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Old 07-20-2012, 10:41 AM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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The Fiscal Cliff Approacheth

In an effort to make this thread sticky-worthy, I am going to update this OP to keep casual glancers informed.

This post is the official one-stop shopping of the key points/developments of the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Far as I understand, the fiscal cliff:

1. Gets rid of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
2. Gets rid of the Bush tax cuts for everybody else.
3. Slashes defense spending by something like $500 billion.
4. Slashes domestic programs like the NIH, Head Start, and medicine/drug care for the poor by $500 billion.

The new idea is for Democrats to allow the cliff to hit, then immediately introduce a bill that would bring 2, 4, and some of 3 back. But not 1.

Here is a chart detailing exactly what the fiscal cliff is going to do, financially:

Spoiler!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
New CBO projection: if the fiscal cliff hits, we are in another recession, and lose two million jobs.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...87L0JV20120822
The poor would be hurt by the fiscal cliff:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Overall, if the tax breaks from the 2009 stimulus are allowed to expire—the EITC and Child Tax Credit expansions, along with American Opportunity Credit for college tuition—the poorest 20 percent of Americans would see their taxes go up by $209 on average, reducing their after-tax income by 1.9 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.
As would the middle class:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
According to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, more than half of all married couples will owe an additional tax of around $4,000 unless Congress acts. And more than a third of families with children will fall subject to the AMT, with parents of three or more children facing an extra tax of $4,700.

Among married couples with at least two children and adjusted gross income between $75,000 and $100,000, the center estimates that 84 percent will face a significantly higher tax bill this year because of the AMT.
There seems to be some consensus between the parties that substantial revenues want to be raised. Boehner and the GOP hopes that's through limiting tax deductions rather than tax raises.

Obama's opening offer, essentially:

Quote:
  • Allow the Bush tax cuts on high earners to expire. $849 billion
  • Limit itemized deductions to 28 percent, close some loopholes and deductions on high earners, eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies, eliminate the carried interest loophole, plus a few other items. $584 billion
  • Create a special "Buffett Rule" tax rate for millionaires. $47 billion
  • Restore the estate tax to 2009 levels. $143 billion
  • Limit corporate income shifting to low-tax countries. $148 billion
  • Other miscellaneous tax increases and reductions. About -$200 billion
  • Total: $1.6 trillion

Last edited by Direckshun; 11-14-2012 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:52 PM   #331
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The problem with making a "complete" proposal is that it becomes the starting point for negotiations. So if you say, "Hey - here's the tax raise/revenue cut ballance that I think both sides can agree to and can make it through Congess and the President", both sides will try to negotiate away from that. But if each side starts with there "ideal" offer, they can start trading back and forth as they move towards eachother.

I'm sure the public comments right now have little resemblance to what's going on. Both are just posturing and trying to get leverage (and media attention).
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:58 AM   #332
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Obama has now stated that he will not make any new offers until the GOP agrees to hike rates for the wealthy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...c680_blog.html

No, Dems don't need to compromise up front
By Greg Sargent
Posted at 01:47 PM ET, 11/30/2012

Yesterday, Republicans reacted with outrage when the White House offered an opening bid loaded with Democratic priorities -- $1.6 trillion in new tax revenues, an extension of unemployment insurance, and more stimulus spending. Though Dems offered $400 billion in Medicare cuts, what angered Republicans was that Dems didn't suggest greater spending cuts -- they didn't volunteer big concessions up front -- leading Republicans to dismiss the offer as "unserious."

The basic problem for Republicans here is that Democrats don't have to offer big concessions up front. This is true because of basic common sense -- if Republicans say no deal is possible without "serious" spending cuts, they need to tell us what spending cuts they consider "serious," or the talks can't go anywhere. (It's striking that some pundits are ignoring this basic reality and playing along with GOP claims.) But it's also true because of the uniqueness of this set of negotiations -- specifically, if we do nothing, Democrats will get their way. All the tax cuts will expire, and Dems can come back and push a new tax cut just for the middle class -- a circumstance that will only increase the Dems' leverage further.

