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Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
THE denouement of the fiscal-cliff drama, unsurprisingly, ended up with a vote that split Republicans in the House. John Boehner, Paul Ryan and 83 other GOP...
Coffee Party USA's insight:

"What if you could take the Republicans and Democrats who voted for the fiscal-cliff deal and form a centrist coalition out of them, leaving the tea-party right and the progressive left out? Such a government might be kind of lousy. It would have no ideological coherence. It might conceivably be able to govern the country. But given the structure of the American political system, it's not really possible. The best we can hope for is more votes like the one yesterday in which party allegiance breaks down, and where representatives like Mr Ryan scramble desperately to protect themselves by invoking the fiction that the American people voted for divided government. Embrace the fiction!" (from the article)


America needs Individual representatives acting more independently for the communities they are elected to represent. That would be the best way to govern rather than going lock step with the party agenda. The best leaders would govern by bringing both pro and con arguments honestly and fully into the open so that those communities understand issues fully.  Just sending newsletters and press releases to those they represent that put a one sided spin to win citizens over to the party agenda instead of getting those citizens fully informed and engaged undermines the whole democratic process of rule by the people. Citizens should always be doing their own homework so they can see and understand beyond the party spin. Representatives would become more widely trusted and respected if they could be trusted to do and share more of that homework for those they represent.

 

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Chris Christie drops bomb on GOP leaders

Chris Christie drops bomb on GOP leaders | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Conservative activist groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth and Heritage Action all pressured congressional Republicans to vote against Hurricane Sandy relief, but a backlash led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led to a wise reassessment.


by JON AVLON, CNN


"It's why the American people hate Congress. Unlike the people in Congress, we have actual responsibilities."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped a bomb on Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Congress for refusing to allow a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief in the final hours of the 112th Congress. It was an instant classic of principled political outrage. It provided a strong dose of what Washington has been missing: blunt, independent leadership.


Christie prosecuted the case by pointing out that hurricane relief had been provided more quickly to others: For victims of Katrina after 10 days and victims of Hurricane Andrew in Florida after 30 days. But residents of the New Jersey and New York coast have been waiting 65 days to date for some relief.

Christie also accurately pointed out that Northeast states such as New Jersey and New York send more to the federal government in taxes than they get back in federal aid, unlike many of the red states represented by conservatives in Congress. The "makers versus takers" narratives fall apart fast when confronted with reality. [MORE]

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J'nene Solidarity Kay's curator insight, January 4, 2013 2:31 PM

Keep your eye on this one. Women, children, families have suffered and will continue to suffer until the do-nothing Congress gets over itself.

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Five facts about the Biden-McConnell deal

Five facts about the Biden-McConnell deal | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

 by Suzy Khimm, Washington Post


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: The proposed deal includes a five-year extension of tax credits that Obama had expanded in the 2009 stimulus: The Earned Income Tax Credit was expanded to help more working poor, particularly those with big families; the Child Tax Credit was expanded to help the poorest Americans; and a more generous tax credit was given to families for college tuition.

Republicans had been willing to support a return to 2001 levels for these tax breaks, which benefit more than 27 million Americans. But preserving Obama’s 2009 expansion on the Bush-era tax provisions means that 13 million low-income families would avoid an average $834 tax hike, according to the Center for Tax Justice.

2. The estate tax provision would benefit a very small number of people and an even smaller number of small businesses and family farms: Neither party wanted the estate tax to return to Clinton-era rates of 55 percent, but Democrats wanted to set it at 45 percent while Republicans wanted the keep the current rate of 35 percent. The proposed deal splits the difference by setting it at 40 percent and gives Republicans the higher exemption threshold of $5 million (Dems wanted it to revert to $3.5 million). Republicans and Democrats from rural districts were pushing for a more generous estate tax to avoid punishing family farms, among other things. But keeping the high $5 million exemption means that almost no small businesses at all will be subject to the estate tax: The Tax Policy Center estimates that only 40 small businesses and family farms would have paid any estate tax at all in 2012 with the $5 million exemption. [MORE]

 

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Eight Corporate Subsidies in the Fiscal Cliff Bill, From Goldman Sachs to Disney to NASCAR

by Matt Stoller, Roosevelt Institute


Throughout the months of November and December, a steady stream of corporate CEOs flowed in and out of the White House to discuss the impending fiscal cliff. Many of them, such as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, would then publicly come out and talk about how modest increases of tax rates on the wealthy were reasonable in order to deal with the deficit problem. What wasn’t mentioned is what these leaders wanted, which is what’s known as “tax extenders”, or roughly $205B of tax breaks for corporations. With such a banal name, and boring and difficult to read line items in the bill, few political operatives have bothered to pay attention to this part of the bill. But it is critical to understanding what is going on.

