An agreement appears to be coming together to avert the "fiscal cliff." While it would put off entitlement reform, it would give Republicans much of what they want on taxes. Republicans could still reject the plan even as liberals complain that Democrats are giving away too much.
The plan that appears to be coming together, according to Bloomberg's Joshua Green and New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, would make the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for all taxable income below about $400,000 to $500,000 and increase the threshold and lower the rate for the estate tax. In return, Democrats would get an extension of unemployment benefits, a one year delay in planned cuts to doctors who provide services for Medicare patients, and a temporary fix to the alternative minimum tax to prevent tax increases on many middle income households.
In another concession to Republicans, an increase to the debt limit will not be part of the agreement. Republicans had tried to change how the cost-of-living allowance is calculated for Social Security as part of the deal, but Democrats rejected that idea. more >>
With the Monday at midnight deadline for the "fiscal cliff" fast approaching, political leaders still had not reached a compromise by Sunday night to avoid the recession that economists say will likely come with the combined tax increases and government spending cuts. With the House and Senate both in session on Sunday, members of Congress disagreed on whether there would be an agreement.
Much like the Budget Control Act of 2011, which is partly responsible for the fiscal cliff, Vice President Joe Biden is now leading efforts on behalf of the White House to reach an agreement. He met off and on with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) throughout much of the day.
Sounding optimistic on ABC's "This Week," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said it would not be unusual to have an agreement at the last minute: "I've been a legislator for 37 years and I've watched how these things work. On these big, big agreements they almost always happen at the last minute." more >>
The day before the 'fiscal cliff' deadline and as Congress continues to work on an agreement, President Barack Obama appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" to blame Congressional Republicans for not reaching a deal. In a panel discussion after the interview, journalists criticized Obama for not doing more to build trust with Republicans and not displaying more leadership on entitlement reform.
"We have been talking to Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers," Obama explained Sunday.
The problem has not been with the Democrats, Obama said, but with Republicans because they have been unwilling to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes. more >>
With the presidential and congressional elections, battles over the federal budget, debates over immigration and same-sex marriage, and one of the most watched Supreme Court cases in a generation, 2012 was an eventful year for U.S. politics. Here is The Christian Post's list of the top 10 moments in U.S. politics for 2012.
1. Barack Obama Re-Elected
President Barack Obama once again won the biggest prize in American politics. The Obama campaign's "get out the vote" effort surpassed any previous presidential campaign in its sophistication and use of new technologies and will become a model for future campaigns. more >>
The U.S. government will go over its debt limit on Monday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced Wednesday. "Extraordinary measures" will be used to keep the nation from defaulting on promised payments for about two months.
The announcement came in a letter to congressional leaders.
The "extraordinary measures" will provide about $200 billion of "headroom," Geithner wrote, but the amount of time that will buy will depend much on what lawmakers do with regard to the "fiscal cliff." more >>
Lawmakers have given up on a "grand bargain" to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and fix the nation's long-term debt woes. Instead, the Senate is now working on a plan that would delay the spending cuts and tax increases that will ultimately be necessary to prevent the long-term debt crisis that experts say will be much more damaging than the fiscal cliff.
After a short Christmas break, President Barack Obama and the Senate will be back in Washington, D.C., Thursday, giving themselves only five days until the start of the fiscal cliff. The House is not scheduled to be is session Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will introduce a bill that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year, extend unemployment benefits, eliminate the alternative minimum tax for middle income families, and delay cuts in payments to doctors who see Medicare patients.
The plan would be less favorable to House Republicans than the "plan B" bill that they rejected last week. Reid expects, though, that the House would rather sign onto his plan than be blamed for going over the fiscal cliff. Plan B, introduced by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), would have kept the Bush-era tax cuts in place for all taxable income below $1 million. more >>