This has created a fundamentally unbalanced situation. If we do nothing, the fate of the tax rates for the middle class will automatically become "decoupled" from the fate of tax rates for the rich. Dems want that to happen. Republicans, by contrast, want the fate of the two sets of tax rates to remain bound together as one. This has created an awkward situation that some conservatives will cop to and others won't. Some, like GOP Rep. Tom Cole and a growing number of Republicans, willingly admit that the current situation is lost and that Dems have much of the leverage here. Others are in denial about this -- as Matt Lewis writes, conservatives who think Republicans have the leverage are guilty of "the same kind of happy thinking that led some to boldly predict a Romney victory."

Worse for Republicans, Obama has a simple way to exacerbate the fundamental imbalance of the situation. He can continue to call on Republicans to extend just the middle class tax cuts, since everyone agrees on extending those -- and claim we can resolve the point of disagreement over the tax rates on the rich later. This forces Republicans to say No to this (because they need the two to remain tied together), further unmasking just how a high priority they place on keeping taxes low on the rich -- they are willing to create uncertainty for millions of middle class families to achieve it.

In his remarks today at a toy factory in Pennsylvania, Obama hit just these points:

Quote:
"Both parties agree we should extend the middle class tax cuts. We've got some disagreements about the high end tax cuts But we already all agree, we say, on making sure middle class tax cuts don't go up. So let's get that done the Senate has already passed a bill to keep income taxes from going up on middle class families if we can get a few House Republicans on board, we can pass the bill in the House. It will land on my desk. And I am ready. I've got a bunch of pens ready to sign this bill.

"It's not acceptable to me, and I don't think it's acceptable to you, for just a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle class tax cuts hostage, simply because they don't want tax rates on upper income folks to go up."
The big remaining unknown in this situation is how willing the White House is to go over the cliff. If it genuinely is willing to let that happen, the fundamental imbalance of the situation remains. If not, as Digby points out, we can't know yet what Dems are truly willing to give up to reach a deal. But the White House opening bid is certainly grounds for optimism. Its basic message is: We don't need to play on your turf; you need to play on ours. And in truth, that is the situation in a nutshell.

Mitch McConnell reportedly laughed when he saw the Dem opening bid yesterday. If Republicans want to tell us what spending cuts they need to consider the Democratic offer "serious," by all means, they should do that. And Dems should give it serious consideration. But Democrats do not need to offer a "compromise" up front that Republicans can then denounce as insufficient, dragging the debate further and further in their direction. This isn't 2011 anymore.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:00 AM   #333
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Obama's offer also reportedly asked to end Congress' control over the debt limit.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:05 AM   #334
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The Senate has already passed a bill extending the Bush tax cuts to everybody below $250,000.

Pelosi is now threatening to bring that bill to a vote in the House under a "discharge petition," which automatically brings it to the floor without Boehner being able to stamp it out. Brilliant:

Quote:
Under a "discharge petition," a bill can be brought to the floor without going through a committee or without approval of House leadership. The bill would need an absolute majority - 218 votes - to pass.

While there are only 192 Democrats in the House, some Republicans have expressed support for the bill.
If Democrats do this, they are forcing the Republicans to either (a.) vote no against middle-class tax cuts, or (b.) vote yes on them, decouple them from tax rates for the wealthy, and give Democrats tremendous leverage as we hurtle towards the fiscal cliff.

We've got a month to go. I don't think the GOP is going to budge for at least a month and a half if not two full months (since this deadline is actually February, not December 31st), and they are going to huff, puff, and breathe fire to drag down Obama's standing as much as possible.

But if the Democrats hold at this point the whole time, Republicans are going to have to give and the Democrats are going to get a deal even better than the 2.5:1 spending cuts-to-new revenue ratio that Obama prescribed shortly before the election.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:09 AM   #335
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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/us...politics&_r=2&

Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line
By PETER BAKER
Published: December 2, 2012

WASHINGTON — Amid demands from Republicans that President Obama propose detailed new spending cuts to avert the year-end fiscal crisis, his answer boils down to this: you first.

