Political Headlines January 8, 2013: ABC News / Washington Post Poll: Public Lukewarm on Fiscal Cliff Deal, But President Barack Obama Bests Speaker John Boehner

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Poll: Public Lukewarm on Cliff Deal, But Obama Bests Boehner

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-8-13

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Americans give a lukewarm response to last week’s agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, albeit with higher marks for the deal to President Obama than to House Speaker John Boehner.

More people in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve than disapprove of the agreement, but just by a 7-point margin, 45 to 38 percent, with a substantial 17 percent undecided. Moreover, intensity is on the negative side: “Strong” critics of the deal outnumber its strong proponents by 2-1.

See a PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

At the same time, Obama gets majority approval for his handling of the negotiations, 52-37 percent, while Boehner’s score is reversed — just 31 percent approve of his performance on the cliff talks, while 51 percent disapprove. Boehner’s positive score is up six percentage points from a month ago, but remains a broad 21 points behind the president’s….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 5, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Rep. Dave Camp on Growing the Economy and Cutting Spending

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GOP Address: Rep. Dave Camp on Growing the Economy and Cutting Spending

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-5-13

US House of Representatives

As the House returns for the 113th Congress, Rep. Dave Camp says its 2013 resolution is clear: to grow our economy, getting government spending under control and making Washington more accountable to Americans.

Camp, who represents the fourth district of Michigan and is chairman of the House Ways and  Means Committee, says in this week’s Republican address that the real reason we’re in a “fiscal mess” is because “Washington takes too much of your money and then wastes it … We have to make sure Washington is accountable for every tax dollar it spends.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines January 5, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Warns Debt Ceiling Fight Could Be ‘Catastrophic’

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President Obama’s Weekly Address: Warns Debt Ceiling Fight Could Be ‘Catastrophic’

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-5-13

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

In his first weekly address of the New Year, President Obama touts the “fiscal cliff” compromise as “one more step in the broader effort to grow our economy and shrink our deficits” but warns that another “manufactured crisis” over the debt ceiling could wreak havoc on the economy.

Continuing his effort to frame the looming fight over the nation’s debt limit, Obama makes clear “one thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up.”

“If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic,” he continues. “The last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it.”…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: President Barack Obama Returns to Hawaii Vacation Post-Fiscal Cliff Deal

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Obama Returns to Hawaii Vacation Post-Cliff Deal

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-12

White House Photo by Pete Souza

Less than an hour after Congress and the White House resolved the fiscal cliff, President Obama boarded Air Force One to return to his planned Hawaiian holiday vacation.

He boarded the plane at Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs, Md., shortly before midnight Wednesday following a New Year’s Day of political drama on Capitol Hill.

The 10-hour overnight flight was scheduled to arrive in Oahu around 5 a.m. local time Wednesday when he will reunite with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia, who have been vacationing there since just before Christmas….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: 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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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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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.)

Political Headlines December 31, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff: ‘Agreement Within Sight’

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Obama on Fiscal Cliff: ‘Agreement Within Sight’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-31-12

The White House

President Obama said an 11th-hour agreement to avert year-end tax hikes on 98 percent of Americans is “within sight” but not yet complete with just hours to go before the nation reaches the so-called fiscal cliff.

“There are still issues left to resolve but we’re hopeful Congress can get it done,” Obama said Monday at a White House news conference. “But it’s not done.”

Congressional and White House negotiators have forged the contours of an agreement that would extend current tax rates for households making $450,000 or less; raise the estate tax from 35 to 40 percent for estates larger than $5 million; and prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hammering millions of middle-class workers, sources said….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 31, 2012: Sen. John Thune: Congress the Biggest Loser in Fiscal Cliff, Frustrated Senators Say

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Congress the Biggest Loser in Fiscal Cliff, Frustrated Senators Say

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-31-12

Sen. John Thune (United States Senate)

With Washington waiting to close the fiscal cliff deal – regardless of the outcome – some Senators took to the floor Monday to already express who really the big loser is in all of this: Congress.

A normally restrained Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., waved his arms, raised his voice and yelled from the floor, emphasizing every word: “It’s. December. Thirty. First.”

“We’re sitting here because we have twiddled our thumbs for month after month after month and here in the United States Senate,” Thune ranted from the Senate floor, “we’ve known about this for a long time, yet for month after month after month after month this year nothing was done about it.”…READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 1, 2013: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Speech on the Senate Floor on the Fiscal Cliff

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‘An imperfect solution’ to prevent very real financial pain

Source: McConnell.Senate.gov, 1-1-13

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

“It’s late, so I’ll be very brief. I want to thank everyone for their patience and their counsel throughout this process.

