With the battle heating up over the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of the year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) made his position clear in a post over at RedState:
Despite the seriousness of this debt crisis, an absurd pattern has clearly developed in Washington. Last year, when they still controlled the House, Senate and White House, the Democrats failed to pass a budget at all. In the first two months of this year, Senate Democrat leaders have spent invaluable time not on tackling the debt but on re-authorizing the F.A.A. and reforming the patent system. Their only attempt at addressing our debt was a plan to cut $4.7 billion in spending, which only equals what our government borrows approximately every 30 hours alone.
Democrats’ unwillingness to engage on this issue is leading us closer to a catastrophic debt spiral that will irreversibly damage our government, our economy and ultimately our country.
The absurdity of what we have witnessed on the Senate floor is only eclipsed by the lack of leadership demonstrated by the White House, and a President who has been absent from this debate and even sent his lead negotiator on a five-day foreign trip.
All this has led to a very predictable outcome: Washington politicians of both parties scrambling to put together two and three week plans to keep funding the government, while not fundamentally changing the behavior that has gotten us into this mess to begin with.
Last week, House Republicans presented $32 billion in spending cuts - far short of the $100 billion they promised in the “Pledge to America.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was dismissive of the cuts, noting that they are “not going to touch the problem.”
Today, Sen. Paul is talking up his own proposed cuts - totaling $500 billion - in an editorial at the Wall Street Journal:
According to the Congressional Budget Office, this will be the third consecutive year in which the federal government is running a deficit near or greater than $1 trillion. The solution to the government’s fiscal crisis must begin by cutting spending in all areas, particularly in those that can be better run at the state or local level. Last month I introduced legislation to do just that. And though it seems extreme to some—containing over $500 billion in spending cuts enacted over one year—it is a necessary first step toward ending our fiscal crisis.
My proposal would first roll back almost all federal spending to 2008 levels, then initiate reductions at various levels nearly across the board. Cuts to the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation would create over $42 billion in savings each, while cuts to the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development would save about $50 billion each. Removing education from the federal government’s jurisdiction would create almost $80 billion in savings alone. Add to that my proposed reductions in international aid, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and other federal agencies, and we arrive at over $500 billion.
With the vote to repeal ObamaCare supposed to take place today in the House, the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats are playing it down:
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the Republican effort to repeal the healthcare reform law is not serious and has no chance of passing.
House Republicans are expected to vote on a bill that would undo the law Wednesday, but Gibbs said that even they know that the legislation is not a winning bet.
“I would share the belief of many, including, I think, enunciated by those who are going to vote for repeal tomorrow, that this isn’t a serious legislative effort,” he said at his daily press briefing. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
Democrats have sought to downplay the importance of the vote as merely a symbolic effort by the GOP to appeal to their base.
I know that not many want to hear this, but it’s true that this is largely symbolic. As has been noted here several times, Republicans simply don’t have the numbers in the Senate since Democrats hold the majority and aren’t even going to bring repeal of ObamaCare to the floor; dares from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) not withstanding. Nevertheless, the administration is telling Republicans that they are open to changes to the law. Of course, they’ve said that before.
With the likelihood that repeal will won’t pass, Republicans are - as a I wrote on Monday - looking at other avenues to get rid of ObamaCare:
In light of the tragedy that took place in Tucson on Saturday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has postponed votes on legislation for the week, including an planned vote to repeal the health care reform legislation passed last March:
“In consultation with the Speaker and the Democratic Leadership, I have postponed all previously-scheduled legislation for the coming week to accommodate any action needed in light of yesterday’s tragic events in Arizona.
“The House will meet on Tuesday in pro forma session and there will be no votes or legislative business expected for that day.
“On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business and we will consider at least one resolution honoring Representative Giffords and honoring those who have fallen, including Federal Judge John Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, a member of Congresswoman Giffords’ congressional staff.
“At the request of bipartisan Members from the Arizona delegation and the Democratic Leadership, it is my intention to not have a recorded vote for the resolution. As Members know, however, we cannot assure that a recorded vote will not be requested. We will continue to be in close contact with the Democratic Leadership regarding those matters, along with the substance of the resolution, and will relay them as they become available.
“For now, it is my recommendation that all Members of the House who can, return to Washington to honor those who have fallen and to receive any necessary security briefings from the U.S. Capitol Police. I will defer on the latter issue to the Speaker and the Sergeant At Arms.”
By a vote of 81 to 19, the United States Senate has passed the tax deal between President Barack Obama and Republicans, which will extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, unemployment benefits and tax credits and enact a one-year payroll tax holiday.
The package will now move on to the House where it will likely be taken up tomorrow. It’s unclear whether or not House Democrats will be able to make the desired changes to the Death Tax; they deem a 35% take rate to be “too generous.”
