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The Fiscal Cliff

With Bob Oakes in for Tom Ashbrook

We’ll get the latest on the fast-approaching fiscal cliff.

Red lights illuminate Pennsylvania Avenue as the U.S. Capitol glows in the twilight, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, as talks continue on the looming fiscal cliff. (AP)

Red lights illuminate Pennsylvania Avenue as the U.S. Capitol glows in the twilight, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, as talks continue on the looming fiscal cliff. (AP)

Forget the bottles of bubbly and champagne toasts; Washington isn’t in a party mood this New Year’s Eve.

When the clock strikes midnight, the country could plunge over the fiscal cliff. Extended unemployment benefits cut. Payroll taxes up. Markets on edge. And more pain to come.

So, what’s it going to take to make a deal? Is this really how the New Year will start?

It’s down to the wire with fingers crossed, tempers high, and the outcome anyone’s guess.

-Karen  Shiffman

Guests

Margaret Talev, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News.

Chuck Babington, covers Congress for the Associated Press.

Alice Rivlin, senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution.

From The Reading List

New York Times “Senate leaders and their aides began searching on Saturday for a formula to extend tax cuts for most Americans that could win bipartisan support in the Senate and final approval in the divided House by the new year, hoping to prevent large tax increases and budget cuts that could threaten the fragile economy.”

Politico “Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander pitched a plan on Friday to cut federal spending by $1 trillion — much of it from Medicare — in exchange for increasing the nation’s borrowing limit by that amount. The plan would raise the Medicare eligibly age to 67 and require wealthier Medicare users to pay higher premiums. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has estimated extraordinary measures can push the necessity of Congress addressing the debt ceiling until perhaps February.”

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  • Mike_Card

    And now, the Honey Boo-Boo solution from 2 republican hillbillies.  Why am I unsurprised that they keep acting like they won the election?  They probably still think they did.

    • sickofthechit

       They did win.  They weren’t tarred and feathered or tossed out on their butts! charles a.bowsher

      • Mike_Card

        Fair enough; a guy needs to take his victories however they come.  I, for example, woke up again this morning!

    • hennorama

      Whatever the “Honey Boo-Boo solution” may be, I’m glad I don’t understand the reference.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        C’mon, I don’t watch television and even I know what the Honey Boo-Boo mentality is all about. It’s like American Idol, I’ve never seen it but I unfortunately know all about it none the less.

        • hennorama

          Drew – I’m familiar with the existence of the show and view it as a Sign Of The Apocalypse and/or Fall Of The Roman Empire. But I don’t understand what the “Honey Boo-Boo solution” is and won’t waste another instant trying.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Do you mean the term, or the actual idea of raising the Medicare age?

            I don’t know about the term as applied here. (I’m aware of the show it refers to.)

            The idea of “helping” Medicare by removing the youngest, therefore healthiest, members from the pool of Medicare patients is a bad one, I figure.

      • Mike_Card

        It’s the Politico entry at the top of the page.

        • hennorama

          TY Mike

          • Mike_Card

            YW.  And let me add that I enjoy reading your thoughts.

      • sickofthechit

         I think the “Honey Boo Boo solution from two Republican hillbillies is a reference to Boehner (southern Ohio) and McConnell (Kentucky) {Hillbilly bastions} whose ideas are of such a low caliber as to spring from a mind similar to Honey Boo Boo’s mother (a sad reality show chariacture featured on  of all places “The Learning Channel”) who thinks that all her overweight, ill-mannered, lightly educated 8 year old daughter needs is a new outfit or manners training to win the next “Pageant”

        I couldn’t seem to stop myself from commenting even though I have never
        fully watched the show and got most of my impression from watching the
        South Park version of Honey Boo Boo  wherein Eric Cartman squares off
        against Honey Boo Boo on a Jerry Springer type show.  Worth seeing.

        • hennorama

          sickofthechit – TY for the South Park tip. It seems that South Park has a show for every topic, in the same way Seinfeld once did.

  • JGC

    Part of the negotiation problem is the Majority Whip keeps demanding a Chained CPI…

    • Mike_Card

      Which, btw, is a totally fraudulent guise to further take money from those most in need; just like the fictional “core” inflation rate.

  • Steve__T

    The headlines,”…fast-approaching fiscal cliff” is marketing sensationalism at its best. This has been more like watching an entire movie in slow motion.

    IF we go, will it be more like a prat fall, a fall on or into something soft or will things suddenly speed up comically?
    Will there be wailing and gnashing of teeth? 
    Or will we really feel it?
    Stay tuned!

    Happy Fiscal Cliff everyone!

    • PithHelmut

      Politicians swinging watch on chain: fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff.   You’re getting sleepy…

      • nj_v2

        It’s to distract us from things like this (creeping—or is it galloping?—fascism):

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/29/fbi-coordinated-crackdown-occupy

        Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy
        New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

        [[ It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

        The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens. ]]

        (excerpt)

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    This is totally off subject, but it bothers me so much that I will say it anyway.  Irving Pinsky, a Connecticut lawyer, is suing Sandy Hook School District for $100 million over the recent massacre that occurred.  You can’t get much lower than trying to profit over an unfortunate situation in which the school district did all that it could to prevent such an incident.  It is no wonder that lawyers are held in such low regard.  By the way, did you hear about the series of stamps the post office came out with honoring lawyers?  But, after a short while, they had to discontinue the series because people couldn’t figure out which side of the stamp that they were supposed to spit on.

    • Steve_in_Vermont

      Time was when someone did something like this the community would ostracize
      them, forcing them to leave the state in shame. Today there is no sense of
      shame, or (social) penalty for doing something so despicable.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Profitable outweighs Honorable, right?

        • Gregg Smith

          They are not mutually exclusive.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            On this I agree we disagree.

          • Gregg Smith

            I agree.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            Just out of curiosity, are Profitable and Charitable mutually exclusive in your view?

          • Gregg Smith

            One can certainly be more charitable if they are profitable. Bill Gates come to mind.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            Check this out when you have time. I promise it’s nothing like the five minutes of your life you’ll never get back that wasn’t intended for your viewing.

            http://www.npr.org/2012/08/20/158947667/study-reveals-the-geography-of-charitable-giving

      • Prairie_W

         Steve — you’ve hit on something that’s been bugging me for years:  the absence of social disapproval.  Just the idea of “social disapproval” is anathema to, well, to many on my side of the political divide… liberals.  But they’re wrong.  Having to feel shame among your peers is a strong incentive to think straight before you act.  Now you get, instead, the reward of fame, or at least mention.  It keeps coming back to the horrible plague of “me” in our culture.  “Me” has become so important that “we” and “they” have become the enemy.  I can remember when that started.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          It’s been present since inception, though the ramp up the past thirty five years is as impressive as it is distressing.

  • sickofthechit

    I wish everyone would define clearly what they mean by “middle class”.  To me it ought to be based on the Median income level (meaning that level of income that one half of Americans make more than and one half make less than).  I know it isn’t anywhere near $250,000/year.  It is more like $50,000/year (fifty thousand).  I would think “Middle Class” would then be 25% of the population above and 25% of the population below the median.  Say $25,000 to $125,000/year.  Why can’t they just do something that helps the lowest 75%?  I mean for goodness sakes we are only talking about 4.6% in additional taxes for income over $125,000/year.  Is there no end to their greed and avarice?  charles a. bowsher

    P.S.(It is hard to decide whether to use Median Household Income ($50,054/year) or Median Family Household Income ($62,273/year).  Numbers are from the Census bureau for 2011.)cab

    • hennorama

      sickofthechit – excellent points.

