On Friday, President Barack Obama sat down with congressional leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, to discuss avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” automatic tax hikes that would come from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and spending cuts that were signed into law last year as part of the debt ceiling deal.
All sides left the table believing that a deal was possible, though it doesn’t seem like they’re going to have time to get something comprehensive done by the end of the year:
In a signal to financial markets that have fallen precipitously since Obama’s election last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed confidence they would reach a deal.
The four all appeared outside the White House after the meeting as a group to telegraph their seriousness and unity to the markets and the public.
“We all know something has to be done … we feel very comfortable with each other and this isn’t something we’re going to wait until the last day of December to get it done,” Reid (D-Nev.) said. “We have a plan. We’re going to move forward on it.”
Boehner said the parties had developed the “cornerstones of being able to work something out.”
Democrats, meanwhile, expressed a willingness to consider spending cuts despite heavy lobbying from union and senior groups, who argue Medicare and Social Security should not be touched.
Written by Marian Tupy, a policy analyst, Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
It has been said of the neo-cons that they are often wrong but never in doubt. Well, Bill Kristol was at it again, predicting the future with his usual sense of supreme confidence. According to the neo-conservative editor of the Weekly Standard, “It won’t kill the country if Republicans raise taxes a little bit on millionaires… .The Republican Party is gonna fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic, and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile to Republicans.”
The left has jumped on Kristol’s words. As Andrew Rosenthal wrote in the New York Times, “When even Bill Kristol, the severely conservative Weekly Standard editor, says Republicans should agree to raise taxes on the richest Americans, you have to wonder if the G.O.P. has thought through its post-election, hold-the-line strategy.”
To start with, Kristol misunderstands the opponents of the tax increases on the rich, whose main goal is not to ensure that the rich get to keep more of their money. Their main goal is to prevent the federal government from obtaining a new source of revenue. Why might that be?
Following Rep. Tom Price’s disappointing defeat in the race for chair of the House Republican Conference, an early indicator of how the GOP plans to work in the next Congress, conservatives looking to keep some measure of independence lost another leadership battle yesterday. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) selected Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who is viewed as an ally to Speaker John Boehner, over Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) to led the group of House conservatives:
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is the new face of the conservative movement in the House of Representatives. At least according to the Republican Study Committee, a caucus representing the right wing of the party.
The RSC elected Scalise to be their new chairman Thursday, taking over from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Scalise beat Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia for the position, despite the fact that the committee’s founders and past chairmen came out in support of Graves.
“From the beginning I felt like this ought to be a member-driven organization and the members should decide who’s the next chairman,” Scalise told the Alley.
Scalise said that Graves ran a great campaign for the position and that the major differences between the two of them was not in policy but in leadership style.
“The American people chose the Republican House to serve as the only line of defense against Barack Obama’s liberal agenda, and the RSC must stand tall as the conservative rudder, steering the House towards more conservative solutions as we work to get our country back on the right track,” he said in a statement.
As you may have heard, House Republicans met yesterday to elect leadership for the next Congress. While mostly mundane, such as the re-election of John Boehner for House Speaker, there was an interesting race between Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers for chair of the House Republican Conference, an important position that helps communicate the party’s message.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Boehner had offered Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) a deal that would have provided him an appointed leadership position in exchange for him dropping out of the race and pledging loyalty to GOP leadership in the House. Price, one of the more conservative members in the caucus, declined the offer.
Unfortunately, whatever hope conservatives had for a seat in House leadership was ended yesterday as Rogers defeated Price, ensuring an echo-chamber for Boehner in leadership and a sign that House Republicans are willing to deal with Obama.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who chairs the House Budget Committee and is a popular figure in the conservative movement, reiterated his support for Price in a letter to colleagues. Now, some may dismiss the significance, but Ryan’s involvement made this more than a leadership race between two members, but also against two high-profile Republicans with differing views on how to approach negotiation on the “fiscal cliff” with the White House.
During a press conference yesterday afternoon, President Barack Obama laid out some of his terms on the so-called “fiscal cliff,” making it known that he wouldn’t accept a deal with House Republicans that didn’t raise tax rates on higher-income earners. Before the press conference even took place, the White House had rejected House Speaker John Boehner’s initial offer and The Hill noted that Obama would come to the table asking Congress for “$1.6 in new revenues by targeting the wealthy and corporations.”
Boehner, who has said that the talks with the White House are “going to take awhile,” has already said that House Republicans aren’t willing to raise tax rates, which could bring the talks to an impass. During the press conference, Obama said, “I’m open to compromise and I’m open to new ideas.” But, as noted, Obama has already turned away one offer for increased revenues and isn’t likely to budge much from his position.
