Political Headlines December 29, 2012: Former President George H.W. Bush Moves Out of ICU

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Former President George H.W. Bush Moves Out of ICU

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-29-12

Stefan Glidden/HBO

President George H.W. Bush has moved out of the intensive care unit at Houston’s Methodist Hospital on Saturday, and his “condition has improved,” according to his spokesman.

Bush will now be recovering in “a regular patient room” Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement Saturday….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 29, 2012: As Fiscal Cliff Nears, All Eyes Turn to the Senate

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

As Fiscal Cliff Nears, All Eyes Turn to the Senate

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-29-12

Architect of the Capitol

A fiscal-cliff fix went nowhere in the House. Now, the Senate will take its turn.

With just three days before their end-of-the-year deadline, Congress and the White House are hurtling toward the so-called “fiscal cliff.” If no deal is struck by Monday night, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect.

Both sides still say there’s no concrete plan on the table….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff Talks Urges Congress to Prevent Tax Hikes on Middle Class Americans — “Modestly Optimistic” about a “Fiscal Cliff” Deal

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Urges Congress to Prevent Tax Hikes on Middle Class Americans

Source: WH, 12-28-12

President Obama delivers a statement to the press, Dec. 28, 2012.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

With just four days left before tax rates are scheduled to rise, President Obama met with Senate and House leaders at the White House to talk about how Congress can prevent every American from seeing a smaller paycheck next week.

Speaking in the Brady Press Briefing room after that meeting, the President characterized the discussion as “good and constructive” and said that he is optimistic an agreement that can pass both houses will be reached in time. But he warned Congress that the American people are losing patience, and that they must act now:

if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill.

Watch the President’s full remarks

Statement by the President

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:52 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with leaders of both parties to try and forge an agreement that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit — a balanced plan that would cut spending in a responsible way but also ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, and, above all, protect our middle class and everybody who is striving to get into the middle class.

I still want to get this done. It’s the right thing to do for our families, for our businesses, and for our entire economy. But the hour for immediate action is here.  It is now.

We’re now at the point where, in just four days, every American’s tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. Every American’s paycheck will get considerably smaller.  And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, it would be bad for middle-class families, and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending. Fortunately, Congress can prevent it from happening if they act right now.

I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement as we speak.

But if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote.  If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work.  If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill.

So the American people are watching what we do here. Obviously, their patience is already thin. This is déjà vu all over again. America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you can’t get stuff done in an organized timetable; why everything always has to wait until the last minute. Well, we’re now at the last minute, and the American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. Not right now.

The economy is growing, but sustaining that trend is going to require elected officials to do their jobs. The housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already you’re seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington.

Economists, business leaders all think that we’re poised to grow in 2013 –- as long as politics in Washington don’t get in the way of America’s progress.

So we’ve got to get this done. I just want to repeat — we had a constructive meeting today.  Senators Reid and McConnell are discussing a potential agreement where we can get a bipartisan bill out of the Senate, over to the House and done in a timely fashion so that we’ve met the December 31st deadline. But given how things have been working in this town, we always have to wait and see until it actually happens. The one thing that the American people should not have to wait and see is some sort of action.

So if we don’t see an agreement between the two leaders in the Senate, I expect a bill to go on the floor — and I’ve asked Senator Reid to do this — put a bill on the floor that makes sure that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, that unemployment insurance is still available for two million people, and that lays the groundwork, then, for additional deficit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the New Year.

But let’s not miss this deadline.  That’s the bare minimum that we should be able to get done, and it shouldn’t be that hard since Democrats and Republicans both say they don’t want to see taxes go up on middle-class families.

I just have to repeat — outside of Washington, nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over and over again.  Ordinary folks, they do their jobs. They meet deadlines. They sit down and they discuss things, and then things happen. If there are disagreements, they sort through the disagreements. The notion that our elected leadership can’t do the same thing is mind-boggling to them. It needs to stop.

So I’m modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. Nobody is going to get 100 percent of what they want, but let’s make sure that middle-class families and the American economy — and, in fact, the world economy — aren’t adversely impacted because people can’t do their jobs.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END                5:57 P.M. EST

Political Headlines December 28, 2012: White House Fiscal Cliff Summit Brings Hope for a Deal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Fiscal Cliff Summit Brings Hope for a Deal

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-29-12

The White House

Washington brinkmanship appears to have created a last minute chance for the White House and Congress to agree on a plan to avoid sending the country over the fiscal cliff.

President Obama emerged from a White House summit Friday evening to say “we had a constructive meeting today” and that he was “optimistic” that they could devise a proposal ahead of a Jan. 1 deadline that would otherwise automatically trigger a wide range of higher taxes and steep budget cuts. Economists fear that such a combination could throw the country into a recession.

The president lamented that a deal is coming down to the final hours.

“The American people are watching what we do… (their) patience is already thin,” the president said. “It’s deja vu all over again.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 26, 2012: Fiscal Cliff Deal in Harry Reid’s Court?

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Fiscal Cliff Deal in Harry Reid’s Court?

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-26-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

With President Obama and the Senate headed back to Washington, the impetus is on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to come up with a new plan to avoid the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1, when a set of automatic budget cuts and tax increases will take hold if Democrats and Republicans fail to  come together on a deal.

Reid’s plan would serve as a Democratic counterpart to House Speaker John Boehner’s plan B, which failed to gain enough support for a vote last week. Boehner left the ball in the Senate’s court after withdrawing his plan Thursday….READ MORE 

The House has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the entire fiscal cliff if enacted.  Those bills await action by the Senate.  If the Senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House.  Once this has occurred, the House will then consider whether to accept the bills as amended, or to send them back to the Senate with additional amendments.  The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act.  The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending.

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