Republican Senate Leader & House Speaker Address Democrats' Failure to Avert Fiscal Cliff
|We are Democrats! Did you really|
believe we would agree to cut spending?
The Senate reconvened and resumed consideration of S. 3254, the fiscal year 2013 Defense authorization bill. Votes on amendments are expected throughout the day.
Yesterday, the Senate began work on the Defense authorization bill. Notably, with an open amendment process allowed by majority Democrats for a change, no cloture motions were needed to begin debate on the bill, showing once again that the problem is not Senate filibuster rules. The Senate also voted 62-37 to adopt an amendment to the Defense authorization bill from Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) which removed a section from the bill designed to reduce DoD spending on alternative fuels. Senators also voted 85-11 to approve an amendment from Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) to strengthen benefits for first responders killed or disabled on the job.
The House reconvened and plans to debate whether they will take up for consideration 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. No other major issues are planned and it is expected the House will then adjourn until tomorrow.
Republican Senate Leader Says No to Raising Taxes:
It appears Senate Republicans have had enough with the failure of the Democratic Leadership to address spending and instead demanding higher taxes while threatening to change the rules of the Senate in January which would emasculate the minority party.
The Hill reports today that, “Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) slammed the door Thursday morning on Democratic demands to raise tax rates on families earning more than $250,000 per year. ‘We’re insisting on keeping tax rates where they are, first and foremost, to protect jobs and because we don’t think government needs the money in the first place,’ McConnell said on the Senate floor. ‘The problem, as I’ve said, is that Washington spends too much. But if more revenue is the price that Democrats want to exact, then we should at least agree to do it in a way that doesn’t cost jobs and disincentivize rates, as we all know raising rates would do,’ he said.”
Indeed, Democrats have focused on raising tax rates to the near exclusion of everything else, as even The New York Times notes today. “As the president and Congress hurtle toward a reckoning on the highest federal budget deficit in generations, Mr. Obama says he wants a ‘balanced’ approach to restoring the nation’s fiscal order. But the high-profile public campaign he has been waging in recent days has focused almost entirely on the tax side of the equation, with scant talk about his priorities when it comes to curbing spending. . . . In public statements since his re-election, he has barely discussed how he would pare back federal spending, focusing instead on the aspect of his plan that plays to his liberal base and involves all gain and no pain for 98 percent of taxpayers. Republicans and even some Democrats have expressed frustration that Mr. Obama has avoided a serious public discussion on spending with barely a month until deep automatic budget cuts and tax increases are scheduled to take effect.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sounded a similar note in the Senate this morning by demanding the House pass Senate Democrats’ bill raising tax rates and claiming that’s somehow “a solution to this looming crisis.”
GOP Leader McConnell explained again why the Democrat insistence on hiking tax rates is a bad idea: “A lot of people around here seem to have forgotten that we’re still in the middle of a jobs crisis. . . . National unemployment’s still just a hair below eight percent, and millions of Americans are still looking for work. So if it’s an iron law of economics that you get less of what you tax, why on earth would we want to raise taxes on work? Rates matter because they affect behavior. The higher the tax rate, the higher the disincentive to work. This isn’t just Republican orthodoxy. It’s basic economics. As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently put it: ‘Increasing revenues by raising marginal tax rates on labor would reduce people’s incentive to work and therefore reduce the amount of labor supplied to the economy’ which would . . . by itself ‘decrease output in the medium and long term.’ In the middle of a jobs crisis, that’s the last thing we want to do. Shouldn’t we all agree on that?”
He noted, “The government spends way too much money as it is, and frankly, I don’t think the Democrats are any more interested in using new revenue to lower the deficit now than they’ve ever been. But don’t tell me you have to raise rates to do it. It’s not true. And the longer Democrats keep saying it, the longer it’s going to take to come up with an agreement.”
McConnell concluded, “[T]he President needs to realize he wasn’t elected President of the hard-left wing of the Democratic Party. He was elected President of the United States. He’s the steward of the nation’s finances. He’s got a responsibility to everybody to work out an agreement. And that means he’s got to come up with something that can get through a Republican House. So, we’re still waiting on the President. We can get there. But he’s going to have to lead. And he can start by putting the campaign talking points on the shelf.”
Speaker of the House Called on Democrats For Their Plans To Cut Spending:
House Speaker John Boehner at a press conference today called on Democrats to outline their plan for serious spending cuts that are needed as part of any truly “balanced” plan to avert the fiscal cliff and help get the economy moving again. Boehner noted, Republicans have put forth a balanced plan that includes significant spending cuts and entitlement reforms to protect American families and small businesses from the fiscal cliff, and it is incumbent upon President Obama and Democrats to do the same.
Speaker Boehner noted, ". . . Based on where we stand today, I would say two things: First, despite claims that the president supports a ‘balanced’ approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. And secondly, no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks."
"Listen, this is not a game. Jobs are on the line. The American economy is on the line. And this is a moment for adult leadership. Campaign-style rallies and one-sided leaks in the press are not the way to get things done here in Washington.
“The Majority Leader and I just had a meeting with the Treasury Secretary. It was frank and it was direct. I was hopeful we’d see a specific plan for cutting spending. We sought to find out today what the president really is willing to do. . . . .
“Yesterday, our leadership team met with Erskine Bowles and business leaders about averting the fiscal cliff and achieving the ‘balanced’ approach the White House says it wants. And I’ve made clear that we’ve put real concessions on the line by putting revenues on the table right up front. Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement that will reduce our deficit. And Mr. Bowles . . . said yesterday there’s been no serious discussion of spending cuts so far -- and unless there is, there’s a real danger of going off the fiscal cliff.
“. . . [G]oing off the fiscal cliff will hurt our economy and it will cost American jobs. Republicans have taken action to avert the fiscal cliff by passing legislation to stop all the tax hikes, to replace the sequester, and pave the way for tax reform and entitlement reform And we’re the only ones with a balanced plan to protect the economy, protect American jobs, and protect the middle class from the fiscal cliff. But without spending cuts and entitlement reform, it’s going to be impossible to address our country’s debt crisis, and get our economy going again, and to create jobs.”
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