The negotiations over the fiscal cliff involve more than the Democrats, Republicans, the middle class and the wealthy. The corporate sector is here in force as well. One of the core shifts in the Reagan era was the convergence of wealthy individuals who wanted to pay less in taxes – many from the growing South – with corporations that wanted tax breaks. Previously, these groups fought over the pie, because the idea of endless deficits did not make sense. Once Reagan figured out how to finance yawning deficits, the GOP was able to wield the corporate sector and the new sun state wealthy into one force, epitomized today by Grover Norquist. What Obama is (sort of) trying to do is split this coalition, and the extenders are the carrot he’s dangling in front of the corporate sector to do it. [MORE]

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Robert Trotner's curator insight, January 3, 2013 9:45 AM

"Econned: How UNelightended self interest undermined democracy and corrupted Capitalism"

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Why 85 House Republicans said 'yes' to taxes

Why 85 House Republicans said 'yes' to taxes | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Many have been in Congress long enough to know an era when deal making wasn't taboo.


by ALEX ISENSTADT, Politico

It was one of the toughest votes they’ve had to cast in their congressional careers. But here’s why 85 House Republicans broke with most of their GOP colleagues — and decades of anti-tax orthodoxy — to back President Barack Obama’s tax hike bill:

Their districts are conservative — but not so conservative that jumping off the fiscal cliff wouldn’t potentially backfire in the next election. A general-election challenge from the left is a bigger threat than a primary from the right. And being able to tell most of their constituents they shielded them from a big tax hike was more important than being accused by a vocal few of selling out Republican principles. [MORE]
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Restoring path of true democracy

Restoring path of true democracy | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Opinion: Unlimited spending is bad for the electoral process and secret spending is even worse.
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Robert Trotner's curator insight, January 3, 2013 9:56 AM

Truth to power: The days of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed should be long past. Let's put our People back in charge of our democracy.

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Why Boehner, Cantor parted ways on Sandy, cliff

Why Boehner, Cantor parted ways on Sandy, cliff | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Both sides try to downplay the divide by saying individual members of Congress are able to go their own ways.
Coffee Party USA's insight:

Interesting to read this behind the scene look at what was playing out that shaped lack of action and opposing views about the Sandy relief within the GOP.

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The GOP's Failed 'Plan O': Inside the Fiscal-Cliff Saga

The GOP's Failed 'Plan O': Inside the Fiscal-Cliff Saga | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

This is the story of Plan O – the congressional Republicans’ failed attempt to meet the challenge of Obama’s victory


by John Aloysius Farrell Chris FratesNancy Cook and Billy House, National Journal


Last fall, as members of Congress were home campaigning and America’s attention was focused on the contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, top aides to House Speaker John Boehner huddled to devise a winning strategy for the looming fiscal cliff.

Chief of Staff Mike Sommers, policy director Brett Loper, and communications chief Dave Schnittger gathered each week in H-128, the high-ceilinged “Board of Education” room, one floor beneath the House chamber, where the legendary Sam Rayburn had hosted his cronies for whiskey and gossip during his long reign as speaker. It was in that room that, in 1945, then-Vice President Harry Truman learned of Franklin Roosevelt’s death and felt, he said later, like “the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”

Boehner’s aides prepared two blueprints: a “Romney Wins” and an “Obama Wins” scenario. A Romney win – Plan R - would generate less pressure: The new Republican president would make his thinking known, and Boehner would follow his lead. But the calculus changed, fundamentally, if Obama won reelection and the Senate stayed in Democratic hands. Boehner would then be the nation’s leading Republican elected official. It would be up to him to counter the president, oppose huge tax hikes, and resolve the fiscal cliff. He would have to act boldly--and quickly.