The 19 “no” votes are:
- Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
- Tom Coburn (R-OK)
- Jim DeMint (R-SC)
- Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
- John Ensign (R-NV)
- Russ Feingold (D-WI)
- Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Kay Hagan (D-NC)
- Tom Harkin (D-IA)
- Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
- Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Carl Levin (D-MI)
- Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
- Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
- Mark Udall (D-CO)
- Tom Udall (D-NM)
- George Voinovich (R-OH)
- Ron Wyden (D-OR)
The proposal to extend the Bush-era tax rates will proceed.
The Senate reached the 60 votes needed to move forward with President Obama’s $858 billion plan to extend the current income tax rates Monday afternoon. It ultimately passed 83-15.
The measure would extend the Bush-era tax rates for two years in return for a 13-month extension of federal unemployment benefits. The package also will set the estate tax rate at 35 percent for assets beyond $5 million.
Five Republicans, nine Democrats and one independent have cast dissenting votes, including Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spent more than eight hours on the Senate floor last Friday railing against the deal. Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who joined Republicans Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio to vote against cloture, has said he opposes the measure because the unemployment benefits in the package are not paid for.
A slate of liberal Democrats who have staunchly supported a tax increase for the wealthy also supported the vote to move toward final passage. New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Michigan Sen. Deborah Stabenow and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, all fierce opponents of the Bush tax rates, cast a “yea” vote.
Despite tough talk by House Democrats on the $858 billion tax deal brokered between President Barack Obama and Republicans, it appears that it will come to the floor for a vote after all - though they are taking issue with the plans to knock the increase in the Death Tax from 35% instead of the planned increase to 55%:
The assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that President Obama’s tax compromise with Republicans will come to the House floor, despite House Democrats vowing to block the deal in a heated caucus meeting last week.
But Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that, even though the White House has said that the deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts isn’t open to negotiation, House Democrats are still going to make an effort to lop out at least one controversial provision: the estate tax.
He insisted that Senate Republicans, in striking the deal with the president, had not insisted on a provision of setting the tax of 35 percent on estates over $5 million as a “central portion of this deal.” Many Democrats are furious about the rate and want a 45 percent levy on $3.5 million estates and greater.
House Democrats rejected Barack Obama’s tax deal with Republicans yesterday in a caucus meeting where members express anger and resentment towards Obama, including one member that reportedly said, “f—k the president.”
In a closed-door caucus meeting on Thursday morning, House Democrats voted to reject the tax cut deal between the White House and Congressional Republicans “as currently written.”
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in a statement after the vote, said changes would need to be made before she would allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote.
“In the caucus today, House Democrats supported a resolution to reject the Senate Republican tax provisions as currently written,” Ms. Pelosi said. “We will continue discussions with the president and our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the days ahead to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote.”
Fifty-three members of the Democratic caucus are on record opposing the deal, though Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) claims the vote was “nearly unanimous.” Despite this, Senate Democrats may add the language to another bill in an attempt to “jam” Pelosi, according to CNN’s Ed Henry (via Hot Air).
As we’ve noted, President Barack Obama has made a deal with Republicans that would prevent a tax hike on all Americans, while at the same time getting extension of unemployment benefits and some other tax breaks his administration has pushed for (you can read the Obama Administration’s talking points here).
Obama defended his side of the deal yesterday in an afternoon press conference at the White House, though taking jabs at Republicans in the process:
With fellow Democrats balking, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts was necessary to help the economy and protect recession-weary Americans. He passionately defended his record against Democrats who complain he’s breaking campaign promises.
“Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I haven’t done or tried to do,” the president said.
He staunchly defended his decision to deal with the GOP in order to extend about-to-expire tax cuts for all Americans.
“There are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight,” the president said at a White House news conference a day after the compromise was announced. “And I understand the desire for a fight. I’m sympathetic to that.”
He promised a renewed fight during 2012 when the tax cuts would expire again, making the point that he still opposes the Republican position that high-income earners should get the extension, too. The agreement includes individuals making $200,000 or more a year and families making $250,000 or more.
As was expected, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have tentatively agreed to a deal that would prevent the largest tax hikes in American history (at least for two years), while also extending unemployment benefits and extending some other tax breaks:
President Barack Obama reached agreement Monday with Republican leaders in Congress on a broad tax package that would extend the Bush-era income tax cuts for two years, reduce worker payroll taxes for one year and give more favorable treatment to business investments.
Other elements of the deal include a temporary reinstatement of the estate tax at 35%—the level favored by most Republican lawmakers—as well as an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
“We have arrived at a framework for a bipartisan agreement,’’ Mr. Obama said on Monday night, capping weeks of negotiations with leaders in Congress.
While it looks like there is finally an agreement between Obama and Republicans, House Democrats may not go along with the deal:
The biggest problem — most seem to have forgotten — is in the House. Many seem to have forgotten that it is the House, which must originate tax bills, that last week voted by a 234-188 margin to limit the extension of the Bush tax cuts to families making less than $250,000 — Obama’s original campaign pledge.
Speaker-to-Be John Boehner denounced the vote as grandstanding “chicken crap,” but, being the legislative veteran that he is, he understood its procedural significance: It meant that whatever the Senate produces must come back to the House for another vote.