      Both Presidential candidates defined the “middle class” as those making less than $250K.  This includes many who are in the Top 5% according to income.  Using Census “Households” data:

      Lowest quintile: incomes of $20,262 or less in 2011
      Second quintile: incomes between $20,263 and $38,520
      Third quintile: incomes between $38,521 and $62,434
      Fourth quintile: incomes between $62,435 and $101,582.
      Highest quintile had incomes of $101,583 or more

      The top 5 percent had incomes of $186,000 or more.

      It’s important to note a few things about the Census data.  First, they are estimates based on surveys.  Second, the definition of “household” includes unrelated individuals living together.  Third, the Income Estimates include the following as “money income received” for each person age 15 or older:

      1. Earnings
      2. Unemployment compensation
      3. Workers’ compensation
      4. Social security
      5. Supplemental security income
      6. Public assistance
      7. Veterans’ payments
      8. Survivor benefits
      9. Disability benefits
      10. Pension or retirement income
      11. Interest
      12. Dividends
      13. Rents, royalties, and estates and trusts
      14. Educational assistance
      15. Alimony
      16. Child support
      17. Financial assistance from outside of the household
      18. Other income

      Obviously, not all of these items are subject to income taxes.

      Sources:http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar12.pdf

      http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf

      • DrewInGeorgia

        “First, they are estimates based on surveys.”

        Thank you, my thoughts exactly.

        • hennorama

          Drew – TY for your kind words. As usual, defining the terms, parameters, and sources of data is important. The Census posts their confidence ratings about their estimates as well, which is appreciated. Here’s what they say about their numbers:

          “The estimates in this report (which may be shown in text, figures, and tables) are based on responses from a sample of the population and may differ from actual values because of sampling variability or other factors. As a result, apparent differences
          between the estimates for two or more groups may not be statistically significant. All comparative statements have undergone statistical testing and are significant at the 90 percent confidence level unless otherwise noted.”

          (same source as original post)

  • Gregg Smith

    As bad as the cliff would be, I’m ready to jump. I remember debating with right wingers years ago who swore they would not support a RINO like Romney. The argument was it’s better to go down in flames and rebuild. I always disagreed and said a sack of concrete would be better than Obama. They said there was no difference in the destination just the timing for arrival and it would be better to go ahead and face it. I never bought into that. Now Obama has been reelected and the point is moot. We’re doomed as a nation and will implode. If there is any hope it is the calamity will be bad enough to shake things up and force politicians on both sides to actually do something meaningful. I hate to see the pain but it’s inevitable. I have prepared myself. Let’s jump.

    • jefe68

      Chicken Little has spoken.
      This entire thing is manufactured and created by the GOP who have mandated since President Obama took office in 09 to obstruct everything he wanted to do. Now the Republicans lost and they act as if they won. What’s really telling is how the nation is polling on this with the GOP members of Congress in the low teens and Congress as a whole at about 37% on this fiscal mess with the President coming out at 47%.

      The GOP is going to lose out the most here, and it’s a good thing in my view as they are now officially the party of crazy white men.

      • Gregg Smith

        That is totally unrooted from reality but speaking of Chicken Little, we’re plucked.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I’m not gonna take it as far as jefe but you gotta admit this was a bit over the top Gregg.

      “We’re doomed as a nation and will implode”
      “I have prepared myself. Let’s jump.”

      If we implode and you jump at the moment of implosion will you reach escape velocity”? lol

      • Gregg Smith

        If you are in an elevator that breaks a cable and plunges, simply jump when it hits bottom and you’ll be fine. Same thing.

        You know what Drew, I sincerely believe we are doomed and will implode. My comments for the last couple of years around here were not because I thought things were peachy. I believed Obama when he said he would fundamentally transform America. I’m not alright with that but it’s too late to stop it.

  • RolloMartins

    Privately held debt runs at around 60%…no big deal. Deficits are not a problem in the US unless you are a state. But both the Dems and the GOP are intent on reducing Medicare and SS. It seems Wall St is getting its way, which is how it must be since they seem to own the parties. Plutocracy, anyone?

  • StilllHere

    The president and Reid have shown no leadership whatsoever.  I’m for going over the cliff and finally addressing the overspending in DC.  My only fear is that politicians and the whole bureaucracy will find a way around the spending cuts.

    I would like a farm bill passed however.

    • jefe68

      Yawn…

    • Gregg Smith

      There is a huge downside and Republicans will be blamed but they will be blamed no matter what. I’m with you.

      • StilllHere

        Only by the Democrat media, no surprise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    Two words …. CARBON TAX!

    That would raise the revenue we need, would create millions of jobs in a healthy way, and slow down global warming — the real cliff — the climate cliff!

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Two words …. Fiscal Cliff.

      I think this may be the show you were looking for:
      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2009/04/21/the-big-green-moment

      • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

        Umm…… i am aware what this show is about, and i am saying that a carbon tax can avert the fiscal cliff. I am on point.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Off Point and Off Topic, not that I really mind.
          Any level of compromise between the morons orchestrating the Dog and Pony Show would avert The Fiscal Cliff. Hell, even a lack of Media Coverage would show The Fiscal Cliff to be the long-time-coming Fiscal Speed-Bump it really is.

          On second though, Carbon Tax Talk away my friend. It’s gotta be at least as productive as all the wheel spinning that’s been taking place the past several months.

          • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

            It’s a way to raise a HUGE amount of revenue that we need, by taxing pollution, not work … and to cause the change we need and to create jobs right now, while we need them … !   But opposed by the oil and gas industry, and therefore politically impossible … like an equation with a simple solution that we are supposed to pretend doesn’t exist .. ah so frustrating .. i share your frustration … it is a Dog and Pony Show and not even a good one at that, a pretty B-grade movie in my opinion.

          • DrewInGeorgia
  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    We need a carbon tax. The only problem is that it goes against the biggest lobby that virtually owns our government, and even had two of their own people as the last administration … the oil and gas lobby. It’s them or us now.  Who is it going to be?

  • anamaria23

    This is an entirely predictable outcome set in motion the day that Mitch McConnell stood on the floor of the  United States Senate and stated that the Repubs ONLY priority should  be to make Barack Obama a one term President giving the green light to destroy any reasonable governing process.  Outrageous. And the Repubs now cry Victim! 
    Boehner declared in the last negotiations that he got 98% of what he wanted and the President was called “weak” for acting in the best interests of the country. 
    The country is in a shambles, ungovernable.  The people should be outraged.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      This people IS outraged, not so sure about the rest-a-the people though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Patrick-Dwyer-Jr/100002088204784 James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

       You nailed it anamaria23. I agree with you 100 percent.

    • StilllHere

      More excuse-making for a president who can’t and won’t lead.

      The people voted for the status quo, no outrage there.

      • anamaria23

        Though far from perfect, this President has led on some significant issues that have been neglected for generations despite the obstacles presented.
        You just don’t like issues.

    • Don_B1

      @anamaria23:disqus @DrewInGeorgia:disqus @jefe68:disqus @hennorama:disqus 

      It is true in all but one minor aspect: Senator McConnell made the statement at a think tank or conservative conference, not the U.S. Senate (it just made it take a bit longer to become widely known).But part of the problem began over 40 years ago, when conservatives decided that taxes were too high and “entitlements” were also too costly. They set out to build a mindset in the American people that government was “the problem, not the solution” for most issues, and began a “war on taxes,” particularly the upper marginal rates, so as to “starve the beast” and create the impression that the entitlements would have to be cut as there was not enough money. That is why they have focused on the debt and deficits issue once the ARRA (stimulus) passed and stopped the economic free-fall of the financial crisis/Recession of 2007-2009. But they have carefully prevented the necessary additional stimulus to power a stronger recovery.They are talking $1 trillion deficits forever without cutting spending, but this is false as has been shown a number of times recently.The current size of the deficit is driven in large measure by the continuing depression, the fact of high unemployment (safety net expenditures — numerator) and reduced output (GDP — denominator) resulting in a higher spending to GDP ratio than a normal economy would produce.