“I also want to thank the Vice President for recognizing the importance of preventing this tax hike on the American people and stepping up to play a crucial role in getting us there.

“It shouldn’t have taken this long to come to an agreement, and this shouldn’t be the model for how we do things around here, but I appreciate his willingness to get this done for the country.

“I know I can speak for my entire conference when I say we don’t think taxes should be going up on anyone, but we all knew that if we did nothing they’d be going up on everyone today. We weren’t going to let that happen.

“Each of us could spend the rest of the week discussing what a perfect solution would have looked like, but the end result would have been the largest tax increase in American history.

“The President wanted tax increases, but thanks to this imperfect agreement, 99% of my constituents won’t be hit by those hikes.

“So it took an imperfect solution to prevent our constituents from very real financial pain. But in my view, it was worth the effort.

“As I said, this shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here. But I think we can say we’ve done some good for the country. We’ve taken care of the revenue side of this debate.

“Now it’s time to get serious about reducing Washington’s out-of-control spending. That’s a debate the American people want. It’s the debate we’ll have next. And it’s a debate Republicans are ready for.”

Full Text Political Headlines December 30, 2012: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Speech on Senate Floor Cites Lack of Urgency in Fiscal Cliff Talks, Reaches Out to Vice President Joe Biden

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

McConnell Cites Lack of Urgency in Fiscal Cliff Talks, Reaches Out to Vice President

Source: McConnell Senate, 12-30-12

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

“My office submitted an offer to the majority leader last night at 7:10 pm and offered to work through the night to find common ground. The majority leader’s staff informed us they would be getting back to us this morning at 10 a.m.– despite our obvious time crunch. It’s now 2 p.m. and we’ve yet to receive a response to our good-faith offer.

“I’m concerned with the lack of urgency here. There’s far too much at stake for political gamesmanship.

“We need to protect American families and businesses from this looming tax hike. Everyone agrees that action is necessary.

“In order to get things moving, I have just spoken with Sen. Reid.  I also placed a call to the Vice President to see if he could help jump start the negotiations on their side. The Vice President and I have worked together on solutions before and I believe we can again.

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

“The consequences of this are too high for the American people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. I’m interested in a result here. And I’m willing to work with whomever can help.

“There is no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point – the sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest, or courage to close the deal.

“I’m willing to get this done but I need a dance partner.”

Political Headlines December 30, 2012: President Barack Obama Suggests on NBC’s Meet the Press Any ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Would Be Small

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Suggests Any ‘Cliff’ Deal Would Be Small

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-30-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

With less than two days remaining for Congress to reach a budget agreement that would avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” President Obama on Sunday suggested that a small deal remains the best hope to avoid the perilous package of spending cuts and tax increases.

In an interview aired Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the president said if Republicans agreed to raising taxes on top income earners it should be enough to avoid the triggers that would execute the $607 billion measure. Economists agree that going over the cliff would likely put the country back in recession.

“If we have raised some revenue by the wealthy paying a little bit more, that would be sufficient to turn off what’s called the sequester, these automatic spending cuts, and that also would have a better outcome for our economy long-term,” he said….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 30, 2012: Major Setback in Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Major Setback in Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-30-12

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday rejected the latest offer from Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.), pushing the country that much closer to the fiscal cliff as the senators scrambled to find a bipartisan deal before automatic tax cuts and spending hikes kick in for the new year.

A senior Democratic aide says that, although talks continue, the McConnell offer was “a major setback.”

“We are hugely disappointed,” the aide tells ABC News….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 30, 2012: President Barack Obama’s NBC Meet the Press Interview: Full Transcript, Quotes, Video

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama Meet the Press Interview: Full Transcript, Quotes, Video

Source: PolicyMic, 12-30-12
obama, meet, the, press, interview, full, transcript,, quotes,, video,

Obama Meet the Press Interview Full Transcript Quotes Video

President Barack Obama had a sit-down interview with Meet the Press host David Gregory on Saturday afternoon in the White House, an interview which aired Sunday morning on NBC.

In the interview, Obama spoke at length on the fiscal cliff — outlining both his strategy in this debate (tax the rich, help the middle class keep running as the engine of the economy) and his economic principles. He also spoke on gun control — giving hints at how Democrats would tackle the issue in the post-Newtown environment — as well as his cabinet fluctuations, the on-going Benghazi situation, and gave insights on how he wants to drive his second term.

