Under this law, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business will not see their income taxes go up. Millions of families will continue to receive tax breaks to help raise their kids and send them to college. Companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research that they do and investments they make and the clean energy jobs that they create. And two million Americans who are out of work — but out there looking, pounding the pavement every day — are gonna continue to receive unemployment benefits as long as they’re actively looking for a job.
But I think we all recognize this law is just one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and broaden opportunity for everybody. The fact is the deficit is still too high. And we’re still investing too little in the things that we need for the economy to grow as fast as it should. That’s why Speaker Boehner and I originally tried to negotiate a larger agreement that would put this country on a path to paying down its debt, while also putting Americans back to work, rebuilding our roads and bridges, and providing investment in areas like education and job training.
Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough support or time for that kind of large agreement in a lame-duck session of Congress. And that failure comes with a cost, as the messy nature of the process over the past several weeks has made business more uncertain, and consumers less confident.
But we are continuing to chip away at this problem, step by step. Last year, I signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. Tonight’s agreement further reduces the deficit by raising $620 billion in revenue from the wealthiest households in America, and there will be more deficit reduction as Congress decides what to do about the automatic spending cuts that we have now delayed for two months.
… As I’ve demonstrated throughout the past several weeks, I am very open to compromise. I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of healthcare makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit. I believe we’ve gotta find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive. And I believe there’s further unnecessary spending in government that we can eliminate.
But we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity. Cutting spending has to go hand-in-hand with further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can’t take advantage of loopholes and deduction that aren’t available to most Americans. And we can’t keep cutting things like basic research and new technology and still expect to succeed in a 21st-century economy. So we’re gonna have to continue to move forward in deficit reduction, but we have to do it in a balanced way — making sure that we are growing, even as we get a handle on our spending.
… While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed. Let me repeat: we can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic — far worse than the impact of the fiscal cliff. People will remember back in 2011, the last time this course of action (over the debt ceiling) was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk: consumer confidence plunged; business investment plunged; growth dropped. We can’t go down that path again.”
– President BARACK OBAMA
The March of The Castrated and Constipated.
(Photo of House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Eric “In Another Life, I Was The Bad Guy In The First Karate Kid Movie” Cantor by TJ Kilpatrick / The New York Times)
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. used his year-end report on the federal judiciary to give Congressional budget negotiators a little nudge.
“Our country faces new challenges, including the much-publicized ‘fiscal cliff’ and the longer-term problem of a truly extravagant and burgeoning national debt,” he wrote. “No one seriously doubts that the country’s fiscal ledger has gone awry. The public properly looks to its elected officials to craft a solution.”
The chief justice said that his branch of the government provided an example of doing much with few resources. The federal judiciary makes do with a budget appropriation of about $7 billion, he wrote, “a mere two-tenths of 1 percent of the United States’ total budget of $3.7 trillion.”
“Yes,” he went on, “for each citizen’s tax dollar, only two-tenths of one penny goes toward funding the entire third branch of government!”
In the report, Chief Justice Roberts said the judiciary was doing what it could to cut costs in rent, salaries and computer services. The Supreme Court “continues to set a good example,” he said, asking for a smaller appropriation in the last fiscal year than in the previous one. This fiscal year, the request rose slightly, “largely in response to new judicial security needs,” he said. He did not elaborate.”
From the dude who all but gave us healthcare reform, a reminder of how to do a lot with very little dickishness.
The Senate, in a pre-dawn vote two hours after the deadline passed to avert automatic tax increases, overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday that would allow tax rates to rise only on affluent Americans while temporarily suspending sweeping, across-the-board spending cuts.
The deal, worked out in furious negotiations between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, passed 89 to 8, with just three Democrats and five Republicans voting no. Although it lost the support of some of the Senate’s most conservative members, the broad coalition that pushed the accord across the finish line could portend swift House passage as early as New Year’s Day.
Quick passage before the markets reopen on Wednesday would likely negate any economic damage from Tuesday’s breach of the so-called “fiscal cliff” and largely spare the nation’s economy from the one-two punch of large tax increases and across-the-board military and domestic spending cuts in the New Year.
“This shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here,” Mr. McConnell said just after 1:30 a.m. “But I think we can say we’ve done some good for the country.”