Mr. Obama, scarred by failed negotiations in his first term and emboldened by a clear if close election to a second, has emerged as a different kind of negotiator in the past week or two, sticking to the liberal line and frustrating Republicans on the other side of the bargaining table.

Disciplined and unyielding, he argues for raising taxes on the wealthy while offering nothing new to rein in spending and overhaul entitlement programs beyond what was on the table last year. Until Republicans offer their own new plan, Mr. Obama will not alter his. In effect, he is trying to leverage what he claims as an election mandate to force Republicans to take ownership of the difficult choices ahead.

His approach is born of painful experience. In his first four years in office, Mr. Obama has repeatedly offered what he considered compromises on stimulus spending, health care and deficit reduction to Republicans, who either rejected them as inadequate or pocketed them and insisted on more. Republicans argued that Mr. Obama never made serious efforts at compromise and instead lectured them about what they ought to want rather than listening to what they did want.

Either way, the two sides were left at loggerheads over the weekend with less than a month until a series of painful tax increases and spending cuts automatically take effect, risking what economists say would be a new recession.

Mr. Obama refuses to propose more spending cuts until Republicans accept higher tax rates on the wealthy, and Republicans refuse to accept higher tax rates on the wealthy while asking for more spending cuts.

“I’m puzzled why Republicans are locking into a principle that’s not sustainable and why Democrats aren’t taking the moment to put forward their own vision of entitlement reform,” said Peter R. Orszag, a former White House budget director for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Orszag’s former White House colleagues said they had grown tired of making unilateral concessions only to see Republicans moving the goal posts, as they see it. “The president is not going to negotiate with himself,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “He’s laid out his position, and Republicans have to come to the table.”

Republican strategists argue that in resorting to campaign-style events to take his fiscal message to voters, Mr. Obama is overplaying his hand, much as President George W. Bush did after his re-election when he barnstormed the country in favor of a Social Security restructuring plan that he never successfully sold to leaders on Capitol Hill.

“He is overreading his mandate,” said John Feehery, a former adviser to top House Republicans. “By doing the campaign thing, he is making the same mistake Bush made in 2005.” Eventually, he said, Democratic and Republican leaders “are going to cut the deal, and Obama is going to be on the outside looking in.”

The difference might be that Mr. Obama ran more explicitly on the idea of letting Mr. Bush’s tax cuts expire for incomes over $250,000, while Mr. Bush’s re-election was fought more on grounds of national security than Social Security. But both presidents emerged from relatively narrow popular-vote victories determined to impose their will on a balky Congress resisting their leadership.

Mr. Obama seemed to defy the Republican House last week when Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner delivered a plan calling for $1.6 trillion in additional taxes from the wealthy over 10 years, as well as $50 billion in short-term stimulus spending and $612 billion in recycled cuts first put on the table during last year’s failed debt talks.

Republicans erupted in outrage, though they produced no specific alternative. Instead, they noted they had expressed newfound willingness since the election to increase tax revenue by limiting deductions for the wealthy, though not by raising rates.

The administration laid out its latest plan in less formal ways a couple of weeks earlier, according to a senior official who declined to be identified discussing private deliberations. But the message was that Speaker John A. Boehner could not move yet. After waiting with no further response, the administration decided to have Mr. Geithner deliver the proposal on paper knowing it would be provocative but thinking it was needed to move the process along.

Instead, the process has collapsed, at least for now. The depth of disagreement played out on the Sunday morning talk shows, even as Mr. Obama went golfing with former President Bill Clinton in a session that White House officials presumed would include trading notes about the fiscal crisis.

“We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved,” Mr. Boehner said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But the White House has responded with virtually nothing. They have actually asked for more revenue than they’ve been asking for the whole entire time.”