[Read the full analysis here]

Here are key quotes from the exchange.

DAVID GREGORY: “If you go over the cliff, what’s the impact in the markets?” …

OBAMA: “[O]bviously I think business and investors are going to feel more negative about the economy next year. If you look at projections of 2013, people generally felt that the economy would continue to grow, unemployment would continue to tick down, housing would continue to improve. But what’s been holding us back is the dysfunction here in Washington. And if people start seeing that on January 1st this problem still hasn’t been solved, that we haven’t seen the kind of deficit reduction that we could have had had the Republicans been willing to take the deal that I gave them, if they say that people’s taxes have gone up, which means consumer spending is going to be depressed, then obviously that’s going to have an adverse reaction in the markets.” …

GREGORY: “How accountable are you for the fact that Washington can’t get anything done and that we are at this deadline again? … You’ve had a tough go with Congress.”

OBAMA : “[A]t a certain point, if folks can’t say ‘yes’ to good offers, then I also have an obligation to the American people to make sure that the entire burden of deficit reduction doesn’t fall on seniors who are relying on Medicare. … The offers that I’ve made to them have been so fair that a lot of Democrats get mad at me. … I offered to make some significant changes to our entitlement programs … They [Republicans] say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way. But the way they’re behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme. …

“Democrats and Republicans both say they don’t want taxes to go up on middle class families. … If we can get that done, that takes a big bite out of the fiscal cliff. It avoids the worst outcomes. And we’re then going to have some tough negotiations in terms of how we continue to reduce the deficit, grow the economy, create jobs.” …

GREGORY: “Would you commit to that first year of your second term getting significant [entitlement] reform done?” …

OBAMA: “David, I want to be very clear. You are not only going to cut your way to prosperity. One of the fallacies I think that has been promoted is this notion that deficit reduction is only a matter of cutting programs that are really important to seniors, students and so forth. That has to be part of the mix, but what I ran on and what the American people elected me to do was to put forward a balanced approach. To make sure that there’s shared sacrifice. … And it is very difficult for me to say to a senior citizen or a student or a mom with a disabled kid, ‘You are going to have to do with less but we’re not going to ask millionaires and billionaires to do more.'” …

GREGORY: “So what is your single priority of the second term? What is the equivalent to health care?”

OBAMA : “I’ve said that fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority. I will introduce legislation in the first year to get that done. … The second thing that we’ve got to do is to stabilize the economy and make sure it’s growing. Part of that is deficit reduction. Part of it is also making sure that we’re investing, for example, in rebuilding our infrastructure, which is broken. And if we are putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, in part paying for it by some of these broader long-term deficit reduction measures that need to take place that will grow the economy at the same time as we’re also setting our path for long-term fiscal stability.

“Number three: We’ve got a huge opportunity around energy. We are producing more energy and America can become an energy exporter. How do we do that in a way that also deals with some of the environmental challenges that we have at the same time? So that’s going to be a third thing. But the most immediate thing I’ve got to do starting on January 1st, if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year, is make sure that taxes are not going up on middle class families. Because it is going to be very hard for the economy to sustain its current growth trends, if suddenly we have a huge bite taken out of the average American’s paycheck.”

GREGORY: “Those are four huge things and you didn’t mention … new gun regulations. … Do you have the stomach for the political fight for new gun control laws?”

OBAMA: “David, I think anybody who was up in Newtown … understands that something fundamental in America has to change. And all of us have to do some soul searching, including me as president, that we allow a situation in which 20 precious small children are getting gunned down in a classroom. And I’ve been very clear that an assault rifle ban, banning these high capacity clips, background checks — that there are a set of issues that I have historically supported and will continue to support. …

“[S]o the question is: are we going to be able to have a national conversation and move something through Congress? I’d like to get it done in the first year. I will put forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations that Joe Biden’s task force is putting together as we speak. And so this is not something that I will be putting off. … And, yes, it’s going to be hard.”

GREGORY: “Do we have an armed guard at every school in the country?”

OBAMA: “I am not going to prejudge the recommendations that are given to me. I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools.”

GREGORY: “do you feel like you let your friend Susan Rice hang out there to dry a little bit?”