Mr. Biden, after a late New Year’s Eve meeting with leery Senate Democrats to sell the accord, said: “You surely shouldn’t predict how the House is going to vote. But I feel very, very good.”
The eight senators who voted no included Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, two of the Senate’s most ardent small-government Republicans, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who as a former Finance Committee chairman helped secure passage of the Bush-era tax cuts, then opposed making almost all of them permanent on Tuesday. Two moderate Democrats, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado, also voted no, as did the liberal Democrat Tom Harkin, who said the White House had given away too much in the compromise. Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, also voted no.”
– The New York Times, "Senate Passes Legislation to Allow Taxes on Affluent to Rise"
Let’s watch the House Republicans screw this up.
I realize that the last thing you want to hear on New Year’s Eve is another speech from me. But I do need to talk about the progress that’s being made in Congress today.
For the last few days, leaders in both parties have been working toward an agreement that will prevent a middle-class tax hike from hitting 98 percent of all Americans starting tomorrow. That has been my top priority, because the last thing folks like (those) up here on this stage can afford right now is to pay an extra $2,000 in taxes next year. Middle-class families can’t afford it; businesses can’t afford it; our economy can’t afford it.
Now today, it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year’s tax hike is within sight. But it’s not done. There are still issues left to resolve, but we’re hopeful Congress can get it done. But it’s not done.
…The potential agreement that’s being talked about would not only make sure that taxes don’t go up on middle-class families — it also would extend tax credits for families with children; it would extend our tuition tax credit that’s helped millions of families pay for college; it would extend tax credits for clean energy companies that are creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil; it would extend unemployment insurance for two million Americans who are out there, still actively looking for a job.
I have to say that ever since I took office, throughout the campaign, and over the last couple of months, my preference would have been to solve all these problems in the context of larger agreement, a bigger deal, a ‘grand bargain’ — whatever you wanna call it — that solves our deficit problems in a balanced and responsible way, that doesn’t just deal with the taxes, but deals with the spending so we can put all this behind us and focus on growing our economy.
But with this Congress, that was obviously a little too much to hope for at this time. (Laughter from audience.) And maybe we can do it in stages. …Last year, we started reducing the deficit through $1 trillion in spending cuts; those have already taken place. The agreement being worked on right now would further reduce the deficit by asking the wealthiest two percent of Americans to pay higher taxes for the first time in two decades, (and) that would add additional hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction. So that’s progress — but we’re gonna need to do more.
Keep in mind that just last month, Republicans in Congress said they would never agree to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Obviously, the agreement that’s being currently discussed would raise those rates, and raise them permanently. But keep in mind, we’re gonna still have more work to do. We still have deficits that have to be dealt with; we’re still gonna have to think about how we put our economy on a long term trajectory of growth. How we continue to make investments in things like education, things like infrastructure, that help our economy grow.
…I’m willing to reduce our government’s Medicare bills by finding new ways to reduce the cost of healthcare in this country. …There’s still more work to be done in the tax code to make it fair even as we’re also looking at how we could strengthen something like Medicare. Now if Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone — and you hear that sometimes coming from them, that after today, we’re just gonna try to shove only spending cuts at us that will hurt seniors, or hurt students, or hurt middle class families without asking equivalent sacrifices from millionaires or companies with a lot of lobbyists — then they’ve got another think coming.
That’s not that’s gonna work. We’re gonna do this in a balanced and responsible way, and if we’re serious about deficit reduction and debt reduction, then it’s gonna have to be a matter of shared sacrifice. At least as long as I’m President.”
– President BARACK OBAMA, updating the nation on the fiscal cliff talks.
Stop talking about how politicians in Washington are “scrambling” to resolve the fiscal cliff crisis. That implies action on the part of members of Congress, which is of course a fucking joke.
They aren’t so much “scrambling” as they’ve been lollygagging and playing chicken with the economic health of every single American. It’s time for journalists to stop giving these fuckheads airtime and column inches so they can continue their partisan battles.
Y’all instead should be asking why we’ve even arrived at this point — a “deadline” that Congress itself created MONTHS ago, and only now, at the witching hour, are they trying to resolve. Expose these assholes for the do-nothing shitfucks they are.
Do your fucking jobs because members of Congress sure as Hell aren’t doing theirs.