This is the story of Plan O – the congressional Republicans’ failed attempt to meet the challenge of Obama’s victory. It begins in September and ends in the fiasco of the Christmas season, when the speaker was repudiated by his own troops and had to pull his last, desperate solution from the House floor, leaving Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to cut the best deal he could with dramatically diminished leverage. [MORE]

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House Republicans move toward climactic vote on 'fiscal cliff' bill

House Republicans move toward climactic vote on 'fiscal cliff' bill | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Russell Berman, Erik Wasson and Molly K. Hooper, The Hill


The House Rules Committee sent the Senate-passed "fiscal cliff" bill to the floor late Tuesday with a vote in the full chamber to take place around 10:30pm to 11pm. 


After a day of lengthy internal GOP wrangling over whether to amend the Senate-approved bill, House GOP leaders decided that they did not have enough support to pass an amendment with Republican votes alone. 


The move came after a pair of long closed-door Republican conference meetings, and was a signal that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) believes there are enough votes to pass the Senate measure without changes.
 

Earlier in the day, Republicans said they were considering an attempt to amend the Senate measure, but lawmakers said there was no consensus on what to attach to the bill to garner enough GOP support.
 

The two choices were: amend the bill with spending cuts — likely killing it for the 112th Congress — or vote to adopt the Senate measure and send it to President Obama for his signature.


Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) said Tuesday night that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told rank-and-file members, in response to a direct question, that if the House GOP could not muster enough votes to amend the bill, he would personally vote "yes" on the unchanged legislation. Speakers by tradition rarely vote on the floor, and Boehner has only voted on a handful of bills, generally when he wants to show solidarity with members taking politically difficult votes. [MORE]

Coffee Party USA's insight:

John Boehner has cautiously led House Republicans to an up-or-down vote on the Senate's bipartisan compromise. He spent the day letting them vent their anger and disappointment. He warned them that killing the bill with an austerity amendment would be politically risky (because it would damage the U.S. economy and voters would be disgusted). Then, he made the effort to pull together the votes to kill the bill, even though he wanted to allow an up-or-down vote. The votes were not there to kill the bill, and now the US House will vote on a clean bill (no amendments) at approximately 11:45 pm tonight. It is expected to pass with Democratic and Republican votes. —Eric Byler

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Part 1 of the Fiscal Cliff is Over. Now Gird Yourself for Part 2.

Part 1 of the Fiscal Cliff is Over. Now Gird Yourself for Part 2. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by KEVIN DRUM, Mother Jones


The fiscal cliff is dead. Long live the fiscal cliff.


It's over. Sort of. The Senate voted 89-8 to prevent middle-class taxes from rising while allowing rates to increase for taxpayers with incomes over $450,000. Democrats caved in on the estate tax, so the elderly super-wealthy can breathe easy on that front. Capital gains taxes go back up to 20 percent for high earners, and Democrats and Republicans split the difference on dividend taxation, raising it to 20 percent too, rather than the 39.6 percent Obama wanted. The working class got an extension of the stimulus tax cuts, but lost out on an extension of the payroll tax holiday. The deal also includes a bunch of other miscellaneous provisions (Suzy Khimm has the details here), and the end result is a revenue increase of about $600 billion over ten years.


And in bonus news, the milk cliff was also averted. At the last minute, the Senate added a nine-month extension of the current farm bill to the legislation. This means we won't be reverting to the 1949 law, which would have doubled milk prices across the country. Lactophiles can now breathe as easily as millionaires in hospices.


But it's not over til it's over, and the fiscal cliff is far from over. First, the House still has to vote on the deal. They'll probably approve it, though. More importantly, negotiators punted over the debt ceiling and the sequestestration cuts. That's the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that emerged from the 2011 debt deiling debacle, split evenly between domestic programs and defense programs. Congress now has two months to hammer out a deal on that front, and Obama held a press conference yesterday warning Republicans that he wouldn't accept a deal that was all spending cuts and no revenue increases. If this sounds like the exact same thing they've been fighting over for the past year, give yourself an A. [MORE]

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What You Need to Know About the Fiscal Cliff Before You Go to Your New Year's Party

What You Need to Know About the Fiscal Cliff Before You Go to Your New Year's Party | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Yes, we're going over the cliff. Yes, there's probably going to be a bipartisan deal. No, you shouldn't freak out.


by MOLLY BALL, The Atlantic


So, you want to go out drinking for New Year's Eve, but you also want to know what's going on with the fiscal cliff. (Surely this describes most Atlantic readers: both fun-loving and well-informed.) Do we have a deal or what? If we do, what's in it? Is it good or bad? Here's a quick FAQ to make you sound smart -- at least until the third glass of champagne. After that, we can't help you.


