Death and Taxes, they are certain (Edward Ward)
Republicans are behaving as if there was no election - they're resisting Obama with all the ferocity and contempt they showed in the summer of 2011, when a bitter partisan standoff with the White House led to S&P's humiliating downgrade of the government's long-term credit rating (The Week)
If we're serious about reducing our deficit while still investing in things like education and research that are important to growing our economy - and if we're serious about protecting middle-class families - then we're also going to have to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates. That's one principle I won't compromise on. After all, this was a central question in the election (I won) (President Obama)
he clock was ticking! America could have plunged off the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013! The fiscal cliff was a large collection of tax cuts that expired on Dec. 31. In order to stop USA from falling off the fiscal cliff, a last minute deal was brokered by VP Joe Biden and the senate minority leader.
A deal was reached, but, that it wasn't what neither group has wanted (better than nothing), meaning that negotiations would continued even as the plunge may have been averted.
The AP wrote "Racing the clock, the White House reached a New Year's Eve accord with Senate Republicans late Monday (December 31) to block across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs due to take effect at midnight, according to administration and Senate Democratic officials. Under the deal, taxes would remain steady for the middle class and rise at incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples. Spending cuts aimed at the Pentagon and domestic programs would be deferred for two months. That would allow the White House and lawmakers time to regroup before plunging very quickly into a new round of budget brinkmanship certain to revolve around Republican calls to rein in the cost of Medicare and other government benefit programs. Without legislation, economists in and out of government warned of a possible recession if the economy were allowed to fall over a fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts. And while the deadline to act was technically midnight, Obama's signature on legislation by the time a new Congress takes office at noon on Jan. 3, 2013 - the likely timetable - would eliminate or minimize any inconvenience for taxpayers".
"Congress' excruciating, extraordinary New Year's Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.
Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt".
Oliver Knox of Yahoo wrote: "The House of Representatives late Tuesday (January 1, 2013) easily approved emergency bipartisan legislation sparing all but a sliver of America's richest from sharp income tax hikes -- while setting up another "fiscal cliff" confrontation in a matter of weeks. Lawmakers voted 257-167 to send the compromise to President Barack Obama to sign into law. Eighty-five Republicans and 172 Democrats backed the bill, which had sailed through the Senate by a lopsided 89-8 margin shortly after 2 a.m. Opposition comprised 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats. Republican House Speaker John Boehner voted in favor of the deal, as did House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, his party's failed vice presidential candidate. But Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy voted against it. Obama, speaking from the White House briefing room shortly after the vote, praised lawmakers for coming together to avert a tax increase that "could have sent the economy back into a recession." He added "A central premise of my campaign for president was the change the tax code that was too skewed toward the wealthy at the expense of working, middle-class Americans. Tonight, we've done that." But he signaled that the legislation was "just one step in the broader effort" of getting the nation's finances in order while boosting growth and job creation".
For weeks, the negotiations between the White House and the Speaker of the House of Reps, as regards to the fiscal cliff, were in stalemate, as no side wanted to make any major concession. What surprised many was that the Republicans in the House of Reps were against raising taxes on the richest Americans who are only about two percent of the population. So, they (the Republicans) held the country hostage just for the rich Americans vis-à-vis the American majority. Americans gave Obama the mandate to make important decisions on their behalf. That was the message from the presidential election. The majority of Americans said they trust Obama to make the right political and economic decisions for the country. The voters said, by their votes, that Obama has the sound judgment to make the right decisions which would benefit all Americans. But the Republicans in the House of Reps are not getting it!
Worth mentioning is the fact that Mitt Romney campaigned that he would reduce the federal spending to 20% of GDP; would keep all the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; and, would repeal Obamacare, but, the electorate didn't buy that and didn't elect him. Linda Feldmann of Christian Science Monitor wrote that "Obama campaigned hard on raising taxes on the wealthy - that they pay their "fair share" - and won re-election. His job approval rating is on the rise. As the 'fiscal cliff' loomed closer, President Obama said higher tax rates for the wealthy - not just revenue from limiting deductions and other sources - is his nonnegotiable demand. Obama said he will compromise with Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff, but won't agree to a plan that doesn't raise taxes on wealthiest Americans". Brad Knickerbocker also wrote "In theory, at least, President Obama's clear election victory should - or at least could - open the way to bipartisanship in Washington. His win may have been slimmer than in 2008, but Republicans in Congress can no longer have as their highest priority stopping Mr. Obama's re-election, as Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell famously vowed two years ago. Nor, given the "fiscal cliff" dead ahead, can Republicans and Democrats simply stay entrenched in their partisan positions".
