Reporters & Radio Show Hosts Note Geithner's Unserious Obama Fiscal Cliff Plan
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The Senate reconvened and resumed consideration of S. 3254, the fiscal year 2013 Defense authorization bill.
This morning the Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) that would direct the Secretary of Defense “to ensure sufficient sizing of the civilian and contract services workforces.” Senators voted unanimously for an amendment from Sen. Bob Mendendez (D-NJ) for more sanctions on Iran. A motion to waive the Budget Act on an amendment from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) concerning annuities for surviving military spouses failed by a vote of 58-34.
Yesterday, the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to reduce the backlog of veterans’ benefit claims, and agreed to amendments from Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) that would allow the Pentagon to construct a biofuel refinery, from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to express the sense of Congress that combat operations in Afghanistan should end by the end of 2014, from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to expand TRICARE coverage to cover autism, from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to prohibit the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the US, and from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to prohibit indefinite detention of U.S. citizens or permanent residents apprehended in the U.S. without a charge or trial.
The House; reconvened and this morning considered and passed (245 - 139) H.R.6429 — STEM Jobs Act of 2012 which will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to promote innovation, investment, and research in the United States, to eliminate the diversity immigrant program, and for other purposes. The House moved to speeches by its members and is expected to adjourn until Monday.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (OH) issued a statement highlighting the $1.058 trillion in higher taxes coming from ObamaCare over the next ten years. Many of the tax increases take effect on January 1, 2013. Jordan said, “ObamaCare raises taxes on middle-income families, employers and investors. It hikes taxes on people with no health insurance, people with too little insurance and people with too much. Taxes are even going up on pacemakers, prosthetics, and other vital medical equipment. The ObamaCare tax hikes are a big part of the fiscal cliff. Stopping them should be part of the solution.”
Radio Show Host Kerby Anderson said today, "The so-called “fiscal cliff” is now just a month away and it appears Democrats are becoming less willing to negotiate and are doubling down on their positions. Rather than scheduling meetings with house Republicans to work on a solution, President Obama has gone back on the campaign trail in an effort to create pressure on Republicans to acquiesce to his demands. He has made it clear that he is willing to allow the nation to go over the fiscal cliff if tax rates don’t go up.
Earlier this week, Senator Richard Durban, the number two Democrat in the Senate, gave a speech in which he essentially took entitlement and spending reform completely off the table. At the same time, Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid announced that he plans to change the senate rules to eliminate the Republicans ability to filibuster legislation he wants to ram through on a simple majority.
A recent poll indicates that 67 percent of Americans expect our elected leaders to act like “spoiled children” in their handling of the fiscal cliff. It’s starting to look like they are right. Republicans are taking most of the blame for the lack of a compromise even though they are the ones actually trying to negotiate. In response to their efforts they are finding a total lack of urgency from the White House and Senate Democrats. According to a report in The Hill, 'A Democratic source close to the negotiations said that the White House 'definitely' sees running out the clock as to its advantage…'"
The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes reported yesterday, “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, says he ‘burst into laughter’ Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal for averting the fiscal cliff. He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts. Geithner’s visit to his office left McConnell discouraged about reaching a ‘balanced’ deal on tax hikes and spending reductions designed to prevent a shock to the economy in January. ‘Nothing good is happening’ in the negotiations, McConnell says, because of Obama’s insistence on tax rate hikes for the wealthy but unwillingness to embrace serious spending cuts.”
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s show last night, Sen. McConnell elaborated on his reaction. “You know, I did in fact laugh at him. I mean, it was, I wasn’t trying to embarrass him. It was a spontaneous report to an absolutely absurd suggestion. They’ve actually gone in the wrong direction over the last two weeks. $1.6 trillion dollars in tax increases, let’s take a look at it. . . . [I]t’s all on the usual poll-tested, oil and gas, raise the estate tax, there’s hardly anything they missed. It is a massive, whopping punch right in the nose to the American economy. I can’t imagine the Democrats would support it. I mean, Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, is certainly not going to support the estate tax proposal, Mary Landrieu, the Democrats from Louisiana, is not going to support the gas tax. Neither is Mark Begich of Alaska, completely unserious, and here we are witnessing the President running around the country thinking the campaign is not over yet. And they’re presenting laughable suggestions from the Secretary of the Treasury. He ought to be embarrassed to be asked to go up here and do something like that. It’s a serious blow to his credibility.”
Even The New York Times’ description of Geithner’s plan noted it was “loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts”: “Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits. The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.”
And The Washington Post pointed out that the proposal “mirrors previous White House deficit-reduction plans and satisfies Democrats’ demands” but “lacks any concessions to Republicans.”
Kimberley Strassel detailed today in the WSJ just how unserious the Geithner proposal was. “The president's team specified no amounts or details on spending cuts. Rather, the White House wants more spending. Oh, the White House also wants Congress to give Mr. Obama the authority to increase the debt limit, whenever he wants, as much as he wants. What do Republicans get in return? Next year, the White House will agree to talk to the GOP about cutting as much as $400 billion from entitlement programs. Maybe. If Democrats get around to it. Which they won't—because they'll have everything they've wanted.”
She adds, “How to put this tax-and-more-spending offer in perspective? It is far in excess of what the Democrats asked for in last year's debt-limit standoff—when the political configuration in Washington was exactly the same. It is far more than the president's own Democratic Senate has ever been able to pass, even with a filibuster-proof majority. It is far more than the president himself campaigned on this year. But the president's offer is very much in keeping with his history of insisting that every negotiation consist of the other side giving him everything he wants. That approach has given him the reputation as the modern president least able to forge a consensus.”
As Leader McConnell told Hugh Hewitt, “I can’t imagine that [red state Democrats] would vote for what the Secretary of the Treasury showed the Speaker and myself today. . . . This is, you know, absurd. . . . I think it’s all game playing. They want to make us look unreasonable. And you have to ask the question, to what end? There’s not an election for two years. The election is over. This is time to be governing. The posturing, the endless campaign, the never-ceasing finger pointing and blaming, you know, I know [the president is] upset about it, but he’s got a Republican House to deal with, and he’s got a non-inconsequential Republican minority in the Senate. He doesn’t own this Congress like he did . . . in 2009 and 2010. He can’t get anything he wants. Those days are over.”
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