      See:

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-26/the-deficit-not-as-bad-as-they-want-you-to-think.html

      and

      http://www.businessinsider.com/closing-the-deficit-is-painless-2012-12

      and then see Paul Krugman’s column today:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/opinion/krugman-brewing-up-confusion.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

      • anamaria23

        I appreciate your enlightening and thoughtful response and can learn from it.
        My comment was to express frustration  at the deliberate  tactics employed to destroy a Presidency as a first priority and thus  the inability for the nation to move forward to address issues  of urgency in  the 21st century in a reasonable way.
         
         
         
         

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    This is how the U.S. gets austerity, without any politician having to vote for such a toxic thing. This is the shaft. This is the turn of the screw.

    The greatest irony is that a carbon tax would raise the revenue we need, would create millions of jobs, and would use the market to change our behaviors to avert global warming — the real cliff is the Climate Cliff, and we’re heading right over that one too!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Thank you – austerity is the word they don’t want to use, but that’s exactly what it is.

      • Prairie_W

         And it goes beyond that into political dirty waters.  As Paul Krugman continues to point out, allowing Republican to get away with this is allowing them to set us up for a repeat, deeper recession.  Why would they want that?  Could it be because this time it would be the “Obama recession” or the “Democrat [their word] recession” — with the subsequent effect on elections in ’14 and ’16?

        Gee, maybe!!

        Doesn’t matter a damn to Republicans how many people they hurt.  And a recession doesn’t effect only Democrats…

    • JAIBEEZ

      Quick question…are you in favor of a carbon tax?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        lol

      • sickofthechit

         I am not in favor of a carbon tax, nor am I in favor of the subsidy society gives in favor of all corporations meeting the actual costs of their “production”.  In Kentucky we have abandoned coal mine sites (above and below ground), we have dirty air, dirty water, poor health, stunted economic opportunity in areas that have given their all (resource-wise and human-wise) yet they continue to suffer from poverty, high unemployment, poor educational opportunities, and a severely degraded environment including hundreds of miles of streams buried forever under millions of tons of mining debris, oh wait, “over-burden”.  So when will the “actual” cost of resource extraction be paid for and by who? or whom? 

        I just want a more complete, accurate accounting of what is really going on around the country.  Letting someone cut a corner today, costs us all many times their current savings at some future date. charles a. bowsher

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Fiscal cliff – a Congressional exercise of trying to make a mole hill out of a mountain.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Trying? I think they can comfortably claim success at this point.

    • Don_B1

      Unfortunately, in this case, they DID MAKE/HAVE MADE a mountain out of a mole hill.

      The deficit problem is temporary, or at least as temporary as the unemployment problem, and curing the latter is at least 90% of the solution to the former.Please see my earlier post in reply to anamaria23 for links to articles that debunk the necessity to radically cut spending to reduce the deficits to sustainable levels. This is not to say that some revenue increases are unnecessary. With the Simpson-Bowles plan calling for revenue increases of $2.6 trillion (over 10 years), even President Obama’s proposed $1.6 trillion and current request of only $1.2 trillion is definitely not enough.In the current economic depression, it is understandable that most Americans do not want to pay increased taxes, but when a full recovery is achieved, if the Republicans are forced to allow it, then the additional revenue can be attained, because the American people can be convinced that the things they want, Social Security, Medicare, and the other parts of the social safety net are worth paying for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    Cartoon by Toles: 

    http://karmacarpentry.com/CarbonTaxNow.png

    Hmm.. fiscal cliff, global warming? What can we do? Gee, i don’t know…

  • Stephen_Mangion

    According to the Washington Post:
    Now the D’s are willing to keep the estate tax at a low level rather than reverting to pre-Bush numbers.
    Looks liker the Ds will take care of the 1-2%, right?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    “and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men…”

    • DrewInGeorgia

      couldn’t put Mr. Hankey back together again…
      Maybe they shouldn’t have shoved him of the wall then dropped an anvil on his head.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

      … couldn’t say a single true word …

  • just_another_concerned_citizen

    End fossil fuel subsidies and set up a carbon tax reflective of the costs US citizens have payed and will continue to pay because of the changes in climate and the environmental impacts of these products. Sandy, no matter the cause, and two years of droughts (=increase in food prices, uncertainty of cereal prices world wide) are harbingers of the increasing costs almost all mainstream scientists predict in the near future. We cannot afford such losses. 

    There is a leak in the economy and it is getting bigger. Any economic plan grounded in reality must take this into account and address it. 

    • StilllHere

      End all subsidies to all entities including the earned income and child tax credit.  Why discriminate?  

      Removing subsidies will result in the higher gas prices you crave so a carbon tax will just be redundant.

      • just_another_concerned_citizen

        Unlike households with children, approximately a quarter of which suffer from food scarcity, companies selling fossil fuels made billions in profit. That is why some people argue we should discriminate. The argument would be that we, as US citizens, should prioritize investments in our youth above handouts to international corporations. 

        The fee and dividend approach to a carbon tax, supported by both conservatives and progressives, would evenly distribute the money from a carbon fee to US citizens. We are the people paying to clean up the messes that fossil fuel companies leave. Because it would be distributed evenly, this would more than offset the costs to people who’s emissions were not above average. This is just one way to implement this, but the concept is that those creating expensive messes pay for it. 

        Beyond that, fossil fuels, while useful in the past are no longer the cutting edge technology. Renewables are growing quickly- they are sustainable and they do not take lives and ruin us financially and environmentally the way fossil fuels do. They rely on sources of power that are simply more abundant. People like this and that is why they are growing steadily. It puts the country in a stronger position if we embrace this new technology early- not after the market has been cornered. Since we can do that while addressing the immediate fiscal situation- why not go for it?

        Thank you for the question.

        • StilllHere

          There’s no such thing as good discrimination, but simplification is always good especially when it comes to the tax code.

          • just_another_concerned_citizen

            Well then, Fee and Dividend is about as simple as it gets. Make the fossil fuel companies pay for their own damage, then distribute the proceeds to US citizens who currently pay the costs. This simplicity is a major reason it is supported by both conservatives and progressive liberals. 

            The subsidies for fossil fuels are about as far from simple as one can get. In terms of discrimination, those made to the increasingly obsolete fossil fuel industry over the past 15 years far exceed those to renewables (a market that has expanded despite this). 

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Aren’t they already paying too much to clean up the environment? I mean, those whales and otters in the image ads look pretty happy.

            (I have to point out that I’m going full-on deadpan here, since you may not know me, and I realize that most every image ad from a coal or oil company “celebrating” is pimping their court-ordered attempts to clean up their own mess.)

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Funny how gas prices went up all by themselves without removing any subsidies.

        You’re choosing to die on the hill of “we have to subsidize these megabillion mulitnationals so John Urban and Jane Rural Povertydwellers continue to have $3.xx-for-now gas”.

        Not a solid concept.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    US citizens have a backwards perspective on this fiscal cliff.   The real situation is that the outcome has already been decided by the elites who control BOTH sides of congress… just like the wars and financial bailouts that the citizens never wanted.

    Never-the-less, the kabookee theatre “across the isle” charade goes on to convince the sheeple of their fantasy that they live under a true democracy.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    I am aiming to make all of my commentary today completely irrelevant…just like the current show.

    • Gregg Smith

      Bravo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000134957859 Ron Hamann

    Last year we were at the same cliff, with the same congressional gridlock.  The U. S. credit rating was downgraded.  What was the effect of that credit rating downgrade.  How much has that downgrade cost us in interest?