OBAMA: “No. … Why she was targeted individually, for the kind of attacks that she was subjected to, … was puzzling to me.” …

GREGORY: “Former Senator Chuck Hagel has come under criticism for some comments he’s made including about a former ambassador nominee during the Clinton years that being gay was an inhibiting factor to being gay to do an effective job. Is there anything about Chuck Hagel’s record or statements that’s disqualifying to you, should you nominate him to run the Defense Department?” …

OBAMA: “Not that I see. I’ve served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate. Somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam. And is somebody who’s currently serving on my intelligence advisory board and doing an outstanding job.

“So I haven’t made a decision on this. With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it. And I think it’s a testimony to what has been a positive change over the last decade in terms of people’s attitudes about gays and lesbians serving our country. And that’s something that I’m very proud to have led.” …

OBAMA, on a cliff deal: “I remain optimistic, I’m just a congenital optimist, that eventually people kind of see the light. Winston Churchill used to say that we Americans, we try every other option before we finally do the right thing. … And I think that that’s true for Congress as well. And I think it’s also important for Americans to remember that politics has always been messy. People have been asking me a lot about the film ‘Lincoln’ and — ”

GREGORY: “Is this your Lincoln moment?”

OBAMA : “Well, no. Look, A, I never compare myself to Lincoln and, B, obviously the magnitude of the issues are quite different from the Civil War and slavery. The point, though, is democracy’s always been messy. And we’re a big, diverse country that is constantly sort of arguing about all kinds of stuff. But eventually we do the right thing. … So one way or another, we’ll get through this. Do I wish that things were more orderly in Washington and rational and people listened to the best arguments and compromised and operated in a more thoughtful and organized fashion? Absolutely. But when you look at history, that’s been the exception rather than the norm.”

December 30: President Barack Obama, Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Brooks, and Chuck Todd

Source: NBC, 12-30-12

MR. DAVID GREGORY: And, good Sunday morning. Time is nearly up before we go over the so-called fiscal cliff. Senate leaders spent the weekend working on a last-ditch deal and the House comes back today for a rare Sunday night session. Yesterday afternoon, in an exclusive interview, President Obama sat down with me in the blue room of the White House to discuss the way forward and his priorities for his second term.

(Videotape)

DAVID GREGORY: Mister President, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s great to be here. Thank you.

GREGORY: So the obvious question: Are we going over the fiscal cliff?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think we’re going to find out in the next 48 hours what Congress decides to do, but I think it’s important for the American people to understand exactly what this fiscal cliff is, because it– it’s actually not that complicated. The tax cuts that were introduced in 2001, 2003, 2010, those were extended and they’re all about to expire at the end of the year. So on midnight December 31st, if Congress doesn’t act then everybody’s taxes go up. And for the average family that could mean a loss of 2,000 dollars in income.

For the entire economy that means consumers have a lot less money to make purchases, which means businesses are going to have a lot less customers, which means that they’re less likely to hire and the whole economy could slow down at a time when the economy is actually starting to pick up and we’re seeing signs of recovery in housing and in employment numbers improving.

And, so what Congress needs to do, first and fore– foremost, is to prevent taxes from going up for the vast majority of Americans. And this was a major topic of discussion throughout the campaign. What I said was is that we should keep taxes where they are for 98 percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses. But if we’re serious about deficit reduction we should make sure that the wealthier are paying a little bit more and combine that with spending cuts to reduce our deficit and put our economy on a long-term trajectory of growth.

You know, we have been talking to the Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers. Yesterday, I had another meeting with the leadership and I suggested to them if they can’t do a comprehensive package of– of smart deficit reductions, let’s at minimum make sure that people’s taxes don’t go up and that two million people don’t lose their unemployment insurance.

And, you know, I was modestly optimistic yesterday, but we don’t yet see an agreement. And now the pressure’s on Congress to produce. If they don’t, what I’ve said is that in the Senate we should go ahead and introduce legislation that would make sure middle class taxes stay where they are and there should be an up or down vote. Everybody should have a right to vote on that. You know, if– if Republicans don’t like it, they can vote no. But I actually think that there’s a majority support for making sure that middle class families are held harmless.

GREGORY: If you go over the cliff…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mm-Hm.

GREGORY: …what’s the impact in the markets, which have been pretty confident up until now that a deal would get done?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you know, it’s– it’s hard to speculate on the markets, but obviously I think business and investors are going to feel more negative about the economy next year. If you look at projections of 2013, people generally felt that the economy would continue to grow, unemployment would continue to tick down, housing would continue to improve.