Is there going to be a deal? What's the latest? A deal appeared imminent late Monday, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declaring shortly before 3 p.m. that the two sides were "very, very close" and had "reached an agreement on all of the tax issues." President Obama said earlier in the afternoon that a deal was "within sight." Led by McConnell (for the Republicans) and Vice President Biden (for the Democrats), the two sides had come to tentative agreement on making permanent the current tax rates for individual income under $400,000 and family income under $450,000, and allowing rates to rise to their Clinton-era levels for higher incomes. Accord had also been reached on permanent fixes to the Alternative Minimum Tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax, plus temporary measures to address the child tax credit and earned income tax credit. National Journal's Chris Frates has the details here.


What are they still haggling about? The fact that the parties have agreed on tax rates resolves the No. 1 sticking point up to now and bodes extremely well for a deal on the rest. But "the rest" still has to be worked out. Remember, the major components of the so-called fiscal cliff are (1) the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and (2) the spending cuts set to kick in automatically as a result of the "sequester" agreement that resolved the 2011 debt-ceiling fight. With the former largely dealt with, the latter is the biggest thing still on the table. Neither side wants to see defense and discretionary spending indiscriminately slashed as the sequester would do, but Republicans would like to see substantially more spending cuts in other areas to compensate. [MORE]



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Senators trade proposals into night to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’

Senators trade proposals into night to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’ | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Washington Post


Senate negotiators labored late into Saturday over a last-ditch plan to avert the “fiscal cliff,” struggling to resolve key differences over how many wealthy households should face higher income taxes in the new year and how to tax inherited estates.


As the clock ticked toward a Jan. 1 deadline, the halls of the Capitol were dark and silent. The House and the Senate are shuttered until Sunday afternoon, in part to avoid distractions as the talks over averting sharp tax increases for most American taxpayers entered their final hours.


While Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) monitored developments by telephone, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arrived at the Capitol shortly after noon. Asked whether he and Reid would be able to strike a deal, McConnell smiled and replied: “I hope so.”


As nightfall approached, top Democratic and Republican aides continued shuttling paperwork with the latest proposals back and forth between the two leaders’ offices, about 60 steps apart.


Under negotiation is a deal that would extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for nearly all taxpayers but increase rates on top earners. It also would extend unemployment benefits set to expire in January for 2 million people and prevent about 30 million Americans from having to pay the alternative minimum tax for the first time.


McConnell left the Capitol shortly before 7 p.m, revealing few details. “We’ve been in discussions all day, and they continue,” he said. He added, “We’ve been trading paper all day and talks continue into the evening.”


Reid and McConnell have set a deadline of about 3 p.m. on Sunday for cinching a deal. That’s when they’re planning to convene caucus meetings of their respective members in separate rooms just off the Senate floor. At that point, the leaders will brief their rank and file on whether there has been significant progress and will determine whether there is enough support to press ahead with a proposal. [MORE]

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112th Congress To Make History As Most Unproductive Since 1940s

112th Congress To Make History As Most Unproductive Since 1940s | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON -- As 2012 comes to a close, the 112th Congress is set to go down in American history as the most unproductive session since the 1940s.
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Debt Ceiling Clash Nears for Lawmakers

Debt Ceiling Clash Nears for Lawmakers | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpts from article by MICHAEL D. SHEAR and JACKIE CALMES, New York Times


The president says increasing the borrowing limit is nonnegotiable, while Republicans say the House is all but certain to pass a bill that raises the debt limit only in exchange for significant cuts — a challenge to Mr. Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Smarting from the president’s victory on taxes over the New Year’s holiday, Republicans in Congress are betting that their refusal to raise the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling will force Mr. Obama to the bargaining table on spending cuts and issues like changes in Medicare and Social Security.

