrible Policy
    What’s the record of the 112th Congress? Well, it almost shut down the government and almost breached the debt ceiling. It almost went over the fiscal cliff (which it had designed in the first place). It cut a trillion dollars of discretionary spending in the Budget Control Act and scheduled another trillion in spending cuts through an automatic sequester, which everyone agrees is terrible policy. It achieved nothing of note on housing, energy, stimulus, immigration, guns, tax reform, infrastructure, climate change or, really, anything. It’s hard to identify a single significant problem that existed prior to the 112th Congress that was in any way improved by its two years of rule.

    The 112th, which was gaveled into being on Jan. 3, 2011, by newly elected House Speaker John Boehner, wasn’t just unproductive in comparison with the 111th. It was unproductive compared with any Congress since 1948, when scholars began keeping tabs on congressional productivity.

    When it ends, the 112th Congress will have passed about 220 public laws — by far the least of any Congress on record. Prior to the 112th, the least productive Congress was the 104th, from January 1995 to January 1997. Not coincidentally, that Congress also featured a new Republican House majority determined to ruin a Democratic president in advance of the next campaign. The 104th, however, passed 333 public laws — almost 50 percent more than the 112th. The 112th stands alone in its achievement of epic failure.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-02/good-riddance-to-rottenest-congress-in-history.html

  27. CR says:

    ********************
    THIS POST IS NOW CLOSED NBLB

    Come on over to my newest post titled: “Emancipation Proclamation – 150th Anniversary ”

    ********************

    To get to the newest post click on “HOME” at the top of the thread

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