But what’s been holding us back is the dysfunction here in Washington. And if, you know, people start seeing that on January 1st this problem still hasn’t been solved, that we haven’t seen the kind of deficit reduction that we could have had had the Republicans been willing to take the deal that I gave them, if they say that people’s taxes have gone up, which means consumer spending is going to be depressed, then obviously that’s going to have an adverse reaction in the markets.

GREGORY: What about automatic spending cuts? Those take effect January 1st as well. Do they have to be part of this deal? You’ve got half of those cuts in defense alone.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, the– the other part of the fiscal cliff is Congress agreed that they would cut an additional 1.2 trillion dollars in spending. They put a committee together to try to come up with those numbers. They didn’t figure out how to do it. And so what we now have is a situation where these automatic spending cuts go into place.

Now if– if we have raised some revenue by the wealthy paying a little bit more, that would be sufficient to turn off what’s called the sequester–these automatic spending cuts, and that also would have a better outcome for our economy in long-term.

But, you know, so far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don’t want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it’s been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit– as part of an overall deficit reduction package.

GREGORY: Well, you talk about dysfunction in Washington. You signed this legislation setting up the fiscal cliff 17 months ago. How accountable are you for the fact that Washington can’t get anything done and that we are at this deadline again?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I– I have to tell you, David, if– if you look at my track record over the last two years, I cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011. I campaigned on the promise of being willing to reduce the deficit in a serious way, in a balanced approach of spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthy while keeping middle class taxes low.

I put forward a very specific proposal to do that. I negotiated with Speaker Boehner in good faith and moved more than halfway in order to achieve a grand bargain. I offered over a trillion dollars in additional spending cuts so that we would have two dollars of spending cuts for every one dollar of increased revenue. I think anybody objectively who’s looked at this would say that, you know, we have put forward not only a sensible deal but one that has the support of the majority of the American people, including close to half of Republicans.

GREGORY: But when they say…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And it’s…

GREGORY: …leadership falls on you, Mister President, you don’t have a role here in…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well…

GREGORY: …breaking this impasse? You’ve had a tough go with Congress.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: David, you know, at a certain point if folks can’t say yes to good offers, then I also have an obligation to the American people to make sure that the entire burden of deficit reduction doesn’t fall on, you know, seniors who are relying on Medicare. I also have an obligation to make sure that families who rely on Medicaid to take care of a disabled child aren’t carrying this burden entirely. I also have an obligation to middle class families to make sure that they’re not paying higher taxes when millionaires and billionaires are not having to pay higher taxes.

There is a basic fairness that is at stake in this whole thing that the American people understand and they listened to an entire year’s debate about it. They made a clear decision about the– the approach they prefer, which is a balanced, responsible package.

They rejected the notion that the economy grows best from the top down. They believe that the economy grows best from the middle class out. And at a certain point, you know, it is very important for Republicans in Congress to be willing to say, “We understand we’re not going to get 100 percent. We are willing to compromise in a serious way in order to solve problems,” as opposed to be worrying about the next election.

GREGORY: You said that Republicans have a hard time saying yes. Particularly to you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

GREGORY: What is it about you, Mister President, that you think is so hard to say yes to?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, that’s something you’re probably going to have to ask them, because, you know, David, you– you follow this stuff pretty carefully. The offers that I’ve made to them have been so fair that a lot of Democrats get mad at me. I mean I offered to make some significant changes to our entitlement programs in order to reduce the deficit.

I offered not only a trillion dollars in– over a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next 10 years, but these changes would result in even more savings in the next 10 years. And would solve our deficit problem for a decade. They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they’re behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme.

And– and at some point I think what’s going to be important is that they listen to the American people. Now, you know, the– I think that over the next 48 hours, my hope is that people recognize that, regardless of partisan differences, our top priority has to be to make sure that taxes on middle class families do not go up that would hurt our economy badly.

We can get that done. Democrats and Republicans both say they don’t want taxes to go up on middle class families. That’s something we all agree on. If we can get that done that takes a big bite out of the fiscal cliff. It avoids the worst outcomes. And we’re then going to have some tough negotiations in terms of how we continue to reduce the deficit, grow the economy and create jobs.

GREGORY: If this fight comes back– and I want to ask you specifically about entitlements: Medicare and Social Security.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.

GREGORY: Are you prepared in the first year of your second term to significantly reform those two programs? To go beyond the cuts you’ve suggested to benefits in Medicare, which your own debt commission suggested you’d have to do if you were really going to shore up Medicare at least. Are you prepared to do that in your first year of the second term?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I’ve said is I am prepared to do everything I can to make sure that Medicare and Social Security are there, not just for this generation but for future generations.