But doing so would inevitably reprise the bitter debate over the debt ceiling that took place in the summer of 2011, when the government came close to defaulting on its debt before lawmakers and the president agreed to a 10-year package of spending cuts in exchange for Republican agreement to raise the debt ceiling by about the same amount.

And that is exactly what Republicans want — again.


...In saying he will refuse to bargain over the debt limit, Mr. Obama is counting on help from the business community, given its traditional ties to Republicans. Recently, for example, the head of the Business Roundtable, John Engler, a Republican and former governor of Michigan, called for extending the debt limit for five years.


“You don’t put the full faith and credit of the United States’ finances at risk,” said David M. Cote, chairman of Honeywell and a Republican member of the 2010 Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission. “The whole idea of using debt ceiling that way or saying ‘I’ll do this horrible thing to all of us unless you give in’ just doesn’t make any sense for anybody. It makes me very nervous. It’s not a smart way to run the country.” [Full article]


Via Eric Byler
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Opinion: Restoring path of true democracy

Opinion: Restoring path of true democracy | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Eric Schneiderman is attorney general of the state of New York.


by ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, Politico | Opinion 


Last November, Americans got a glimpse of what can happen to our representative democracy when wealth determines our degree of participation in the electoral process. As we enter the new year, the vast majority of us would now agree that unlimited spending by wealthy individuals and corporations is bad for the American electoral process and that unlimited secret spending is even worse.


Unfortunately, the 2012 election was just the beginning. In a decision last summer — American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock — the Supreme Court struck down a ban on independent expenditures in state and local elections, so now races for judge, sheriff and district attorney are the targets for massive independent expenditures, despite the obvious risk of corruption that this entails.


Money in politics has rarely incited the level of voter indignation necessary to win reforms, as many voters have become acclimated to the system of legalized bribery that is corroding America’s democratic process.


This year’s elections changed that. The Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, and the orgy of election spending they have unleashed, have provoked unprecedented public revulsion. Advocates in every cause who have seen sensible legislation derailed by backroom influence peddling can’t afford to let this moment pass without galvanizing a new movement to clean up our electoral system.


Fortunately, there seems to be strategic activity in three distinct areas that could provide the framework for such a movement. First, we need to develop a long-term strategy to overturn Citizens United. Second, we must demand total transparency and make it easy for all to know where campaign cash comes from and where it goes. And third, we need to mitigate the effects of Citizens United with public campaign financing systems, such as our successful program in New York City. [MORE]

Coffee Party USA's insight:

The pieces ends with thest two memorable paragraphs:

Opponents argue that tax-payer financing of elections is too expensive. I would argue that the cost pales in comparison to the price tag for corruption. Political campaigns cost money. If candidates are going to be indebted to someone for funding their campaign, better it should be to the public as a whole than some narrow special interest.


The mutually reinforcing nature of economic injustice and political inequality in our campaign financing system poses a clear and present danger to the American project of self government. More eyes are now opened to this danger than ever . Let’s seize this moment to limit the influence of money in politics and get America back on the path of genuine democracy.

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GOP Blocks Violence Against Women Act

GOP Blocks Violence Against Women Act | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
After GOP fails to advance it. (House GOP Blocks VAWA http://t.co/sGvXsGdk #cheatsheet)
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Fiscal cliff final package extends production tax credit for wind energy

Fiscal cliff final package extends production tax credit for wind energy | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
As Washington worked to avoid the fiscal cliff, wind producers in California were among the industries concerned about what a budget resolution might bring.
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The haves, the Have-mores, and the have-nots :(

The haves, the Have-mores, and the have-nots :( | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The U.S. is being split into a collection of islands for the rich and a vast land mass for the poor. Just as in third-world countries, if you want to lead a comfortable life, you have to be rich.
Coffee Party USA's insight:

The visual here speaks volumes about what both activist groups share in common. The article is a very fine assessment of the present state of affairs for most Americans.