Mr. Geithner said it was up to Republicans to outline more spending cuts than Mr. Obama had previously put on the table. “Some Republicans apparently want to go beyond that, but what they have to do is tell us what they’re prepared to do,” Mr. Geithner told Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And what we can’t do, Bob, is sit here trying to guess what works for them.”

That represents something of a shift for Mr. Obama, who did try to guess what worked for Republicans in his first term. When he crafted a stimulus spending program to bolster the economy shortly after taking office, Mr. Obama devoted roughly a third of the money to tax cuts that he assumed Republicans would like. They did not. Likewise, his framework for universal health care included free-market elements that he thought Republicans would embrace. They did not.

While Republicans argued that the overall programs overshadowed any palatable aspects, Mr. Obama came to believe he had made a mistake in offering concessions up front. In an interview in September 2010, he said he had learned “that if you already have a third of the package as tax cuts, then the Republicans, who traditionally are more comfortable with tax cuts, may just pocket that and attack the other components of the program.”

Aides said Mr. Obama came to the same conclusion after his clash with Republicans over raising the nation’s borrowing limit last year. “We put all these things on the table, and the reason we couldn’t do a deal is because Republicans couldn’t do revenues,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “So our view here is the president won’t sign a deal that doesn’t have higher rates for the wealthy. Until they cross that bridge, nothing else is relevant.”

Yet there is risk in that. Republicans now understand that higher tax rates on the wealthy is Mr. Obama’s No. 1 priority, so rather than give in, some strategists say they should hold out to leverage those to shape other aspects of a final deal.

“He only cares about one detail: raising rates on the top two brackets,” said Tony Fratto, a former White House and Treasury Department official under Mr. Bush. “Everything else is secondary. That’s why if that is going to happen, it will be last if Republicans can hold out. I think it’s pretty clear Obama will sacrifice just about anything to get that. It’s the only win for him.”
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:37 AM   #336
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Boehner over the weekend claimed the House GOP is willing to put $800 billion on the table in new revenue -- though he did not specify at all where that money would come from, but he said it could be done without raising top tax rates.

The Tax Policy Center noted that that's impossible without eliminating deductions for, or increasing taxes on, the middle class.

It has also been noted that this is a smaller deal than the ones Republicans were thisclose to agreeing to last year, before they got crushed in the elections.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:45 AM   #337
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For completeness sakes, this was posted in another thread.

Obama's proposed $400 billion Medicare cuts:

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Old 12-03-2012, 10:17 AM   #338
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Obama's offer also reportedly asked to end Congress' control over the debt limit.
Which is insanely idiotic
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:04 AM   #339
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The Fiscal Cliff is getting near, I'd better spend a few million taxpayer dollars on a 3 week trip to Hawaii.....
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:25 AM   #340
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Can anyone in the know post information on what spending cuts the administration has in their plan?
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:29 AM   #341
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Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
Can anyone in the know post information on what spending cuts the administration has in their plan?
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Obama's offer also reportedly asked to end Congress' control over the debt limit.
It's right here.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:38 PM   #342
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Which is insanely idiotic
Mmmm, not so sure.

It doesn't really do anything. No other Western democracy has one.

All it does is freak out the markets, and tank the economy in high-profile debt limit disputes.

Republicans are already planning another one, for instance.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:45 PM   #343
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Still no counteroffer.

This is the GOP's master plan? Do nothing?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...st+Articles%29

On the Fiscal Cliff, Republicans Got Nothin’
It’s Day 26 of the fiscal-cliff hostage situation, and it’s clear that GOP negotiators have lost touch with reality. Daniel Gross on their astounding lack of a counteroffer to the Dems.
by Daniel Gross
Dec 2, 2012 6:35 PM EST

Adrenaline-filled, aggressive combatants paraded around on national television and started trash-talking, aiming to intimidate their opponents and get inside their heads. Oh, and the National Football League also played some games.