GREGORY: You’ve got to talk tough to seniors…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But…

GREGORY: …don’t you about this? And say, something’s got to give?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: …but I already have, David, as you know, one of the proposals we made was something called Chain CPI, which sounds real technical but basically makes an adjustment in terms of how inflation is calculated on Social Security. Highly unpopular among Democrats. Not something supported by AARP. But in pursuit of strengthening Social Security for the long-term I’m willing to make those decisions. What I’m not willing to do is to have the entire burden of deficit reduction rest on the shoulders of seniors, making students pay higher student loan rates, ruining our capacity to invest in things like basic research that help our economy grow. Those are the things that I’m not willing to do. And so…

GREGORY: Would you commit to that first year of your second term getting significant reform done? Telling Congress, “We’ve got to do it in…“

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, no, no…

GREGORY: …”the first year?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: …but, David, I want to be very clear. You are not only going to cut your way to prosperity. One of the fallacies I think that has been promoted is this notion that deficit reduction is only a matter of cutting programs that are really important to seniors, students and so forth.

That has to be part of the mix, but what I ran on and what the American people elected me to do was to put forward a balanced approach. To make sure that there’s shared sacrifice. That everybody is doing a little bit more. And it is very difficult for me to say to a senior citizen or a student or a mom with a disabled kid, “You are going to have to do with less but we’re not going to ask millionaires and billionaires to do more.” That’s not something that we’re…

GREGORY: Can I ask you about…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s not an approach that the American people think is right. And, by the way, historically that’s not how we grow an economy. We grow an economy when folks in the middle, folks who are striving to get in the middle class, when they do well.

GREGORY: But I’m asking you about timeframe because, as you well know, as a second term president now, about to begin to your second term, your political capital, even having just won reelection, is limited. So what is your single priority of the second term? What is the equivalent to healthcare?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, there are a couple of things that we need to get done. I’ve said that fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority. I will introduce legislation in the first year to get that done. I think we have talked about it long enough. We know how we can fix it. We can do it in a comprehensive way that the American people support. That’s something we should get done.

The second thing that we’ve got to do is to stabilize the economy and make sure it’s growing. Part of that is deficit reduction. Part of it is also making sure that we’re investing, for example, in rebuilding our infrastructure, which is broken. And, you know, if we are putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, in part paying for it by some of these broader long-term deficit reduction measures that need to take place that will grow the economy at the same time as we’re also setting our path for long-term fiscal stability.

Number three. You know, we’ve got a huge opportunity around energy. We are producing more energy and America can become an energy exporter. How do we do that in a way that also deals with some of the environmental challenges that we have at the same time? So that’s going to be a third thing.

But the most immediate thing I’ve got to do starting on January 1st, if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year, is make sure that taxes are not going up on middle class families. And because it is going to be very hard for the economy to sustain its current growth trends if suddenly we have a huge bite taken out of the average…

GREGORY: Those are…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: …American’s paycheck.

GREGORY: Those are four huge things and you didn’t mention after Newtown, although I know you’re thinking about it, new gun regulations.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes.

GREGORY: Mayor Bloomberg of New– New York told me a couple weeks ago on this program that ought to be your number one agenda item. You know how hard this is. Do you have the stomach for the political fight for new gun control laws?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, David, I think anybody who was up in Newtown, who talked to the parents, who talked to the families, understands that, you know, something fundamental in America has to change. And all of us have to do some soul searching, including me as president that we allow a situation in which 20 precious small children are getting gunned down in a classroom. And I’ve been very clear that, you know, an assault rifle ban, you know, banning these high capacity clips, background checks, that there are a set of issues that I have historically supported and one will continue to support.

GREGORY: But can you get it done? I mean the politics…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And…

GREGORY: …is the question.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: …so the question is are we going to be able to have a national conversation and move something through Congress. I’d like to get it done in the first year. I will put forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations that Joe Biden’s task force is putting together as we speak. And so this is not something that I will be putting off. But…

GREGORY: The NRA says it’s just not going to work.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well…

GREGORY: It didn’t work before. It’s not going to work now.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, my response is something has to work. And it is not enough for us to say, “This is too hard so we’re not going to try.” So what I intend to do is I will call all the stakeholders together. I will meet with Republicans. I will meet with Democrats. I will talk to anybody. I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can’t have a situation in which somebody with, you know, severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that– that this individual in Newtown obtained and– and gunned down our kids. And, yes, it’s going to be hard.