    • PithHelmut

      The mandate for Republicans is to keep the 1% from paying higher taxes. That is all that matters and they will prevail! But why not get some theatrical mileage out of it in the meantime. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    I called in at 10:15 and said i would say that we need a carbon tax … and was on hold for 5 minutes and then told “I’m sorry, we’re not going to get to that this hour.”  A serious solution, not even entering the debate, once again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

      … so will someone else who does get on, please mention the carbon tax? 

    • StilllHere

      Today’s discussion is pointless, your contribution would have fit in perfectly; not sure why the screener made their call.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Washington is like an alcoholic trying to figure out how to be sober but get to keep on drinking.

  • PithHelmut

    I don’t know why we waste so much of our limited life time speculating on this government which is totally rancid and useless. It’s a tall order but we could be spending our time practicing new systems such as a Sociocratic system. http://www.sociocracy.biz/

    The site discusses Sociocracy in business but the principles apply with any group, large or small and has proven results having been practiced in the Netherlands for a decade. We can start small, within our communities and learn how to expand into larger groups.

    We’d be better off without the cretins in federal government. They have squandered our wealth. They kill innocents. They lie and conceal. They are more dangerous to our security than the antiquated terrorists they purport to “protect” us from. We’ll end up with nothing from this gang of vandals. We’re working for nothing. Everything is stacked against The People, even the press. At least On Point discusses these subjects and other critical issues. But it’s rare. Meanwhile the Hamsters keep treading. Nothing but a full-scale moratorium on handing over our taxes and paying banks our debts will have any effect. It’s money that feeds the beast, then we should put it on a diet. We have the internet now, and can vote on issues.  We don’t need politicians, we need competent administrators supported by a viable system.  

  • Bruce94

    Last week I thought I saw Santa and his reindeer

    O’er the fiscal cliff disappear.

    And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

    “Happy Cliffmas to all, and to all on the Tea Party Far-Right,

    As with last year’s credit downgrade and debt ceiling fight,

    Thanks again for raising stupidity & ignorance to a new height!”

  • toc1234

    on point – way to close the year with yet another left-leaning panel.  surprised Jack missed this one.  why do tax payers have to support npr and pbs anyway?

    • Gregg Smith

      Because we have no choice.

      • toc1234

        btw – next time npr/pbs comes calling for cash:

        “Public TV behemoth WGBH has to pony up more than $300,000 as part of a federal civil settlement for what authorities said
        yesterday was shoddy record keeping of federal grant money.                                                                                                                                                                             Under a deal struck with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, WGBH must fork over the money for failing to “properly track and account for” federal grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, according to an announcement yesterday by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. In 2011, a Herald review found that more than a dozen WGBH execs at the taxpayer-subsidized flagship station were making more than $200,000 a year while working in an $85 million multimedia headquarters dubbed the “Taj Mahal.”                                                                                                                               

      • jefe68

        And yet here you are day after day posting your inanity for all to read. I think you’re getting your monies worth. What is it about .0001%.

        • Gregg Smith

          Surely, I get paid to do this. Why else would I listen to both sides?  

    • jefe68

      Childish comment from a right winger who thinks taxes should reflect their ideology instead of what is for the civiv good for the entire society. 

      If you thought this panel was left leaning then that means to me that your so far to the right that Ronald Reagan would seem centrist. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    “They know where their bread is buttered.”  One of the biggest donors of bread and butter is the fossil energy industry, hence no consideration of a carbon tax. HR 6338 has been proposed, and would raise upwards of $100 billion per year, yet is going nowhere.

    • Gregg Smith

      Higher energy costs for every American is not a solution.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

        Higher energy costs are necessary to live right on this planet, and it would create millions of jobs, and result in a dividend to every American. See house bill HR 6338 — dividends to every citizen, which you could then use to insulate your house, buy a better car, better furnace, solar panels, anything … not everything is easy, but we must come into better harmony with the physical world. Your comment is a huge oversimplification of a carbon tax.

        • Gregg Smith

          It’s the bottom line.

        • crtum

          The better car, furnaces, solar panels (didn’t we go down this path Solyndra for example) all have to get to the store somehow.  The cost of everything goes up.  I assume you think that the dividend will offset all these costs.  Some how I doubt that.  What do the people who can not afford new technology do?  Get bigger government checks and we hope they buy new technology instead of a big screen TV….or do we force them to buy government approved products. 
          I am not against living better on the planet but this does not seem to be a solution to anything just bigger government and the same issues.

      • rap12

         Being caught up in these unnecessary, instant, always urgent situations prevents us from moving forward with such things as a carbon tax which would force corporations to clean up their act and eventually level the playing field for the green energy and create more jobs while cleaning up the earth for ourselves and future generations.
        Being caught up in the moment is no excuse to excuse solving the more serious issues that we have all created whether by choice or from being stuck in a world that has been allowed to make a mess of things no matter who we are.

    • OnPointComments

      Providing another source of tax revenue to the Congress would be like giving more crack cocaine to an addict.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

    Bob Oaks keeps asking for callers to call in. I called in at 10:15 and my call was dropped because the screener thought a carbon tax was not relevant. One more illustration of this: http://karmacarpentry.com/CarbonTaxNow.png

  • toc1234

    umm Bob – remember how Obamacare went thru?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    The wealthy bankers have bankrupted the system.  Their crash has been bailed out by the US taxpayers.  In doing so, the bankers private bank, the Federal Reserve, has worsened the situation by their QE solution, of which the burden falls back on the citizens that saved their butts in 2 ways.

    1.  Rampant inflation is inevitable and will affect the rich the least.
    2.  The wealthy are already cleaning up on scooping up the discounted assets of the underclasses who will soon be living in a quasi-feudal society.

    It amazes me that anyone who isnt in the top 5% would consider compromising on anything.

  • crtum

    Does anything that either party has talked about solve any really problem?  No!  Both sides are kicking the can down the road.  Obama simply wants to raise taxes on the rich, evidently popular,  no kidding!? Some one else is going to pay more taxes is popular!  This is simply a political move that does very little towards solving anything. 
    If the majority wants entitlements then lets talk about paying for it!  We will all have to pay more……

    • http://www.facebook.com/sage.radachowsky Sage Radachowsky

      Tax pollution, not jobs, not income.

      • Gregg Smith

        It’s all pulling money out of the private sector to grow government. 

    • rap12

       The so called entitlements, actually rights and investments,  have either already been paid for by the majority of the public, continue to be paid for by the majority of the public and when the majority of the public pays their taxes they are paying into the system which is supposed to then in turn provide each individual in the majority of the public who paid into the system their basic return….not steal it or cut it…
      Perhaps some of the politicians should take a huge pay cut and put that money into the country that they love so well….
      There are other ways to raise revenue, cut spending and create jobs.

      • crtum

        We are currently running over a trillion dollar annual debt. That is the point we are not paying for it. 

        I basically agree with you. Us paying more taxes is stupid.  What makes us believe they will be any more responsible this time around. 
        I think we need to cut spending, starting with the military but extending cuts through out the general budget before we consider raising more taxes.  I think we need tax code reform.  But, in the end, we will all pay more taxes or we will getting less in entitlements or a combo of both.  We can’t just keep borrowing trillions and expect everything to work out fine.

        • rap12

          I think this urgent *Jan 1st, 2012 Fiscal Cliff *thing that’s going on right now does need to have an* *urgent situational solution and that includes the payroll tax cuts to our low wage mostly part time jobs that many of us are lucky to have but yet are barely if at all making it and the unemployed who haven’t been able to gain employment need to have their unemployment checks to secure themselves.