The American political system is not working as it should; Washington is in quagmire as political process there is gridlocked. Republicans have no choice but to work with Obama to get things done. Unless American political system starts working today, it will only be a matter of time before USA faces another political crisis.
Surprisingly, the American Congressional members, who receive their pay for 365 days' work (a year), always have to wait until about 72 hours (last minute) to reach any deal. Should they start receiving only 72 hours' pay every month instead?
The President has made his position known since more than 19 months and on that platform he ran his re-election bid. The American electorate accepted that position and re-elected him. But the GOP members of the House of Reps are still not getting the message from their defeat. The best thing would have been for them (GOP Reps members) to change tactics early enough and then tone down the rhetoric thereby working with the president to make life easier for all Americans. As long as the GOP members of the Congress remain recalcitrant after their party's losing of the presidential election and some seats in the House of Reps and senate, it then means that they (the GOP) haven't learned their lesson. In the mid term congressional elections, the American electorate will make them to bleed by punishing them the more. The President has the people's mandate. One wonders if the GOP members in the House of Reps are living in a different planet for them not to understand or see the hand writing on the wall. The American people have spoken and so shall it be, trying to do otherwise is going against the will of the majority of the Americans and the price would be costly. Afterall, many of the GOP members in the House of Reps and Senate would seek re-election in 2014, but, Obama isn't going to seek re-election again. Let's see who would be in a dire strait in two years time. The political tsunami for the GOP would continue, afterall, the Democrats won more House votes nationwide than Republicans did this year. And Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.
When the negotiations stalemated, the president took to Twitter to boost grass-roots support for his plan to end George W. Bush-era tax cuts for high-income earners families who annually earn $250,000 or more. Obama's campaign sent a message to volunteers recently. This is an excerpt:
I hope you had a lovely holiday and all is well. I'm writing with a quick update on the "fiscal cliff" and how you can get involved.
Right now, President Obama is asking you to think about what $2,000 a year means to you and your family or someone you know -- because Congress needs to hear it.
The Senate has passed a bill that stops taxes from going up for 98 percent of American families, and asks those who can afford it to pay a little more. If the House follows suit, President Obama is ready to sign it as soon as it hits his desk.
If they fail to do so, a typical middle-class family of four will see their taxes go up by $2,000 in just a few short weeks.
President Obama is asking Congress to do the right thing and act before the New Year, but he needs our help. We've got a good track record here: When we make our voices heard and urge Congress to take action -- whether it's about health care, student loans, Wall Street reform, or "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- they listen.
For more than 19 months, President Obama campaigned on the idea that if we're going to be successful, every American has to do their part and pay their fair share.
A centerpiece of his platform, and the campaign you built, was that income taxes should not go up on the middle class -- that the responsible way to pay down the deficit, while investing in education, job training, research, and science, is to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more.
None of this is a surprise to anyone in Washington. They heard the same arguments we did -- they paid attention to the campaign, and then they saw a clear majority of voters deliver a verdict on November 6th.
If and when the House passes this bill, 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses will not see a tax increase.
Your story matters and Congress needs to hear it.
Think about what $2,000 a year can do for you, or your family, or someone you know, and submit it here:
Thanks for speaking out. More soon,
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America"
The GOP members were doing what we call "shakara" in Nigeria; they wanted to gain the limelight they thought Obama "stole" from them since the incident of Superstorm sandy. At the end, majority of them supported the deal because without it some of them would have committed political suicide and would have kissed their political career goodbye for ever, because, the American public would not hesitate to punish anybody who puts his or her interest above that of the majority. None of those elected members of the Congress would have been happy to see America fall over because the price to pay for it could have been too dear. Had America tumbled over the fiscal cliff, 53 percent of the country would have blamed the GOP! The AP wrote: "Scores of GOP lawmakers voted for the measure, reversing a quarter-century of solid Republican opposition to boosting any tax rates at all".
