Congress and President Barack Obama have prevented a potential recession with the "fiscal cliff" bill, but in doing so put off, yet again, many difficult decisions necessary to get the nation's fiscal house in order. In a couple of months, three more fiscal cliff battles lie ahead -- sequestration, the debt ceiling, and a new federal budget.
As part of the Budget Control Act (2011), about $1 trillion of automatic spending cuts were supposed to begin going into effect in 2013 if Congress did not replace them with an equivalent amount of deficit reduction. About half of those cuts are in defense and the other half are in other discretionary spending. more >>
When the dust settled after the House and Senate voted on the fiscal cliff bill, Democrats supplied the overwhelming majority of the votes. But what may yet prove to be the bigger issue was how the issue split Republicans in both chambers. It may well set the stage for how Congress and the GOP will function in the coming year.
In the final 36 hours there seemed little chance to salvage a deal. Growing frustrated when Senate Democrats stopped negotiating, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on his long-time friend, Vice President Joe Biden, to sit down and see if they could hammer out a couple of final points to win passage in the upper chamber.
Both men cut their political teeth on back-room deals so the announcement of a compromise surprised few within earshot of Capitol Hill. more >>
Pundits contend that Tuesday's passage of the bill to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff was in essence the Democrats' ratification of the tax cuts implemented by President George W. Bush in 2001 – at least for families making under $450,000 annually.
Dana Perino, who served as Bush's press secretary, told The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin on Wednesday that she doesn't believe Democrats can move away from the Bush tax cuts since they endorsed it in Tuesday's vote.
"Yes, the Bush tax cuts, which were demonized by Democrats for years as being only for the rich, were deemed critical to the country's middle class by the very Democrats who complained the loudest about – and voted against – them," wrote Perino in an email to Rubin. "When confronted with their hypocrisy, many Democrats just shrug it off as if listening to Charlie Brown's teacher. But deep down they know they lost the argument, and it will be impossible for them to ever go back on their new position." more >>
Tea Party Leaders are expressing outrage and disappointment over the House passing a bill late New Year's Day that allows President Obama and Congressional Democrats to raise taxes on wealthy Americans with no guarantee of future spending cuts.
"Sadly, our New Year's predictions have all come true," said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots. "Congress and the president had all year to do their jobs and be fiscally responsible – and, just like we said they would, they waited until the last possible moment to fail their nation miserably with a 'fiscal cliff' scheme to raise taxes and keep overspending.
The issue for those who believe the nation has a spending problem and not a revenue problem suddenly became a nightmare when 85 Republicans in the House joined 172 of their Democrat colleagues in supporting the measure that was sent over in the wee hours of the morning on New Year's Day. more >>
With the election, scandals and budget battles, 2012 saw plenty of political losers. Here are the top ten political losers in American politics for 2012.
With Congress and President Barack Obama on the verge of passing an agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff," America's political leaders have again shown an unwillingness to make difficult choices to deal with the nation's national debt, now at around $16.4 trillion. Americans said they were unsatisfied with the status quo and wanted their political leaders to work together to solve the nation's difficult problems, yet they re-elected a Democratic president, Democratic Senate and Republican House. more >>
The U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday passed a bill, 257-167, to avoid the "fiscal cliff." President Barack Obama said he will sign the bill into law.
The bill passed with a majority of Democrats, 172-16, and a minority of Republicans, 85-151. It was negotiated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden and easily passed the Senate, 89-8, early Tuesday morning.
House leaders had originally said they would not have enough time to review the bill and vote on it by Tuesday. If the bill had not been voted on by Thursday at noon, though, they would have had to pass a new bill with the new Congress that would then be in session. more >>