          Later, but just as urgent, we need to create jobs and cut spending. The way we do this needs to be on a fair playing field. *One can’t expect each individual to be able to afford an individual savings account for anything when there is no money to save.*

          Personally, I currently work one part/time job, barter off some of my rent in chores, built web sites that give me some monthly cash from Adsense, (usually for food), grow my own food in a community garden and everywhere else that I can….and the only reason I have health insurance is because of Obamney Care here in Massachusetts, otherwise I couldn’t afford it at all.

          The very wealthy cannot expect to get big tax cuts when the middle class and the poor are going to have their taxes raised in the near future.

          The government needs to get through this urgent situation right now and then from there they need to get the jobs rolling, revenue coming in in a variety of ways.
          Not forgetting that Wall St led us here along with the debt from the illegal wars.

          I think cutting spending and increasing revenue and creating jobs is so important.

          The government can gather eggs of revenue in a variety of carts just like people like me are doing.
          Please don’t think I’m joking about what I think one quick solution to increasing revenue is:

          Tax & Savings Tip
          Legalize Marijuana. Control It. Raise Revenue.

          So many, (most), US Citizens TOKE.

          TAX MARIJUANA
          Create much needed revenue by taxing & regulating (without polluting) Marijuana and end another era of thugs who get rich off of
          their underground UNTAXED & sometimes dangerous enterprises…similar to the fall of
          Al CAPONE at the end of prohibition.

          SAVINGS
          End the war on Marijuana:
          End the never ending inflating bill we tax payers pay for law enforcement to fight this endless ridiculous war.

          End the costs taxpayers pay to house responsible peaceful “tokers” in jail.
          Our friends South of the Border would really appreciate this as well and would perhaps lead to a more wholesome relationship with them.

  • Lee Farris

    Important points that have not been mentioned:

  • Gregg Smith

    Just think how different this could have been if Obama had a budget.

    • StilllHere

      A reasonable one, the last one got no Democrat votes in the Senate.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Obama only controls whether a budget that originates in the House and gets passed by the Senate gets signed into law or not.

      Unless you’re saying Obama controls the majority party in the House?

      • Gregg Smith

        How about the Senate votes on the many budgets passed in the House? How about the President submits a budget that someone, anyone will vote for? How about some leadership from the commander in chief?

        • jefe68

          You know even if Obama turned on some LBJ you would find something to bitch about.

        • rap12

           Hi Gregg
          Perhaps I’ve missed something.
          I’m interested in learning what responsible, well-rounded, fair, unbiased, thoughtful and compassionate solution you may have to suggest?

          • Gregg Smith

            Solution to what? The fiscal cliff? I say jump. The anemic economy? Concentrate of jobs, forget Keynes, cut spending 5% across the board everywhere as a start, 0% capital gains of a year,  get rid of a few Departments, repeal Obamacare, repeal Dodd/Frank, Drill baby drill, pipeline, frack baby frack, get rid of the $47B/year in new regulations and make the tax cuts permanent. That’s the first day.

          • rap12

            These are your entrepreneurial *responsible *solutions?…. these seem to be a mere and thoughtless mimicking of the past…
            quick fixes with tough irrevocable consequences down the road

          • Gregg Smith

            That’s the point, they are not quick fixes. They reflect the gravity of the situation. All they had to do is find $1.2T in cuts over 10 years to avoid the cliff. That’s nothing. It wouldn’t solve squat. And they couldn’t even do that after a year of trying. 

            Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan or Simpson/Bowles were at least on the scale we need. “Cut, cap and Balance” would have prevented the downgrade and it passed the House. The Senate refused to got on it. These cats are not serious. 

          • nj_v2

            ^ Clear evidence of insanity.

    • Mike_Card

      Go ahead–tell how different it would have been.

      The gaggle of looney-tunes in the House insist that any budget include the repeals of Obamacare, Roe v. Wade, Medicare, Medicaid, the privatization of Social Security, and Obama’s admission that he is a Kenyan-born socialist.

      It could have been different, all right.

      • Gregg Smith

        A budget, or better yet 4 by now, would have hinted that maybe there was a plan to justify raising the debt ceiling a year ago. Raising it willy nilly, Congress ceding its power to a dozen chosen ones and their inability to make a deal left S&P no choice but to downgrade. I predict another. A budget demonstrates at least an attempt at fiscal sanity.

        • Mike_Card

          You’re probably right; Congress has consistently demonstrated their disdain for any attempt to make them fiscally responsible.  People get elected to Congress for the purpose of bringing federal money back home, not to prevent the collection of money from their constituencies; i.e. to save tax money.

          The debt ceiling is really a different issue.  If Congress respected their–or anyone’s–budget, that would discipline spending.

          Congress, and especially the teabagger contingent, has taken the attitude that they may spend like drunken idiots and simply refuse to pay the bills by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, or in their nonsensical example, “snip up the credit card.”

          Budgets don’t control spending; they only control expenditures.

  • pete18

    Much more important than the fiscal cliff debate is the monstrous unfunded debt that continues to mount. It’s the reason why entitlements have to be addressed, there’s no amount of magical thinking that can avoid this.

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2012/12/28/mort-zuckerman-brace-for-an-avalanche-of-unfunded-debt

    “The greatest fiscal challenge to the U.S. government is not just its
    annual deficit but its total liabilities. Our federal balance sheet does
    not include the unfunded social insurance obligations of Medicare,
    Social Security, and the future retirement benefits of federal
    employees. Only in the small print of the financial statements do you
    get some idea of the enormous size of the unfunded commitments. Today
    the estimated unfunded total is more than $87 trillion, or 550 percent
    of our GDP. And the debt per household is more than 10 times the median
    family income.

    The public doesn’t know about these awesome liabilities because the
    totals appear only in actuarial estimates. As Chris Cox, former chairman
    of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Bill Archer, former
    chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, recently noted in the Wall Street Journal, the
    real annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security alone is $7
    trillion. The government’s balance sheet does not include any of these
    unfunded obligations but focuses on the current year deficits and the
    accumulated national debt. Cox and Archer reported that the annual
    budget deficit is only about one fifth of the more accurate figure.”
     

    • StilllHere

      We are not prepared for this.  Aging boomers are going to consume our resources, but politicians are only motivated by imminent crises.  This won’t get any play.

    • jefe68

      Well one solution would be to raise the FICA cap to over $2 million. 

    • jimino

      The ONLY federal obligations that are actually funded are Social Security and Medicare.  There is a current surplus of several trillion dollars and using the same financing methods currently in place puts SS on sound financial footing for decades.

      You want to examine TRULY unfunded federal obligations? 
      Military
      Homeland Security
      Intelligence
      CIA
      FBI
      Commerce
      Treasury
      Etc………..

      Why are you advocating, or at the very least acquiescing in, the outright theft of trillions of dollars paid by every working American with the trust that they would be used for paying the benefits for which they are intended?

      • pete18

         There is no social security surplus, that is a fiction. The government has to borrow money or take it from the general revenue to meet it’s SS obligations. I’m advocating that the government has no choice but to reform both SS and Medicare
        because they are no longer self sustaining.

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2011/07/13/what-happened-to-the-2-6-trillion-social-security-trust-fund/2/

        • jimino

          You can submit to having the very real trillions paid (presumably) by you and every other worker stolen, but I will not.  This money was ACTUALLY paid pursuant to as close to a sacred trust that exists, and is secured by the same full faith and credit as every other government obligation.  Selectively defaulting on the ones to its own citizens, forcibly financed by their labor, as you call for, is a betrayal of unprecedented proportions. 