James Pethokoukis noted that Obama’s tax plan, which supposedly brings a “balanced approach” to the deficit, isn’t balanced (emphasis mine):
[O]nce you begin to dig into the numbers, the plan doesn’t look balanced at all. As the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget noted back then:
Last week, I mentioned that Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) was running for chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group that guides conservative policy in the House. Graves has already received the support of the founders of RSC, but he picked up another endorsement yesterday from FreedomWorks, which has help guide activists in the freedom movement over the last few years:
FreedomWorks announced its commitment today to endorse Tom Graves for the position of Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman. The RSC serves as a fiscally conservative check on Republican leadership, and gives principled men and women of Congress without years of seniority the opportunity to affect real change.
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe commented, “Tom Graves is currently one of the best votes in Congress, scoring 100% on our 2011 legislative scorecard. While others abandoned the ideas of fiscal responsibility and limited-government, Graves took a stand and voted against the Budget Control Act and the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. We need a strong voice to ensure that good economic policy triumphs over politics as usual in Congress, and Tom Graves is the man for the job.”
Graves was also a recipient of the FreedomWorks Legislative Entrepreneur Award during his service in the Georgia State House, where he created a fiscally conservative caucus.
Graves has competition in the race from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who is closely aligned with House Speaker John Boehner, who is increasingly trying to make sure House Republicans are on board with him through the “fiscal cliff” debate.
Earlier today, I mentioned that Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) had rejected a deal from House Speaker John Boehner that would have given him an appointed leadership position if he withdrew from the race for House Republican Conference chair and promised not to oppose GOP leadership. Boehner’s preferred candidate is apparently Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) and he’s trying to avoid a potentially divisive fight.
Well, that got a lot more interesting today when Paul Ryan (R-WI), who served as Mitt Romney’s running mate this year and is popular with conservatives, reiterated his support for Price in a letter to colleagues:
In the Dear Colleague obtained by Roll Call, Ryan cites his experience putting together a House Republican budget as proof that Price is “uniquely qualified” to become conference chairman. Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, on which Price sits.
Price is running against Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. She has touted the endorsements of seven committee chairmen.
Ryan, however, one of the most high-profile figures in the Republican Party, might have the credibility to sway his colleagues into supporting Price. Although he pledged his support to Price this past summer, the duties of running on the presidential ticket trumped congressional politics, and he had not been active in supporting the candidate.
Elections for House Republican leadership are heating up, and it has the potential for embarrassment for Speaker John Boehner. Yesterday, BuzzFeed reported that Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) turned down an offer from Boehner for him to back out of his bid for chairman of the House Republican Conference, a nod to his preferred pick, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA):
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Boehner approached the Georgia Republican with the offer hoping to circumvent an ugly fight between Price and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers over chairmanship of the House Republican Conference.
McMorris Rodgers, a key surrogate for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, is favored by leadership. But Price has the backing of conservatives both within the conference and the broader movement, and his bid has threatened to turn the race ugly.
According to these sources, Boehner offered to make Price chairman of the Elected Leadership Council, the group of GOP leaders that runs the party in the House. The chairmanship carries prestige, but is not elected and is largely ceremonial since Boehner is in charge of the party.
But Boehner’s proposal came with a catch — Price would have to swear loyalty to leadership and promise not to break with them over the next two years.
Price, a doctor and former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has been fairly consistent in pushing fiscally conservative principles in the House. He was one of the fiercest opponents of ObamaCare and has been known to vote against leadership from time to time.
While the fight over the “fiscal cliff” is getting the attention of the media right now, the Treasury Department wants another increase in the debt ceiling and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is prepared to give it to them, apparently with no questions asked:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Wednesday that if the $16.394 trillion current legal limit on the federal government’s debt must be raised in the next few months by another $2.4 trillion, “We’ll raise it.”
That would set the debt limit at $18.794 trillion.
During a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked: “Senator Reid, the Treasury Department said last week that we will hit the debt ceiling again near the end of the year. Are you prepared—will you support—”
“I think the debt ceiling will come after the first of the year,” Reid said. “But please everyone accept this: They tried it before—they, the Republicans.”
“They tried it before – ‘We’re going to shut down the government, and we’re not going to raise the debt ceiling,’” he said. “If they want to go through that again, fine.”
“But we’re not going to be held subject to something that was done as a matter of fact in all previous administrations,” Reid said.
CNSNews.com then asked, “But will you support raising it by another $2.4 trillion?”
“If it has to be raised, we’ll raise it,” he said.