Days before the deal that averted the plunge, even the Christian Science Monitor believed a compromise will be worked out to avoid plunging into the abyss on New Year's Eve. Because:
1. America's reputation and its economic stability are threatened dramatically by inaction. Except for a few zealots, most people aren't going to want to see that happen. Some even believe that the looming fiscal cliff will eventually lead to a grand bargain between the White House and Capitol Hill on reforming America's tax code and entitlement programs - setting the tone, perhaps, for other agreements over the next few years on issues from immigration to energy. Many believe the specter of a double-dip recession remains the most important reason that Congress and the president will reach some sort of accommodation by Jan. 1. It's something that neither party wants to see - or be blamed for. Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said "I have to believe that common sense and self-preservation will prevail in the face of such economic peril! It's not going to be easier to fix the problem by putting the country into a recession - quite the opposite."
2. The tax increases imposed by the cliff on Americans (if it happened), collectively, would be the highest in six decades as measured by a percentage of the economy. No one who pays income tax would be spared, and many others wouldn't either. Yet many of the tax increases that would occur if the fiscal cliff takes effect would fall on middle-income Americans. A household earning $50,000 per year, for instance, would see its taxes grow by $2,000 in 2013, according to the Tax Policy Center. "You will have 30 million angry constituents and they will ask you why," says John Buckley, a professor of tax law at Georgetown University Law School in Washington, who adds: "I don't think Congress can tolerate that."
3. While lawmakers can posture all they want over the fiscal cliff, there is one American institution that registers its opinion every day irrespective of the machinations of Washington - Wall Street. Many analysts expect the stock market to play a role in pressuring the two sides to hatch some sort of agreement. Letting the nation fall off the cliff - or even approach the cliff - could result in a catastrophic drop in the stock market, they say, which would erode people's portfolios and financial institutions' balance sheets. Like in 2008, after the House rejected the bank bailout plan (the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP), the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 700 points. When the legislation returned to the floor days later, the bill drew nearly 60 new supporters and the legislation passed. "These catastrophic market moves had a major inspirational effect in getting Congress to act. The markets are a big factor in this. [Their impact] may be psychological, but if the markets lose confidence I think Congress becomes more reactive to that" says Mr. Glickman, who is also a former member of the House from Kansas.
4. The cliff, unresolved, would enforce about $100 billion in infamous "sequestration cuts." About half of that would come from military spending and the rest from across-the-board trims in "discretionary" programs, with the exception of a few things like Social Security, veterans' benefits, and children's health insurance. Groups all across the political spectrum are lining up to prevent the indiscriminate pruning. Republicans don't like the huge cuts to military spending, which would amount to about 10 percent, nor do some Democrats, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has said it would lead to substantial job losses and reductions in major weapons programs. Federal emergency assistance would be cut about 8 percent, something that would be difficult even without the sodden destruction of Superstorm Sandy. The Secret Service, highway funding, health research, air-traffic controllers, the FBI, environmental protection - outlays for all these would be slashed and all have their constituencies.
Senator Charles Schumer of New York said prior that Speaker Boehner was reluctant to reach across the political aisle for fear it could cost him the speakership when he runs for re-election. The Speaker of the House of Reps wanted America to plunge in order to retain his post. If the fiscal cliff had happened on January 1, the new House of Reps will start on January 6, and then the speaker sees his chance of getting re-elected without making a deal with President Obama until then. But, the GOP Speaker of the House of Reps should know that Americans are worried about their future and it seems he wanted to toy with it. Just as John Wayne (1907 -1979) said "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life; comes to us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." The GOP should know that Americans are watching and will deliver their judgment during the next mid term congressional elections. The GOP seems to be a party that takes everything very casual unlike before. It's time for the party to start getting serious and the Speaker of the House should know as Jim Rohn (1930 -2009) wrote "Don't take the casual approach to life. Casualness leads to casualties." Americans want surprises; the politicians of all parties in Washington DC should work together for a better America, because, the average Americans, just as J. B. Priestly (1894 -1984) noted, " have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning." Americans are interested in their future and that of their children, the same way Charles Kettering (1876 -1958) wrote that "My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there." Now is the time to plan for a better future as Abraham Lincoln (1809 -1865) said that "The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time."
To be concluded soon!
For now, let's continue thanking The President:
For being so "cool":
President Barack Obama leads a cheer for the La Follette Lancers football team during an unannounced stop at La Follette High School in Madison, Wis., Sept. 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets baseball fans during a Washington Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
For being fierce - when need be:
President Barack Obama receives an economic briefing in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, March 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
For having the intellect to be curious:
President Barack Obama admires a tapestry at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
For the capacity to know that you are, as we are, imperfect….
President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
For having the sense to not let it destroy you…
President Barack Obama smiles while talking with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the phone in the Oval Office, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Wishing you a Happy New Year
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!
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