          • pete18

            Interesting conversation that you are having with that straw
            man , keep going if you’re enjoying yourself, but if you want to discuss the
            topic I have on the table

            you need to address the reality that there is no trust fund
            for SS. None of the advocates for reform have stealing IOUS for money already
            paid into the system as part of their formula. That outcome will only happen if
            SS is NOT reformed because it is unsustainable in its current form. Most of the reform ideas have an option for those who want it to change over to
            some sort of private account, which would be credited for the amount of money
            they’ve already paid into the system. They would then be able to direct their ½
            of the payroll tax into that fund, which would have a number of options. The
            idea would be to create a pay as you go system that could be reliable no matter
            what the future demographics become. Right now, older taxpayers are relying on
            having enough younger taxpayers to fund their social security payments.

            One version of this type of reform
            can be found here: http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/social-security-plan-last

            Anytime you want to join the discussion jump on in.

  • imjust Sayin

    I am pro-life, as in the full package of life affirmation.

    So, when we supporters of pro-life throw our support behind conservatives, are we getting anything for that support?

    Will the spending cuts reduce or increase the coercion of single women to have abortions?

    We need to reduce coercion of women regardless of how they became pregnant.  

    How are we helping pregnant women by defending the tax breaks for a few foreign billionaires?

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Man that caller’s commentary sounded familiar. I with ya bub:

    “Why are we even discussing The Fiscal Myth? We’re going off because that’s the only way the culpable parties get to keep playing their game. The Democrats will get at least some of the increased revenue that we NEED while simultaneously giving the Republicans the shiny new whipping post they want. Both get to stay up on their soapboxes and continue their fruitless fussing while watching the rest of us circle the drain.”

    I really do wish I had something new to say, it’d be nice to hear something new as well.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    These folks in congress are our “representatives”, we elected them. Now we don’t like what they are doing. I suggest congress is simply a reflection of us as a society….now that’s a depressing thought. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I agree. We’re disgusted with ourselves so obviously the answer is to refuse to take a look in the mirror.

    • OnPointComments

      I read an article that started “last summer, the Congress rolled up its sleeves, then took a break.”  It should have continued that after the break, the Congress returned to Washington, rolled up its sleeves, then took another break.  It did my heart good to see the Congress in session yesterday and working on a Sunday.  We should require the Congress to work every weekend until they start doing the job that they were elected to do.

    • rap12

       Unfortunately it seems that whenever I vote I am voting for the lesser of 2 evils after they were nominated from a cookie jar full of sweet dreams sponsored by a corporation full of cash….during some kind of a long drawn out football game of ads, ads and more ads.  Who’s the winner…who’s the loser?  Democracy?

    • Mattyster

       Just a reminder that Democrats got more votes for Congress than Republicans.  It’s just that after 2010 (when the electorate really blew it) Republicans took over many state legislatures and were able to gerrymander congressional districts to ensure a Republican majority no matter what the voters want.

  • OnPointComments

    Boehner/McConnell should offer President Obama the option to revert to the Clinton tax rates at whatever level he wants ($250,000, a million, whatever he chooses), paired with a spending level that is so high that it is “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” (President Obama’s words), i.e., the FY2007 Bush spending level.  The country would get $80 billion or so additional revenue, and annual spending would be a trillion dollars less.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    More righty media bias. 

    Still using “entitlement reform” to sugar coat CUTS in SS and Medicare. Wouldn’t the headlines look different if “TeaOP demanded progress on entitlement reform” was replaced by the honest “TeaOP demanded cuts in SS and medicare”? C’mon, Tom, don’t let them get away with “entitlement reform” when they mean CUTS. And why are we talking about SS, which does not contribute to the deficit, at all? Why isn’t this stated every time someone throws SS on the table?

    It’s crystal clear to me that the righty agenda is making the rich richer and to hell with everything else. They only care about the deficit and debt as a scare tactic.

    Why no mention that putting an expiration date on the Bush tax cuts was a textbook righty tactic? You say they’re only temporary. That makes the CBO est of the increase in the deficit less bad. Then when expiration time rolls around, you say Oh No, we can’t increase taxes on Americans. IOW, you intended them to be permanent all along.  Why don’t the media spell this out? You’re playing their game, Tom.

    Why no mention that at the time it was argued we were reducing the debt too fast, so we needed tax cuts. If you’re really concerned abut the debt now, that means you should want them to expire, right? Maybe you should want taxes at the top higher than the clinton rates. Maybe you should want a financial transactions tax, etc. Why are the clinton rates the ceiling?

    There is almost no progressive voice in the corporate media, including NPR.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I was ready to write this, but you got there first. (Well, with the exception of terms like “Beltway Inbred” and “setting the narrative”.)

      • TomK_in_Boston

        LOL, great minds…

    • jefe68

      It’s very telling how the right is on a constant battle cry about SS. It’s about ending this New Deal social program, and nothing more. The GOP has been at it since FDR brought it into play.

      It’s interesting to note that recently former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had an agenda to end the NHS, but even her conservative cabinet of the day revolted at the notion. It’s no coincidence that former President Ronald Reagan admired her.   

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/dec/28/margaret-thatcher-role-plan-to-dismantle-welfare-state-revealed?INTCMP=SRCH

      • TomK_in_Boston

        It’s pathetic. SS doesn’t contribute to the deficit, the TeaOP throws it on the table anyway, and now the wimpy Dems are proud of themselves that they got got it taken off the table in a  “compromise”. If they were in the 5′th grade the other kids would be scamming them out of their lunch money.

        • jefe68

          It is pathetic, sad as well that the Democrats can’t draw a line in the sand and force the GOP to give in. The national polls are on their side. The GOP is in the doghouse in terms of how they a majority of Americans think of them. But alas, the Democrats will give away the store regardless.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            The GoP wants to fight to the death for extremely unpopular positions. Isn’t the obvious response to let them? 

      • Gregg Smith

        SS is the most predictable and preventable train wreck in the universe. Let’s wait for more baby boomers, continue defunding it with Payroll tax cuts and add a few more trillion dollar deficit years. That’s smart. I’m thinking it will instill confidence in our economy and raise our credit rating. You guys are geniuses. 

        • JGC

          I would like to see Social Security reform come up, but later in 2013, perhaps just in time to ruin the summer holiday plans of Congress.

          It doesn’t belong in the overall budget negotiations, at this point.

          • Gregg Smith

            I guess I agree but it’s kind of silly to go four years without a budget and negotiate now. This isn’t the best scenario. I can’t see SS ever being addressed, despite endless promises, unless there is this kind of pressure… and even then. Still sucks.

          • JGC

            Yep.

    • hennorama

      Many Congressional Republicans’ views on Federal deficits and debt seem to depend on who is President.  Many voted for increased deficits and debt under Pres. Bush II, then after Pres. Obama was elected, suddenly got “deficit and debt  fever” and now appear to think all Federal deficits and debt are bad.

      While we do expect some of this “adaptability” from politicians, this hypocrisy is fairly breathtaking.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        The hypocrisy, flip-flopping, craziness etc of the GoP makes perfect sense once you realize that their agenda is class warfare and they regard concern about the deficit as a tactic to be used when it favors their cause, and otherwise ignored. So, when cutting taxes on the rich, “deficits don’t matter” (cheney). When cutting SS and medicare, the deficit becomes VERY important, and we better screw the middle class or we’ll “end up like Greece”.

      • OnPointComments

        hy·poc·ri·sy [hi-pok-ruh-see]
        A pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess. 
         
        “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents – #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”
        –Barack Obama
         
        Today the national debt is more than $16 trillion dollars.