Sunday, Dec. 2, was Day 26 of the fiscal cliff hostage situation. And the Democrats, who gained an immense advantage in the negotiations over future tax rates by virtue of their victories in the election, seem, finally, to be developing some swagger. Their tone toward the Republicans has become somewhat patronizing. First, there was President Obama’s mid-week invitation of Mitt Romney to lunch at the White House, which was simultaneously magnanimous and a pretty naked power move. Romney couldn’t refuse to come without looking like an extremely sore loser. The single photo released, which quickly went viral, showed Obama giving Romney the kind of good-try handshake that coaches deliver to their opponents after a thorough spanking.

In the past, the modus operandi from the White House on tax and spending issues was a tone poem of tortured frustration, self-criticism, and bargaining. They’d make a middle-of-the-road proposal and then very quickly move off it, failing to appease Republicans and demoralizing the base. But this time is different. Now, the Republicans are compromising and demoralizing their base. The Obama White House is largely standing back and watching with glee as congressmen line up to abandon Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge. (My personal favorite is Rep. Chris Gibson of New York, who said his pledge doesn’t count anymore because, thanks to redrawing of the map, he now represents a different district.) Republicans have generally conceded that a deal will have to include more revenue, but insist now that new revenue arises solely from closing loopholes and capping deductions.

The Democrats are essentially pocketing the Republicans’ capitulation on revenue and asking for much more—they’ve adopted the old GOP strategy of simply repeating their desires as a method of bargaining. The first proposal, which Obama offered late last week, asked for lots of tax increases, plus some stimulus measures, and offered close to nothing on entitlements. Its chief plank was for marginal rates on high incomes to rise. And this time, the Democrats are confident that the Republicans’ cave on revenue is just the beginning. “I don’t think Republicans are willing to shut down the government over 2 percent of the country,” said top economic aide Jason Furman at an on-the-record briefing last week.

The psychological warfare can also be seen in the patronizing tone Democratic officials are now taking toward the Republicans. The Republican leaders, who used to throw terror into Democrats, are now objects of pity. There was Sen. Claire McCaskill, fresh after dispatching Tea Party loon Todd Akin, on Meet the Press. “I feel almost sorry for John Boehner,” McCaskill said. “There is incredible pressure on him from a base of his party that is unreasonable about this. And he’s gotta decide, is his speakership more important, or is the country more important.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner took to the Sunday talk shows, too. For the last several years, Geithner has occupied perhaps the most unenviable position in Washington. He’s been like a quarterback operating behind an offensive lined composed solely of rookies. Time after time, he’s been blitzed—from the right and the left—on the bailouts, aid to the auto industry, and slow movement on mortgage aid. But on Sunday he was the one expressing empathy for poor John Boehner. “They’re in kind of a tough position now,” Geithner said on Fox News Sunday. “They’re trying to figure out how to find a way to support things that they know they’re gonna have to do. That’s going to be hard for them.” (Note: the very willingness of Geithner to appear on a Fox program is a sign of the administration’s newfound confidence.) Geithner pounded home the Obama administration’s talking point: we’ve put forward our plan. If the Republicans don’t like it, they should put forward their own.

In response, the Republicans countered with an offense that resembled that of the feckless Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The passes were all over the map and failed to connect. Some key players were fatalistic. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Boehner both conceded that we may well go over the cliff. Others denied they had a role to play. Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Tom Cole said, “I don’t think we need to put a formal proposal out on the table.” Dan Senor, a Romney foreign policy adviser, proclaimed that Obama’s proposal, the one that caused Mitch McConnell to laugh out loud, and that “flabbergasted” Boehner, was too far to the left.

The reality should be seeping in to viewers of the Sunday shows that the Republicans don’t have a game plan. They don’t have a single, specific proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff. And even if they had one, they don’t have a roadmap to get there. They keep expecting Obama to come back with something more to their liking, which they’d also reject. Many Republicans literally don’t understand what is happening. Sen. Charles Grassley tweeted over the weekend that he was frustrated that President Obama hadn’t embraced the recommendation of the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Apparently, he is one of the many people in Washington who doesn’t understand that Bowles-Simpson recommended letting the Bush tax rates on the wealthy expire, while also proposing to cap or eliminate deductions primarily enjoyed by the wealthy.

