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 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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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 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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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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.

Political Headlines December 28, 2012: Congressional Leaders Invited to Oval Office for Fiscal Cliff Meeting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Congressional Leaders Invited to Oval Office for Fiscal Cliff Meeting

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-28-12

Washington hasn’t taken much action lately to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, but lawmakers have been doing a lot of talking about it.  And more talk is scheduled for Friday.

President Obama has invited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the White House Friday afternoon for a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss the issue.

A spokesman for Boehner says the speaker will stress at the meeting that “the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 27, 2012: White House Says It Has No New Fiscal Cliff Plan

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Says It Has No New Fiscal Cliff Plan

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-27-12

Edward Linsmier/Getty Images

The White House said on Friday it has no plans to offer new proposals to avoid the fiscal cliff which looms over the country’s economy just days away from now, but will meet Friday with Congressional leaders in a last ditch effort to forge a deal.

Republicans and Democrats made no conciliatory gestures in public on Thursday, despite the urgency.

The White House said President Obama would meet Friday with Democratic and Republican leaders. But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the Republican, “will continue to stress that the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 27, 2012: Harry Reid Goes After John Boehner at Fiscal Cliff’s Edge

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Reid Goes After Boehner at Cliff’s Edge

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-27-12

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

UPDATE: The House will return for legislative business on Sunday evening.

With only five days left before the federal government goes over the fiscal cliff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shattered any pretense of cooperation with Republicans in a scathing speech that targeted House Republicans and particularly Speaker John Boehner.

Reid, D-Nev., spoke on the floor of the Senate as President Obama returned to Washington early from an Hawaiian vacation in what appears to be a dwindling hope for a deal on taxes and spending cuts before the Jan. 1 deadline that will trigger tax increases and sharp spending cuts.

Boehner, however, has not returned to Washington from a Christmas break and has not called the House back into session….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines December 22, 2012: GOP Weekly Address: Speaker John Boehner on Averting the Fiscal Cliff

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Weekly Republican Address: Speaker Boehner on Averting the Fiscal Cliff

Source: Speaker.gov, 12-21-12

Posted by Speaker Boehner Press Office
December 21, 2012
Press Release

Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) notes that the House has acted to avert the entire fiscal cliff, and President Obama and his Democratic-controlled Senate now must do the same.  “We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Congress and the White House on a plan that protects families and small businesses,” Boehner says, before wishing all Americans a Merry Christmas.

NOTE: The Weekly Republican Address: The audio is available here, and video of the address will be available here to view and here to download.   A full transcript follows.

Download Audio | YouTube | Download Video

“As you know, unless President Obama and Congress take action, tax rates will go up on every American on January 1st.

“The day after that, a mandatory ‘sequester’ will go into effect that will implement harmful cuts to our national defense.  That is currently the law of the land.

“The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff.  On the 10th of May and again on Thursday, we passed legislation that would replace the ‘sequester’ with responsible spending cuts.  We also passed a bill to stop all of the January 1 tax hikes.  The events of the past week make it clearer than ever that these measures reflect the will of the House.

“The American people re-elected President Obama on Election Day.  They also re-elected a Republican majority in the House.  In doing so, they gave us all a mandate.  It was not a mandate to raise tax rates on families and small businesses.  It was a mandate for us to work together to begin solving the massive debt that threatens our country’s future.

“Unfortunately, the president and Senate Democrats have vowed to reject and veto all of our proposals while failing to offer a responsible solution of their own.

“What the president has offered so far simply won’t do anything to solve our spending problem and begin to address our nation’s crippling debt.  Instead, he wants more spending and more tax hikes that will hurt our economy.  And he refuses to challenge the members of his party to deal honestly with entitlement reform and the big issues facing our nation.  That is why we find ourselves here today.

“I’ve challenged the members of our party to grapple with these issues, to make tough choices.  And we’re willing to – because Washington has a serious spending problem.  This was the year the size of our debt – all 16 trillion dollars of it – surpassed the size of our entire economy.  It’s a grim milestone, one of many we’ll have to bear if we don’t come to grips with it.

“The president’s solution of raising tax rates would still leave red ink as far as the eye can see.  And it would hurt jobs, at a time when far too many of our citizens are struggling to find them.

“I used to run a small business.  I’ve seen the damage higher taxes can do to jobs and families.  I don’t want tax rates to go up.  Republicans don’t want tax rates to go up.  The best way to address our crippling debt is to make significant spending cuts and fix our tax code to pave the way for long-term growth and opportunity.  This is an approach most Americans support, and it remains Republicans’ highest priority.   But we only run the House.  Democrats run Washington.

“Of course, hope springs eternal, and I know we have it in us to come together and do the right thing.  We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Congress and the White House on a plan that protects families and small businesses.

“For now, I wish all the American people a blessed and merry Christmas.”

Political Headlines December 22, 2012: GOP Weekly Address: House Speaker Boehner on Working to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Weekly Address: House Speaker Boehner on Working to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-22-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Boehner, having removed the proposed “Plan B” as an option in fiscal cliff talks, delivered this week’s Republican address about the will of the House to avert the fiscal deadline.

Boehner, R- Ohio, noted that Americans re-elected President Obama and a Republican House majority as mandate “for us to work together to begin solving the massive debt that threatens our country’s future.”

“Unfortunately,” the Speaker says, “the president and Senate Democrats have vowed to reject and veto all of our proposals while failing to offer a responsible solution of their own.”…READ MORE

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