GREGORY: Do we have an armed guard…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But…

GREGORY: …at every school in the country? That’s what the NRA believes. They told me last week that could work.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I am not going to prejudge the recommendations that are given to me. I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools. And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem. And, look, here’s– here’s the bottom line. We’re not going to get this done unless the American people decide it’s important.

And so this is not going to be simply a matter of me spending political capital. One of the things that you learn, having now been in this office for four years, is the old adage of Abraham Lincoln’s. That with public opinion there’s nothing you can’t do and without public opinion there’s very little you can get done in this town. So I’m going to be putting forward a package and I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it. And I’m going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again.

But ultimately the way this is going to happen is because the American people say, “That’s right. We are willing to make different choices for the country and we support those in Congress who are willing to take those actions.” And will there be resistance? Absolutely there will be resistance.

And the question then becomes, you know, whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away. It certainly won’t feel like that to me. This is something that, you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.

GREGORY: It hit close to home.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely.

GREGORY: Let me ask you about a couple of foreign policy notes. After the attack in Benghazi, is there a need for more accountability so that this doesn’t happen again? And do you know who was behind the attack at this point?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Two points. Number one, I think that Tom Pickering and Mike Mullen who headed up the– the review board did a very thorough job in identifying what were some severe problems in diplomatic security. And they provided us with a series of recommendations. Many of them were already starting to be implemented. Secretary Clinton has indicated that she is going to implement all of them.

What I’ve– my message to the State Department has been very simple. And that is we’re going to solve this. We’re not going to be defensive about it. We’re not going to pretend that this was not a problem. This was a huge problem. And we’re going to implement every single recommendation that’s been put forward.

Some individuals have been held accountable inside of the State Department and what I’ve said is that we are going to fix this to make sure that this does not happen again, because these are folks that I send into the field. We understand that there are dangers involved but, you know, when you read the report and it confirms what we had already seen, you know, based on some of our internal reviews; there was just some sloppiness, not intentional, in terms of how we secure embassies in areas where you essentially don’t have governments that have a lot of capacity to protect those embassies. So we’re doing a thorough-going review. Not only will we implement all the recommendations that were made, but we’ll try to do more than that. You know, with respect to who carried it out, that’s an ongoing investigation. The FBI has sent individuals to Libya repeatedly. We have some very good leads, but this is not something that, you know, I’m going to be at liberty to talk about right now.

GREGORY: In the politics, in the back and forth in this, do you feel like you let your friend Susan Rice hang out there to dry a little bit?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No. First of all, I think I was very clear throughout that Susan has been an outstanding U.N. ambassador for the United States. She appeared on a number of television shows reporting what she and we understood to be the best information at the time. This was a politically motivated attack on her. I mean of all the people in my national security team she probably had the least to do with anything that happened in Benghazi. Why she was targeted individually for the kind of attacks that she was subjected to is– is– was puzzling to me. And I was very clear in the days after those attacks that they weren’t acceptable. So, you know, the good thing is– is that I think she will continue to serve at the U.N. and do an outstanding job. And I think that most Americans recognize that these were largely politically motivated attacked– attacks as opposed to being justified.

GREGORY: You have another series of cabinet choices to make. Former Senator Chuck Hagel has come under criticism for some comments he’s made including about a former ambassador nominee during the Clinton years that being gay was an inhibiting factor to being gay to do an effective job. Is there anything about Chuck Hagel’s record or statements that’s disqualifying to you should you nominate him to run the Defense Department?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I haven’t made a decision about who to nominate. And my number one criteria will be who’s going to do the best job in helping to secure America.

GREGORY: Anything disqualify…

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And…

GREGORY: …him?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Not that I see. I’ve served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate. Somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam. And is somebody who’s currently serving on my Intelligence Advisory Board and doing an outstanding job. So I haven’t made a decision on this. With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it. And I think it’s– it’s a testimony to what has been a positive change over the last decade in terms of people’s attitudes about, you know, gays and lesbians serving our country. And that’s something that I’m very proud to have led. And I think that anybody who serves in my administration understands my attitude and position on those issues.