        • Gregg Smith

          By any measure (spending to debt, spending too GDP, deficit to GDP, real dollars) we haven’t seen this kind of numbers since WWII. To compare this to Bush (which was bad enough) is completely illogical. It’s apples and jackhammers.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Nonsense. Most of “Obama’s deficit” is the aftermath of the Bush economic crash, and the Bush tax cuts, Bush wars, and Bush Medicare D with no price negotiation were racking up deficits from the second he entered office. You can blame him for not reversing the Bush policies fast enough, but somehow I don’t think that’s what you have in mind.

          • Gregg Smith

            That is so bogus. The case cannot be made. They are party line talking points.

        • hennorama

          Thanks for the reply OPC. Your point is well taken. Federal debt increased about 85% during Pres. Bush II’s time in office, and has increased about 54% thus far during Pres. Obama’s administration.

          However, the reasons for the debt increases are distinctly different. Under Pres. Bush II, the debt increase was primarily due to optional factors – multiple tax cuts, two wars, the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security, and Medicare Part D to name a few. Under Pres. Obama, the increases have been principally due to the Great Recession and its aftermath.

          • OnPointComments

            The problem is, is that the way Obama has done it over the last four years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $10 trillion for the first 43 presidents – #44 added over $6 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $16 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $50,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.

          • hennorama

            OPC I feel your pain, seriously, I do. I’m not a fan of the size of the Federal debt by any means.

            Last week I asked “OPC (et al) – have you done any in-depth analysis of the Federal budget changes since 2007 (or 2008)? What I mean is – what types of spending has changed, by how much, is it discretionary or non-discretionary, is it temporary (i.e. – related to the Great Recession or other one-time event), is it due to demographic changes, etc.?”

            You probably didn’t see it, since it was not a direct reply to your posts (#%@&^*! DISQUS!). I am interested in your answer (or anyone’s for that matter), though.

            Here’s a link to my post:http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/12/21/week-in-the-news-226#comment-746345053

          • OnPointComments

            I think the debt and deficit is a problem from which we might not recover if it continues on the current trajectory.  The government pays the salaries of the GAO to produce a report that enumerates opportunities to save money and the report is ignored.  Senator Coburn produces his annual wastebook report and it is ignored.  Some rail against the Citizens United decision and the money private entitites spend on elections, but the amount pales in comparison to the tax dollars that politicians spend to assure their own reelection.  My guess is that we have 47 job training programs, and 82 teacher improvement programs spread across 10 separate agencies, among many other duplicate programs, because each has its own politician and constituency, and no politician is willing to cede the program that is a source of his/her power.  It is stupefying that regardless how wasteful, silly or inane an identified expenditure is, the agency’s budget is never reduced, and the person who authorized the expenditure suffers no consequence.
             
            When President Bush bailed out the banks, and President Obama signed the stimulus bill, did you think it was a permanent increase in the budget, forever and ever?  I didn’t; I thought it was a one time expenditure, yet that increase in spending became permanent.  I bet when this awful war in Afghanistan ends, the country won’t experience any decrease in spending; I’ve heard politicians say as much many times, along the lines of “and here’s what we’ll spend that money on when the war is over.”  Purely on a philosophical basis, I probably wouldn’t favor a balanced budget amendment, but I think it’s clear that the Congress will spend irresponsibly without some type of limit.
             
            Next time I promise I’ll embrace brevity.  :)

          • hennorama

            OPC TY for your reply. Waste, inefficiency and duplicated efforts are never good, but they will never be completely eliminated. If that happened, politicians would need a new standard line to replace “I’ll fight all the waste, fraud and abuse in ________ (fill in the blank).”

            Government systems are always behind the curve, since great new ideas need to first be studied, dissected, written into law, appropriations made, rules written, etc. The process makes for slow change. Witness the laughable efforts to “modernize” information systems everywhere but at the Dept. of Homeland Security.

            C-Span recently aired a show on Federal Government Modernization. Several panelists discussed the issue of legacy systems, and the difficulty in consolidating systems due to the continued funding of those that are long out of date.

            “The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosted a forum on the E-Government Act, intended to improve government productivity, services, and public access through use of information technology systems and the Web. Panelists in the first session talked about successes and challenges of the act ten years after its passage. Participants in the second discussion focused on upcoming decade and ways the government might continue to modernize.”

            http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/EGo

            Now as to your question – I expected that Federal Spending was definitely going to increase for an extended period of time give that the Great Recession was a “balance sheet recession.” It was clear from the outset that recovery would be both gradual and long in duration. I’ve called this the BBQ Recovery – low and slow.

            Comparing Federal Spending in 2007 to 2011 levels, a bit more than half of the increase is in Pensions and Health Care. Most of this is demographic, but part of the increase is due to older Americans deciding to take Social Security early due to an inability to find productive work. Defense is up about $200 Billion, as is Welfare spending. The increase to Welfare spending was almost entirely due to the Great Recession.

            But remember that recent outcomes have been vastly skewed by the Great Recession and its aftermath. Federal Revenues dropped to about 15% of GDP, and Spending jumped to about 25%. Neither will change significantly until the economy improves. Fortunately, the recent fiscal conundrum deal won’t extensively damage the recovery. But a default due to a failure to increase the debt ceiling will, and in unpredictable ways.

  • rap12

    Dear White House:

    Tax & Savings Tip
    Legalize Marijuana.  Control It.  Raise Revenue.  Cut Spending
    So many, (most), US Citizens TOKE. 

    TAX MARIJUANA
    Create much needed revenue by taxing &
    regulating (without polluting) Marijuana and end another era of thugs who get rich off of their underground UNTAXED & sometimes dangerous enterprises…similar to the fall of Al CAPONE at the end of prohibition.

    SAVINGS
    End the war on Marijuana:
    End the never ending inflating bill we tax payers pay for law enforcement to fight this endless ridiculous war.

    End the costs taxpayers pay to house responsible peaceful “tokers” in jail.

    Our friends South of the Border would really appreciate this as well and would perhaps lead to a more wholesome relationship.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “Deal or No Deal? Yes or No.”

    Maybe?

    Good job hosting Mr. Oakes, sorry your efforts had to be wasted on this Do-Nothing Discussion. May the New Year Bring more productive topics to us all.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Just out of curiosity, are Profitable and Charitable mutually exclusive in your view?

    *Wrong place Disqus

  • DrewInGeorgia
  • Mattyster

    The problem is not that no one will compromise.  The problem is that some ‘conservative’ Republicans in Congress just plain don’t believe in the federal government and want to starve it to death.  There is no negotiating with these people because they don’t care if the government fails – they want to prove that it’s already a failure. The media needs to stop portraying this as ‘neither side is willing to compromise’.  

    • William

       Starve to death…really? what are the massive spending cuts proposed by anyone?….

      • OnPointComments

        You have to think of “starving” using government-speak.  If the government adds an extra trillion dollars to spending to year one, but doesn’t add the extra trillion to year two, the government is being austere.  Of course that’s not the case here — the government added a trillion dollars to spending in FY2009 to deal with the financial crisis, spent it again in each year from FY2010-2013, and has kept that extra trillion dollars in each year’s budgeted spending for every future year.  Now when they talk about cutting one trillion dollars from 10 years of spending that totals $40 trillion, they say the government is austere.

        • Mike_Card

          That is not an answer to William’s question, nor does your response make sense.

        • jefe68

          What is this?

      • sickofthechit

        The giveaway that was the TEMPORARY Bush Tax Cuts that cost us $trillions from the treasury, yet didn’t create the jobs that were claimed.  The Surplus/Deficit equation is simple and is not only composed of spending cuts or tax cuts.  It also includes revenue.  What massive spending cuts?  Over a trillion dollars since President Obama came to office.  I challenge you to stop watching/listening/reading FOX (Faux) news type shows instead spend at least as much time watching/listening/reading what you consider to be liberal or left wing programming.  It just might expand your conciousness. charles

        • Gregg Smith

          Only a liberal would call revenue growing by over a half a trillion dollars over four years a “cost”. It laughably goes like this: If the rates had stayed the same there would have been all that revenue piling up and it’s still sitting there. The bursting tech bubble wouldn’t have had an effect, neither would have 9/11. The economy doesn’t matter only rates matter.

