Political Headlines February 21, 2013: Bob Woodward: Obama’s sequester deal-changer

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Obama’s sequester deal-changer

Source: Bob Woodward, WaPo, 2-23-13

Misunderstanding, misstatements and all the classic contortions of partisan message management surround the sequester, the term for the $85 billion in ugly and largely irrational federal spending cuts set by law to begin Friday.

What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 3, 2013: President Barack Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill Via Autopen

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President Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill Via Autopen

Source: ABC  News Radio, 1-3-12

The White House

President Obama has signed the “fiscal cliff” legislation into law via autopen from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.

The bill to avert the fiscal cliff arrived at the White House late Wednesday afternoon and it was immediately processed, according to a senior White House official. A copy was delivered to the president in Hawaii for review. He then directed the bill to be signed by autopen back in Washington, D.C….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: Gov. Chris Christie Finds Speaker John Boehner’s Actions ‘Disgusting’ for Adjourning the House before Vote on Sandy Relief

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Sandy Relief: Christie Finds Boehner’s Actions ‘Disgusting’

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-13

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that it was “disgusting” that the House adjourned without voting on a $60 billion relief package for the victims of superstorm Sandy and put the blame squarely on a fellow Republican — House Speaker John Boehner.

Christie, who is considered a possible Republican presidential candidate four years from now, said there was “only one group to blame, the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner.”

The blunt talking New Jersey governor joined a chorus of Republicans from New York and New Jersey fuming over Boehner’s decision to pull the bill at the last minute….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: Governors Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo & Lawmakers from New York & New Jersey Furious over Failure to Allocate ‘Sandy’ Funds

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Lawmakers Furious over Failure to Allocate ‘Sandy’ Funds

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-13

ABC News

Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey whose storm-ravaged residents are desperate for federal aid are fuming at their party’s leaders for refusing to hold a vote on a $60 billion disaster relief package, despite promises that help was on the way….

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, called it a “dereliction of duty” in a joint statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.

“This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented,” the governors said….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: President Barack Obama Hails ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal, Warns Congress of Next Fiscal Fight

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Obama Hails ‘Cliff’ Deal, Warns of Next Fiscal Fight

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-12

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Minutes after the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan Senate deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” and preserve Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans making less than $400,000 per year, President Obama praised party leaders and wasted little time turning to the next fiscal fight.

“This is one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy for everybody,” Obama said.

Obama lamented that earlier attempts at a much larger fiscal deal that would have cut spending and dealt with entitlement reforms failed.  He said he hoped future debates would be done with “a little less drama, a little less brinksmanship, and not scare folks quite as much.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 1, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Legislation Passing House & Senate

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama remarks on ‘fiscal cliff’ legislation

Source: AP, 1-1-13

President Obama spoke at the White House after the House vote on Tuesday.

Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

President Obama spoke at the White House after the House vote on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama’s remarks on the “fiscal cliff” legislation passed Tuesday by the House, as provided by the White House.

Happy New Year, everybody.

A central promise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working middle-class Americans. Tonight we’ve done that. Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans while preventing a middle-class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America.

I want to thank all the leaders of the House and Senate. In particular, I want to thank the work that was done by my extraordinary Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. Everybody worked very hard on this and I appreciate it. And, Joe, once again, I want to thank you for your great work.

Under this law, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up. Millions of families will continue to receive tax credits to help raise their kids and send them to college. Companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research that they do, the investments they make and the clean energy jobs that they create. And 2 million Americans who are out of work but out there looking, pounding the pavement every day, are going to 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.

And 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 investments 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.

I want to make this point: 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 health care makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit. I believe we’ve got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive. And I believe that 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 deductions 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 going to 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.

Now, one last point I want to make — 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 a fiscal cliff.

People will remember, back in 2011, the last time this course of action 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.

And today’s agreement enshrines, I think, a principle into law that will remain in place as long as I am President: The deficit needs to be reduced in a way that’s balanced. Everyone pays their fair share. Everyone does their part. That’s how our economy works best. That’s how we grow.

The sum total of all the budget agreements we’ve reached so far proves that there is a path forward, that it is possible if we focus not on our politics but on what’s right for the country. And the one thing that I think, hopefully, in the New Year we’ll focus on is seeing if we can put a package like this together with a little bit less drama, a little less brinksmanship, not scare the heck out of folks quite as much.

We can come together as Democrats and Republicans to cut spending and raise revenue in a way that reduces our deficit, protects our middle class, provides ladders into the middle class for everybody who’s willing to work hard. We can find a way to afford the investments that we need to grow and compete. We can settle this debate, or at the very least, not allow it to be so all-consuming all the time that it stops us from meeting a host of other challenges that we face — creating jobs, boosting incomes, fixing our infrastructure, fixing our immigration system, protecting our planet from the harmful effects of climate change, boosting domestic energy production, protecting our kids from the horrors of gun violence.

It’s not just possible to do these things; it’s an obligation to ourselves and to future generations. And I look forward to working with every single member of Congress to meet this obligation in the New Year.