GREGORY: Mister President, as you look forward to a second term, you think about your legacy, you think about your goals, how frustrated are you at how hard it appears to be to get some of these things done? Very difficult relationship with Congress. People come up to me all the time and say, “Don’t they realize, all of them, the president, Republicans and Democrats, how frustrated we all are?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think we’re all frustrated. You know, the only thing I would– I would caution against, David, is I think this notion of, “Well, both sides are just kind of unwilling to cooperate.” And that’s just not true. I mean if you look at the facts, what you have is a situation here where the Democratic Party, warts and all, and certainly me, warts and all, have consistently done our best to try to put country first. And to try to work with everybody involved to make sure that we’ve got an economy that grows, make sure that it works for everybody, make sure that we’re keeping the country safe. And, you know, the– the– does the Democratic Party still have some knee jerk ideological positions and are there some folks in the Democratic Party who sometimes aren’t reasonable? Of course. That– that’s true of every political party.

But generally if you look at how I’ve tried to govern over the last four years and how I’ll continue to try to govern, I’m not driven by some ideological agenda. I’m a pretty practical guy and I just want to make sure that things work. And– and one of the nice things about never having another election again, I will never campaign again, is, you know, I think you can rest assure that all I care about is making sure that I leave behind an America that is stronger, more prosperous, you know, more stable, more secure than it was when I– I came into office and– and that’s going to continue to drive me. And I– I think that the issue that we’re dealing with right now in the fiscal cliff is a prime example of it. What I’m arguing for are maintaining tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. I don’t think anybody would consider that some liberal left wing agenda. That’s some– that– that used to be considered a pretty mainstream Republican agenda.

And it’s something that we can accomplish today if we simply allow for a vote in the Senate and in the House to get it done. The fact that it’s not happening is an indication of, you know, how far certain factions inside the Republican Party have gone where they– they can’t even accept what used to be considered centrist, mainstream positions on these issues.

Now I re– I remain optimistic, I’m just a congenital optimist, that eventually people kind of see the light. You know, Winston Churchill used to say that we Americans, you know, we– we try every other option before we finally do the right thing. After everything else is exhausted we eventually do the right thing and I– I think that that’s true for Congress as well. And– and I think it’s also important for Americans to remember that politics has always been messy. People have been asking me a lot about the– the film Lincoln and, you know…

GREGORY: Is this your Lincoln moment?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, no. Look, A, I never compare myself to Lincoln and, B, obviously the magnitude of the issues are quite different from the Civil War and slavery. The point, though is, is democracy’s always been messy. And, you know, we’re a big, diverse country that is– is constantly sort of arguing about all kinds of stuff but eventually we do the right thing.

And in this situation I’m confident that one or two things are going to happen when it comes to the fiscal cliff. Number one, we’re going to see an agreement in the next 48 hours, in which case middle class taxes will not go up. If that doesn’t happen, then Democrats in the Senate will put a bill on the floor of the Senate and Republicans will have to decide if they’re going to block it, which will mean that middle class taxes do go up. I don’t think they would want to do that politically but they may end up doing it.

And if all else fails, if Republicans do in fact decide to block it, so that taxes on middle class families do in fact go up on January 1st, then we’ll come back with a new Congress on January 4th and the first bill that will be introduced on the floor will be to cut taxes on middle class families. And, you know, I– I don’t think the average person’s going to say, “Gosh, you know, that’s a– that’s a really partisan agenda on the part of either the president or Democrats in Congress.” I think people will say, “That makes sense, because that’s what the economy needs right now.”

So if– one way or another, we’ll get through this. Do I wish that things were more orderly in Washington and rational and people listened to the best arguments and compromised and operated in a– in– in a more thoughtful and organized fashion? Absolutely. But when you look at history that’s– that’s been the exception rather than the norm.

(End videotape)

GREGORY: My interview with President Obama. Coming up, reaction to the interview and what it tells us about what his second term will look like. Joining me, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, executive editor at Random House Jon Meacham, David Brooks of the New York Times and our political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd. All coming up, next.

(Announcements)

GREGORY: Coming up, reaction from our roundtable this morning. You’ve just heard the president lay out his big agenda items for the second term–immigration, the economy, energy and middle class tax cuts, not to mention gun control. But can he realistically get any of them done given Washington’s track record of dysfunction? (Unintelligible) roundtable is here to break it all down after this brief commercial break.

(Announcements)

(Videotape)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m confident that one or two things are going to happen when it comes to the fiscal cliff. Number one, we’re going to see an agreement in the next 48 hours, in which case middle class taxes will not go up. If that doesn’t happen, then Democrats in the Senate will put a bill on the floor of the Senate and Republicans will have to decide if they’re going to block it, which will mean that middle class taxes do go up. I don’t think they would want to do that politically but they may end up doing it.

(End videotape)

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

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

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

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

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

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