Above all, the Republicans have yet to grasp that the field is tilted against them. Republicans have every reason to expect, based on their scouting of past Obama performances, that he will start moving toward them and then, essentially, bargain with himself. But now he doesn’t have to. Right now, the policy choice isn’t between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and a preferred Republican proposal. No, the choice is between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and the fiscal cliff, which Republicans would like even less and the Democrats could live with for a while.

The Republicans are losing, and time is running out. But instead of putting the quarterback on the field and rolling out an aggressive two-minute drill, they seem to be preparing to punt.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:53 PM   #344
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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President of the New York Fed with some thoughts:

Quote:
fiscal consolidation must be accomplished in a way that avoids derailing the economic recovery. The best way to do this is to craft a plan that starts small in terms of its near-term impact, then grows very substantially over time as the economy grows healthier. Of course this requires that the longer-term consolidation is truly credible. It is also important that any plan have broad bipartisan support so that that households and businesses understand that it will in fact be carried out.
Quote:
If a credible bipartisan agreement is reached, it will strengthen global confidence in the U.S. and underscore to the world that our country remains a great place to do business and invest in. Failure would suggest a degree of political dysfunction that could undermine U.S. economic leadership and could encourage global corporations and investors to invest elsewhere.

Make no mistake: Credible fiscal consolidation will not be painless, no matter what form it takes. The burden will be felt across many sectors of the economy and we must expect that the resulting fiscal drag will exert some restraint on economic growth.

Nevertheless, there is no reason why a carefully crafted plan would need to put the economic recovery at risk. A credible plan, after all, would likely have very positive effects on confidence. In particular, I believe that business investment would respond positively to a credible plan.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:21 PM   #345
donkhater donkhater is offline
Brilliant!!
 
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Still no counteroffer.

This is the GOP's master plan? Do nothing?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...st+Articles%29

On the Fiscal Cliff, Republicans Got Nothin’
It’s Day 26 of the fiscal-cliff hostage situation, and it’s clear that GOP negotiators have lost touch with reality. Daniel Gross on their astounding lack of a counteroffer to the Dems.
by Daniel Gross
Dec 2, 2012 6:35 PM EST

Adrenaline-filled, aggressive combatants paraded around on national television and started trash-talking, aiming to intimidate their opponents and get inside their heads. Oh, and the National Football League also played some games.

Sunday, Dec. 2, was Day 26 of the fiscal cliff hostage situation. And the Democrats, who gained an immense advantage in the negotiations over future tax rates by virtue of their victories in the election, seem, finally, to be developing some swagger. Their tone toward the Republicans has become somewhat patronizing. First, there was President Obama’s mid-week invitation of Mitt Romney to lunch at the White House, which was simultaneously magnanimous and a pretty naked power move. Romney couldn’t refuse to come without looking like an extremely sore loser. The single photo released, which quickly went viral, showed Obama giving Romney the kind of good-try handshake that coaches deliver to their opponents after a thorough spanking.

In the past, the modus operandi from the White House on tax and spending issues was a tone poem of tortured frustration, self-criticism, and bargaining. They’d make a middle-of-the-road proposal and then very quickly move off it, failing to appease Republicans and demoralizing the base. But this time is different. Now, the Republicans are compromising and demoralizing their base. The Obama White House is largely standing back and watching with glee as congressmen line up to abandon Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge. (My personal favorite is Rep. Chris Gibson of New York, who said his pledge doesn’t count anymore because, thanks to redrawing of the map, he now represents a different district.) Republicans have generally conceded that a deal will have to include more revenue, but insist now that new revenue arises solely from closing loopholes and capping deductions.

The Democrats are essentially pocketing the Republicans’ capitulation on revenue and asking for much more—they’ve adopted the old GOP strategy of simply repeating their desires as a method of bargaining. The first proposal, which Obama offered late last week, asked for lots of tax increases, plus some stimulus measures, and offered close to nothing on entitlements. Its chief plank was for marginal rates on high incomes to rise. And this time, the Democrats are confident that the Republicans’ cave on revenue is just the beginning. “I don’t think Republicans are willing to shut down the government over 2 percent of the country,” said top economic aide Jason Furman at an on-the-record briefing last week.

