With the deadline to avert the "fiscal cliff" quickly approaching, it may be helpful to recall how we reached this point. Here is a timeline, or "fiscal cliff notes," of events that led to the current predicament.
1917: Congress first put a limit on the amount and types of debt the Treasury Department was allowed to issue. It was initially intended to give the Treasury more flexibility, not less, to manage the nation's finances. Eventually, members of Congress realized they could use it to force tough choices in the federal budget.
1935: The Social Security program is implemented. It is a social insurance program for retirees over age 65 (later increased to 67). Implemented as a "pay-as-you-go" system, current workers pay the taxes for current retirees. When it was first implemented, few workers lived to age 65 and fewer still lived long past 65. Over time, however, as health care improved, more people lived to age 65 and collected Social Security for a longer period after age 65. Add to that the retirements of the Baby Boom generation, and the cost of Social Security is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade. more >>
While recent polls show that most Americans would blame Republicans if no agreement is reached to avoid the "fiscal cliff," veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward believes that President Barack Obama has the most to lose if the nation goes over the cliff. Obama would be held accountable for the poor economy that would ensue in that scenario, Woodward claimed Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Going over the fiscal cliff "would be a giant disaster," Woodward said. Obama "needs to improve things and show that he's a leader."
Political insiders say there could be more to South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's decision to resign his seat than just a bigger paycheck at a coveted Washington policy organization. Even some legislators on the hill are pointing out that GOP leaders are relegating their tea party types to the backbench and that is making them seek additional outlets to advance their cause.
Conservatives pay high accolades to DeMint for helping to recruit conservative candidates, oftentimes getting them through crowded primaries before setting the stage for general election victories.
Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, praised DeMint for bringing other conservatives to the Senate such as Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah) and newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas). more >>
A majority of Democrats indicated they have a positive view of "socialism," a recent Gallup poll found. But a Socialist Party spokesperson maintains that both the Democratic and Republican parties are ineffective.
A late November poll found that 53 percent of Democrats – or those who lean that way – have a favorable view of socialism compared to just 23 percent of Republicans.
In a column in Tuesday's Canada Free Press, conservative activist Robert Rohlfing makes the argument that Democrats should fully embrace socialism and rename their party to better reflect support of programs rooted in socialism, most notably the Affordable Healthcare Act, or commonly known as Obamacare. more >>
A suggestion by some Democrats that eliminating tax deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions could be part of a fiscal cliff deal is raising the specter of significant harm for the middle class, according to some experts.
And they are saying the church is at risk as well.
Some believe that President Obama may support eliminating these deductions despite repeated assertions during his campaign that he plans to protect the middle class. more >>
Republican leaders accused President Barack Obama of wasting time on the "fiscal cliff" negotiations in the proposal he offered Thursday. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in five Sunday talk show appearances, countered that it was a serious proposal and it is now up to Republicans to offer a counter-proposal.
Obama's opening bid in the fiscal cliff negotiations showed a lack of seriousness, Republican leaders claimed on the Sunday talk shows. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) even claimed that the proposal means that Obama wants the nation to go over the fiscal cliff.
"We've got seven weeks between Election Day and the end of the year and three of those weeks have been wasted with this nonsense," Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in an interview on Fox News Sunday that was taped on Friday. more >>