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Bipartisan "Cliff" Deal a Successful Dress Rehearsal: Good Sign for 2013

Bipartisan "Cliff" Deal a Successful Dress Rehearsal: Good Sign for 2013 | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ERIC BYLER


Many are saying that the "Fiscal Cliff" was a crisis created by Congress, and that our leaders should not receive too much credit for solving it. But let's remember that most recent chapter of our 4-year  saga of debt & deficit political theater was inserted as a mid-season replacement for 2011's The Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis, a much more serious game.

This Fiscal Cliff episode turned out to be a dress rehearsal for The Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis Part 2, allowing for the two parties to learn to work together. Republicans decided to vote with Democrats on both sides of the Capital dome. This is good. When Republicans and Democrats realize they have more in common with each other than either party has with extremists, progress follows. Trust me. I have seen it before.

As part of last night's bipartisan compromise, the job-killing and economic-recovery-killing budget cuts known as the "sequester" have been scheduled to coincide with Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis Part 2 in March. But thanks to a successful dress rehearsal, I predict that an emboldened White House, encouraged Democrats, and relieved Republicans will form a coalition that defeats the radical right's negligent debt ceiling tactic (holding the global economy hostage in order to force the nation into European-style austerity measures that would hurt the economy and add to the deficit and the debt by shrinking our tax base for decades to come). Instead of caving in to deranged hostage-takers, we may well see Washington achieve a "grand bargain" similar to the one President Obama has been seeking for two years now: gradual, and responsible deficit reduction that allows our economy to create jobs and continue its recovery. [MORE]

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Robert Trotner's curator insight, January 3, 2013 10:00 AM

There was a good omen in the Fiscal Cliff deal: At least congress and the senate did SOMETHING. Even though there was a lot of sausage making involved, there is a view that that is the the "spice" that makes the system work. Now if they could only act BEFORE rather than after a deadline, and without the pork....

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House Republicans May Implode Bipartisan "Fiscal Cliff" Deal

House Republicans May Implode Bipartisan "Fiscal Cliff" Deal | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by RYAN GRIM, Huffington Post

 

A high-stakes, multi-layered game of chicken is underway in the Capitol, as House Republicans grapple with how to handle a fiscal cliff bill sent their way by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, even while it's wildly unpopular within their conference.

A vote that had been scheduled on the bill immediately to follow a conference-wide meeting was postponed indefinitely, reflecting the uncertainty surrounding the process. Republicans emerging from the meeting said that the most likely scenario is that the House will amend the bill to add spending cuts, then send it back to the Senate.

"I'll be shocked if this isn't sent back to the Senate,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), leaving the meeting. "I don't think that's out of the realm of possibility," said a senior House GOP aide, confirmed by other high-level aides.

They'll have no difficulty making life uncomfortable for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who they blame for getting them in this mess, said one GOP source close to the situation. "He jammed the House. He's gonna get re-jammed," he said of the possibility the House amends the bill and sends it back to the Senate.

But if House Republicans think they can put the onus back on the Senate by amending the bill, they are wildly mistaken, a Democratic Senate aide involved in the talks said. "They are full of hot air. Not a chance we come back," he said. [MORE]

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Obama, Republicans reach deal on fiscal cliff; Senate votes 89-9

Obama, Republicans reach deal on fiscal cliff; Senate votes 89-9 | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Washington Post


President Obama and Senate Republicans reached a sweeping deal late Monday that would let income taxes rise significantly for the first time in more than two decades, fulfilling Obama’s promise to raise taxes on the rich and averting the worst effects of the “fiscal cliff.”


Vice President Biden arrived at the Capitol just after 9 p.m. to explain the details of the pact he negotiated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). A Senate vote on the package could be held by 10:30 p.m., beating a midnight deadline, Democratic aides said. The Republican-controlled House will begin considering the bill on Tuesday, with a final vote expected in the next day or two.


The agreement emerged after White House officials gave in on the last contested issue, yielding to GOP wishes on how to handle estate taxes, aides said.