The psychological warfare can also be seen in the patronizing tone Democratic officials are now taking toward the Republicans. The Republican leaders, who used to throw terror into Democrats, are now objects of pity. There was Sen. Claire McCaskill, fresh after dispatching Tea Party loon Todd Akin, on Meet the Press. “I feel almost sorry for John Boehner,” McCaskill said. “There is incredible pressure on him from a base of his party that is unreasonable about this. And he’s gotta decide, is his speakership more important, or is the country more important.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner took to the Sunday talk shows, too. For the last several years, Geithner has occupied perhaps the most unenviable position in Washington. He’s been like a quarterback operating behind an offensive lined composed solely of rookies. Time after time, he’s been blitzed—from the right and the left—on the bailouts, aid to the auto industry, and slow movement on mortgage aid. But on Sunday he was the one expressing empathy for poor John Boehner. “They’re in kind of a tough position now,” Geithner said on Fox News Sunday. “They’re trying to figure out how to find a way to support things that they know they’re gonna have to do. That’s going to be hard for them.” (Note: the very willingness of Geithner to appear on a Fox program is a sign of the administration’s newfound confidence.) Geithner pounded home the Obama administration’s talking point: we’ve put forward our plan. If the Republicans don’t like it, they should put forward their own.

In response, the Republicans countered with an offense that resembled that of the feckless Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The passes were all over the map and failed to connect. Some key players were fatalistic. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Boehner both conceded that we may well go over the cliff. Others denied they had a role to play. Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Tom Cole said, “I don’t think we need to put a formal proposal out on the table.” Dan Senor, a Romney foreign policy adviser, proclaimed that Obama’s proposal, the one that caused Mitch McConnell to laugh out loud, and that “flabbergasted” Boehner, was too far to the left.

The reality should be seeping in to viewers of the Sunday shows that the Republicans don’t have a game plan. They don’t have a single, specific proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff. And even if they had one, they don’t have a roadmap to get there. They keep expecting Obama to come back with something more to their liking, which they’d also reject. Many Republicans literally don’t understand what is happening. Sen. Charles Grassley tweeted over the weekend that he was frustrated that President Obama hadn’t embraced the recommendation of the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Apparently, he is one of the many people in Washington who doesn’t understand that Bowles-Simpson recommended letting the Bush tax rates on the wealthy expire, while also proposing to cap or eliminate deductions primarily enjoyed by the wealthy.

Above all, the Republicans have yet to grasp that the field is tilted against them. Republicans have every reason to expect, based on their scouting of past Obama performances, that he will start moving toward them and then, essentially, bargain with himself. But now he doesn’t have to. Right now, the policy choice isn’t between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and a preferred Republican proposal. No, the choice is between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and the fiscal cliff, which Republicans would like even less and the Democrats could live with for a while.

The Republicans are losing, and time is running out. But instead of putting the quarterback on the field and rolling out an aggressive two-minute drill, they seem to be preparing to punt.
I love this.

Never mind the budgets that they've proposed, voted on and passed through the House over the last couple of years.

Never mind that the administration is intentionally vague on spending cuts and/or defers it to the GOP so that they can demagouge the hell out of it when it IS proposed (throw grandma over the cliff?)

Never mind that the Democrats actually sought to be in leadership positions yet are waiting for the minority to take the lead.

Never mind that Obama himself said that Republicans should stop driving the road into the ditch. He is in charge, he won, so he gets to drive. Tax cuts on the wealthy. What's for the other 357 days of the year?

Pathetic. If the Democrats, after seeing the budgets proposed, sitting through Simpson-Bowles and the Super committee negotiations don't know what the Republicans are wanting, then they are even dumber than I thought, which puts them right above an amoeba.
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