    • StilllHere

      The government’s failures are clear everyday, yet Democrats wanted to provide more and more to prolong and enlarge these failures.  They won’t even discuss putting the governments spending growth on a diet, much less actual spending reductions.

      • Mattyster

         Right…, it’s those darn Democrats who started 2 unfunded wars, implemented a Medicare drug plan that forbids negotiating drug prices, and insisted on military spending that even the military doesn’t want. 
        Myth: Democrats are big spenders and Republicans are fiscally responsible. 
        Reality: Republicans love to spend, they just don’t want to pay for it.  Then they blame the poor and the elderly for our national debt.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          ….and simultaneously cut taxes, turning a surplus into a deficit. Then above all, their deregulation of wall st put the deficit on steroids with a “systemic banking crisis” and economic crash.

          Anyone with common sense who honestly cared about the deficit would simply propose undoing what turned surplus into deficit: cut the military budget, raise taxes, let medicare negotiate drug prices, re-regulate the financial con men.

          However the right doesn’t care about the deficit, they care about class warfare. The idea is to use the deficit as a scare tactic to argue for cuts in SS and Medicare.

          • pete18

             I know Tom won’t respond to this because he has a hard time with facts, but the Bush tax cuts did not turn the surplus into deficit:

            “These Bush tax cuts did not explode the deficit, as Obama and his
            echo chamber have alleged.  By 2007, the deficit was down to $160
            billion, less than 15% of Obama’s deficits today.  Total
            federal revenues soared from $793.7 billion in 2003, when the last of
            the Bush tax cuts were enacted, to $1.16 trillion in 2007, a 47% increase.
             Capital gains revenues had doubled by 2005, despite the 25% capital
            gains rate cut adopted in 2003.  Federal revenues rose to 18.5% of GDP
            by 2007, above the long term, postwar, historical average over the prior
            60 years.  CBO was projecting surpluses to return indefinitely in 2012 through the end of its projection period in 2018.

            Bush did increase federal spending as a percent of GDP by
            one-seventh, erasing the federal spending cuts enacted by the Republican
            Congressional majorities in the 1990s.  But even with that, deficits
            during the Bush years averaged just 2% of GDP, one-third less than the
            average over the prior 50 years.  President Obama’s deficits have
            averaged 5 times as much, at 9.1% of GDP.”
            http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/12/06/why-america-is-going-to-miss-the-bush-tax-cuts/

            And it was Bill Clinton, a democrat, not George Bush, who pushed for and signed into law deregulation on Wall St: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/05/to-save-obama-clinton-ignores-his-own-deregulation-moves/

            OK, everyone get out your picnic blankets and wait for the crickets.

          • Gregg Smith

            That’s way too much truth for this blog.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Bingo. 

  • hennorama

    Let’s remember – when the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 was enacted in early August of 2011, the political dynamic was much different than it is today.

    In mid-2011, the TEA partiers had first come into the Republican caucus in the House, and Pres. Obama’s overall approval rating (per Gallup’s weekly poll) had fallen to just over 40%, and to below 30% on the economy.  House Republicans thought the deficit, debt, and the economy would be winning issues for the 2012 elections, and thought they were boxing Pres. Obama in through the BCA.  They figured they’d win the Presidency and more seats in both houses of Congress.

    This didn’t exactly work out the way Republicans had imagined.  Pres. Obama was re-elected, and Republicans losts seats in both the House and Senate.  They are being dragged into any fiscal conundrum deal kicking and screaming.  But they will make a deal.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    • DrewInGeorgia

      lol

  • Bruce94

    ‘Twas the night before Cliffmas, when all thro’ the House
    (of Representatives)

    Not a creature was stirring, not even Speaker Boehner nor

    Majority leader Cantor, the other gutless mouse.

    Low hanging fruit in the form of deficit reduction was there,

    But GOP obstructionists simply didn’t care…

  • twenty_niner

    My comment on 11/7, the day after the election has proved correct; there will be no vote tonight, over the cliff we go:

    “The GPS is now set; next stop, about 50ft past the fiscal cliff, and a long way down.”First-off, if this is a cliff, what is 120% going on 200% debt-to-GDP? This is more like a fiscal pot hole compare to what’s coming. In the end, I side with Howard Dean on this one, which is not a frequent occurrence. The cliff is the only way we’ll ever get meaningful defense-spending cuts. And further, the American people have voted for expansive central government with both Bush and Obama; let’s GD pay for it!

  • TomK_in_Boston

    The media say there s a deal in the senate, with Bush tax cuts expiring over $400K and other agreements. I wonder how that can pass the house, since they just refused to let the cuts expire over $1 million.

    Meanwhile, big day for the S&P and futures are way up. I’d been hoping to do some “cliff” bargain hunting. Looks like there’s no sale, tho this could turn in a heartbeat. At least I’m not short.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Deal or No Deal? SMACK! No Deal.

      Funny co-inky-dink that 166 point bounce just happened to bump em’ back over 13K on the final Trading Day of The Year. If nothing else at least I can’t say Wall Street has no entertainment value.

    • JGC

      It would be very interesting to see how the “blind” trusts of Congressional folks are playing this one.

  • Mike_Card

    Wait a minute–what??  Babington just said that Mourdock didn’t get re-elected for “other items?”  Like, justifying RAPE??  How do you let something like get a pass?????

  • Mike_Card

    I’ll say it right now.  Oakes is incompetent, and I have no idea how he keeps his job at WBUR.

  • Gregg Smith

    I came away from Obama’s presser convinced he wants the cliff. No one is that arrogant and spiteful. He was baiting Republicans to walk. It’s what he wants. Tax hikes for every American is a liberal dream.

    • OnPointComments

      A politician Obama is, a statesman he is not.

  • JGC

    Well, Dick Clark (R.I.P.), I guess I won’t be watching New Year’s Rocking Eve tonight, anyway; it will be Fiscal Cliff Countdown. Cheers, everyone!

  • hennorama

    Cliff, schmiff.  We’ve “gone over” now but no one’s fallen.  No broken bones.  Not even a scratch, really.

    Everything has pretty much gone according to prediction – the income level for increased tax rates is higher than the initial proposal from the President, and lower than Boehner’s abortive Plan B (pun intended).  We’ll see what finally gets passed, but the actual hard work to reform the tax code and reduce the deficit still lies ahead.  This isn’t even “kicking the can” – it just barely nudges the can forward.

  • hennorama

    To those in Santiago – ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!  And a hearty (about two hours early) Hippo Nude Deer Two Ewes! to those on the East Coast, and (in less than an hour) in Puerto Rico.

  • JGC

    The agreement is shaping up.  Rumor is, the estate tax will have a $10-million exemption per couple (does that include same sex couple?) with additional inheritance taxes at 40%.

    Phew, I was getting really worried there…

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Happy New FISCALvUS! Oh, wait…what? Not yet?

  • ExcellentNews

    Well, Washington or Main Street may not be in a party mood, but at corporate boardrooms, executive yachts and banker retreats around the world, the party is like ’99!!!! After all, the last 4 years were even more profitable for the oligarchs than the previous 8 – all at the same 10% “carried interest” tax rate. And now, the remainder of the middle class will pay for the continued welfare of their corporate patrons. Truly, life could not be better at the top!!!

  • ExcellentNews

    Yep – the peons work harder for less, and their bosses and owners work less for more. Isn’t life wonderful???

ONPOINT
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Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

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