The revelations about the pending deal came after Obama had said a pact was “within sight,” and House Republican leaders announced they would hold no votes Monday night, making it appear that that the nation would go over the fiscal cliff for at least a day. The two sides have been negotiating frantically to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to kick in on Tuesday, which many economists believe would push the nation back into a recession. [MORE]

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McConnell & Biden close to deal: tax cuts for wealthy capped at $400,000 (similar to deal House Republicans rejected)

McConnell & Biden close to deal: tax cuts for wealthy capped at $400,000 (similar to deal House Republicans rejected) | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpts from bullet point news summary by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower of NBC News


...Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Biden are very close to a deal. According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, Biden is offering McConnell raising tax rates on income above $400,000-plus and an up-or-down vote on the estate tax in return for unemployment insurance and having the sequester offset by some of the increased revenues. (Folks, this is VERY similar to deal that President Obama offered House Speaker John Boehner, but from which Boehner walked away.) From what we understand, McConnell wants a deal -- he wants to get this tax issue off the table. So they are close. The question is whether Boehner would bring such a deal to the floor and whether it could pass in time. But if a Biden-McConnell deal gets 70 or more votes in the Senate, Boehner might not have no choice but to bring the legislation to the House floor.


*** Why we are possibly headed off the cliff: So it’s possible Congress could still come to some kind of agreement, but it's always been a likely outcome that we're headed to go off the so-called fiscal cliff. The reason: It's become the easiest -- and safest -- path for both sides; NBC's Mike Viqueira has called it the "inertia scenario." For Democrats, going over the cliff ensures the elimination of the Bush tax cuts, and it gets them the tax revenue they've been demanding without having to give up a thing. What's more, Democrats probably hold the upper hand if we go off the cliff, given all the polling suggesting that the American public would blame Republicans more than Democrats. For Republicans, having the Bush tax cuts expire means they don't have to vote to raise taxes and thus break any tax pledge. Instead, beginning in the New Year, they get to vote to lower them for the middle class (the income threshold TBD). 


*** What happens if we go over the cliff: But here’s an important reminder if we go over the fiscal cliff: The financial/economic world won’t come to an end, at least in the short run. While some things will take place immediately, others (including rising tax rates and government cuts) will be spread out over the year, and Congress has the ability to fix them retroactively. As the New York Times wrote last week, “Some hits — like a two percentage point increase in payroll taxes and the end of unemployment benefits for more than two million jobless Americans — would be felt right away. But other effects, like tens of billions in automatic spending cuts, to include both military and other programs, would be spread out between now and the end of the 2013 fiscal year in September. These could quickly be reversed if a compromise is found. Similarly, the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts on Jan. 1 would not have a major impact on consumers if Congress quickly agreed to extend them for all but the wealthiest Americans in early 2013, as is widely expected. Other probable changes, like a jump in taxes on capital gains and dividends, would most likely be felt over a broader period rather than as an immediate blow to the economy.” Yet one thing is for certain if we go over the cliff: The financial markets won’t like it.


*** The blame game: In his interview on “Meet the Press,”President Obama said congressional Republicans would get the blame if the country goes over the fiscal cliff. “Congress has not been able to get this stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don't want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it's been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit, as part of an overall deficit reduction package.” When NBC’s David Gregory asked Obama if he would deserve any blame, the president replied, “I negotiated with Speaker Boehner in good faith and moved more than halfway in order to achieve a grand bargain. I offered over a trillion dollars in additional spending cuts so that we would have $2 of spending cuts for every $1 of increased revenue. I think anybody objectively who's looked at this would say that we have put forward not only a sensible deal but one that has the support of the majority of the American people, including close to half of Republicans.” [MORE]

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Howard Dean: Let's Go Over the Fiscal Cliff

Howard Dean: Let's Go Over the Fiscal Cliff | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Daniel Honan


The so-called "fiscal cliff" refers to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on December 31, 2012, along with a series of spending cuts that will be triggered on that same date. It is called a cliff because the change will not be gradual, but steep and dramatic.


Economists estimate all of the tax and spending measures together will take a total of $500 billion out of the U.S. economy in 2013. That will certainly sting, and many worry it will trigger a double-dip recession. Why are we facing this fiscal cliff? The situation is the result of a compromise plan that President Obama and Congress agreed to last summer that ended the debt ceiling debate, or rather, put it on hold. Meanwhile, organizations such as the IMF have advocated that Congress take a less aggressive approach to debt reduction that would mitigate the short term pain that woud be inflicted on a fragile economy. [MORE]

Coffee Party USA's insight:

It's time for us to "bite the bullet" and go over the fiscal cliff!

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