And I hope that everybody now gets at least a day off, I guess, or a few days off, so that people can refresh themselves, because we’re going to have a lot of work to do in 2013.

Thanks, everybody. Happy New Year.

Political Headlines January 1, 2013: ‘Fiscal Cliff’: House Votes & Approves Senate Deal

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‘Fiscal Cliff’: House Approves Senate Deal

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-1-13

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives has approved a bipartisan Senate deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” sending the compromise to President Obama for his signature.

House Republicans agreed to the up-or-down vote Tuesday evening, despite earlier talk of trying to amend the Senate bill with more spending cuts before taking a vote….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 1, 2013: What ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Would Do — and Not Do

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‘Fiscal Cliff’: House Approves Senate Deal

What ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Would Do — and Not Do

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-1-13

The fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate and under consideration in the House Tuesday is 48 pages of legislative legalese, but here are the key points of what is in the bill — and what is not in the bill….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 1, 2013: Eric Cantor, House GOP Wary of Senate Deal That Could Add Trillions to Deficit

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House GOP Wary of Senate Deal That Could Add Trillions to Deficit

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-1-13 

Top House Republicans Tuesday opposed a bipartisan compromise that passed the Senate in the wee hours of New Year’s Day to avert the “fiscal cliff,” as new studies conclude that the compromise on taxes and spending would add trillions to the U.S. deficit.

If House Republicans tweak the legislation, as they seem likely to do, there’s no clear path for its return to the Senate before a new Congress is sworn in Thursday.

GOP leaders emerged from a morning conference meeting disenchanted by the legislative package devised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Biden early Tuesday morning, with several insisting they cannot vote on it as it now stands….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 1, 2013: White House Sees ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal as Game Changer

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White House Sees ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal as Game Changer

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-1-13

It’s hard to find anyone in Washington happy about the outcome of the “fiscal cliff” brinksmanship.

But inside the Obama White House, senior officials are elated by what they call a significant presidential achievement:  breaking longstanding Republican intransigence on taxes.

The deal passed by the Senate early Monday morning, with the endorsement of all but seven of the 47 Republicans, would raise $620 billion in new revenue, hiking tax rates on households earning more than $450,000 a year….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 1, 2013: 5 things to know about the fiscal cliff

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5 things to know about the fiscal cliff

Source: CNN, 1-1-13

It’s complex, dense, and filled with compromise. And the deal passed by the Senate to avert the “fiscal cliff” might not even become law, depending what actions the House takes.

Here are five things to know about the bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly in the middle of the night.

1. No side won.

2. We may have a new definition of “wealthiest Americans.”

3. The deal “kicks the can,” and three more “fiscal cliffs” are looming.

4. If it doesn’t pass

5. Either way, your paycheck is likely to shrink

READ MORE

Political Headlines January 1, 2013: Senate Passes ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal with Vote 89-8, House to Vote

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Senate Passes ‘Cliff’ Deal, House to Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-1-13

Two hours after a midnight deadline for action, the Senate passed legislation early New Year’s Day to avert the so-called fiscal cliff with an overwhelming vote of 89-8.

Senate passage set the stage for a final showdown in the House, where a vote could come as early as Tuesday.

“While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay,” President Obama said in a statement shortly after the vote….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 31, 2012: Tentative Deal Reached on ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ But No House Vote Before Deadline

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Tentative Deal Reached on ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ But No House Vote Before Deadline

Source: ABC New Radio, 12-31-12

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The so-called “fiscal cliff” came Monday night — but now there is a specific deal on the table to try to soften it after the fact, according to congressional sources.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the deal — brokered by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — would get a vote in the Senate sometime after midnight. The House would not vote before Tuesday, having adjourned for the evening before word of the agreement spread.

“I feel really very, very good about this vote,” Biden told reporters leaving the meeting with Senate Democrats, “but having been in the Senate for as long as I have there’s two things you shouldn’t do: You shouldn’t predict how the Senate is going to vote before they vote….[and] you surely shouldn’t predict about how the House is going to vote.”…READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines December 31, 2012: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Speech on the Senate Floor on the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations — ‘We can do this. We must do this.’

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McConnell: ‘We can do this. We must do this.’

Source: McConnell.Senate.gov, 12-31-12

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the status of the fiscal cliff negotiations:

“Yesterday, after days of inaction, I came to the floor and noted we needed to act, but that I needed a dance partner. So I reached out to the Vice President in an effort to get things done.

“I’m happy to report that the effort has been a successful one and as the President just said, we are very close to an agreement.

“We need to protect American families and job creators from this looming tax hike. Everyone agrees that action is necessary. And I can report that we’ve reached an agreement on the all the tax issues.

“We are very, very close.

“As the President just said, the most important piece, the piece that has to be done NOW, is preventing the tax hikes. He said: “for now our most immediate priority is to stop taxes going up for middle class families starting tomorrow.” He suggested that action on the sequester is something we can continue to work on in the coming months.

“So I agree, let’s pass the tax relief portion now. Let’s take what’s been agreed to and get moving. The President wants this, members of Congress want to protect taxpayers, and we can get it done now.

“Let me be clear: We will continue to work on finding smarter ways to cut spending, but let’s not let that hold up protecting Americans from the tax hike that will take place in about 10 hours.

“We can do this. We must do this.

“I want my colleagues to know that we’ll keep everyone updated.”

Full Text Obama Presidency December 31, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations ‘Agreement Within Sight’

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Remarks by the President on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Source: NYT, 12-31-12

By Pool

President Obama on the Fiscal Talks: President Obama says a deal is “within sight,” less than 24 hours before the so-called fiscal cliff.

The following is the full text of President Obama’s statement from the White House on the fiscal talks on Monday.

Related

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Thank you. Please, everybody have a seat. Well, good afternoon, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon!

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House.

AUDIENCE: Thank you!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you for having us. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Now, 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. Preventing that tax hike has been my top priority, because the last thing folks like the folks 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 that Congress can get it done. But it’s not done.

And so part of the reason that I wanted to speak to all of you here today is to make sure that we emphasize to Congress and that members of both parties understand that all across America, this is a pressing concern on people’s minds.

Now, 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 to 2 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 a larger agreement, a bigger deal, a grand bargain — whatever you want to 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 in a balanced way so that we can put all this behind us and just focusing on growing our economy.

But with this Congress, that was obviously a little too much to hope for at this time. (Laughter.) It may be we can do it in stages. We’re going to solve this problem instead in several steps.

Last year in 2011, 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 2 percent of Americans to pay higher taxes for the first time in two decades, so that would add additional hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction. So that’s progress, but we’re going to need to do more.

Keep in mind that just last month Republicans in Congress said they would never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Obviously, the agreement that’s currently being discussed would raise those rates and raise them permanently. (Applause.)

But keep in mind, we’re going to still have more work to do. We still have deficits that have to be dealt with. We’re still going to 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.

And keep in mind that the threat of tax hikes going up is only one part of this so-called fiscal cliff that everybody has been talking about. What we also have facing us starting tomorrow are automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect. And keep in mind that some of these spending cuts that Congress has said will automatically go into effect have an impact on our Defense Department, but they also have an impact on things like Head Start. And so there are some programs that are scheduled to be cut that we’re using an axe instead of a scalpel — may not always be the smartest cuts. And so that is a piece of business that still has to be taken care of.

And I want to make clear that any agreement we have to deal with these automatic spending cuts that are being threatened for next month, those also have to be balanced — because remember, my principle has always been let’s do things in a balanced, responsible way. And that means that revenues have to be part of the equation in turning off the sequester, in eliminating these automatic spending cuts, as well as spending cuts.

Now, the same is true for any future deficit agreement. Obviously, we’re going to have to do more to reduce our debt and our deficit. I’m willing to do more, but it’s going to have to be balanced. We’re going to have to do it in a balanced, responsible way.

For example, I’m willing to reduce our government’s Medicare bills by finding new ways to reduce the cost of health care in this country. That’s something that we all should agree on. We want to make sure that Medicare is there for future generations. But the current trajectory of health care costs is going up so high we’ve got to find ways to make sure that it’s sustainable.

But that kind of reform has to go hand-in-hand with doing some more work to reform our tax code so that wealthy individuals, the biggest corporations can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most of the folks standing up here — aren’t available to most Americans. So there’s still more work to be done in the tax code to make it fairer, even as we’re also looking at how we can 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 sort of after today we’re just going to try to shove only spending cuts down — well — (laughter) — shove spending cuts at us that will hurt seniors, or hurt students, or hurt middle-class families, without asking also equivalent sacrifice from millionaires or companies with a lot of lobbyists, et cetera — if they think that’s going to be the formula for how we solve this thing, then they’ve got another thing coming. That’s not how it’s going to work. We’ve got to do this in a balanced and responsible way. And if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction and debt reduction, then it’s going to have to be a matter of shared sacrifice — at least as long as I’m President. And I’m going to be President for the next four years, I think, so — (applause.)

So, anyway, for now, our most immediate priority is to stop taxes going up for middle-class families, starting tomorrow. I think that is a modest goal that we can accomplish. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have to get this done, but they’re not there yet. They are close, but they’re not there yet. And one thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there’s even one second left before you have to do what you’re supposed to do — (laughter) — they will use that last second.

So, as of this point, it looks like I’m going to be spending New Year’s here in D.C.

AUDIENCE: Awww –

THE PRESIDENT: You all are going to be hanging out in D.C., too. (Laughter.) I can come to your house? Is that what you said? (Laughter.) I don’t want to spoil the party.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You are the party. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: But the people who are with me here today, the people who are watching at home, they need our leaders in Congress to succeed. They need us to all stay focused on them — not on politics, not on special interests. They need to be focused on families, students, grandmas, folks who are out there working really, really hard and are just looking for a fair shot and some reward for that hard work.

They expect our leaders to succeed on their behalf. So do I. And so, keep the pressure on over the next 12 hours or so. Let’s see if we can get this thing done.

And I thank you all. And if I don’t see you, if I don’t show up at your house — (laughter) — I want to wish everybody a Happy New Year. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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