robertreich.org — The battle over the fiscal cliff was only a prelude to the coming battle over raising the debt ceiling – a battle that will likely continue through early March, when the Treasury runs out of tricks to avoid a default on the nation’s debt. The White House’s and Democrats’ single biggest failure in the cliff negotiations was not getting Republicans’ agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The last time the debt ceiling had to be raised, in 2011, Republicans demanded major cuts in programs for the poor as well as Medicare and Social Security. They got some concessions from the White House but didn’t get what they wanted – which led us to the fiscal cliff. So we’ve come full circle. On it goes, battle after battle in what seems an unending war that began with the election of Tea-Party Republicans in November, 2010. Don’t be fooled. This war was never over the federal budget deficit
religiondispatches.org — The New Year's Eve pas de deux between Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell produced a deal that people with lots of money will love. America's really rich won't be soaked at all under this deal; they will be stroked. If the loonier House Republicans weren't so totally obsessed with hacking domestic social spending right this minute, rather than waiting a couple of months, they would have snapped up the White House-Senate deal without all the pouting and posturing. This deal locks in low Bush-era marginal rates for everyone with incomes up to $399,999 (single) or $449,999 (couple). Think what an incredibly sweet deal this is for a group of people most working Americans, who make a median income of around $50,000, do not think of as "middle class" by any stretch of the imagination.
alternet.org — Throughout the months of November and December, a steady stream of corporate CEOs flowed in and out of the White House to discuss the impending fiscal cliff. Many of them, such as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, would then publicly come out and talk about how modest increases of tax rates on the wealthy were reasonable in order to deal with the deficit problem. What wasn’t mentioned is what these leaders wanted, which is what’s known as “tax extenders”, or roughly $205B of tax breaks for corporations. With such a banal name, and boring and difficult to read line items in the bill, few political operatives have bothered to pay attention to this part of the bill. But it is critical to understanding what is going on. So without further ado, here are eight corporate subsidies in the fiscal cliff bill that you haven’t heard of.
otherwords.org — Peace of mind. That’s what Medicare and Medicaid mean for nearly one in every three Americans. Almost 50 million Americans have paid into, and are beneficiaries of Medicare, our national health insurance program for seniors and people with disabilities. And almost 50 million Americans — the elderly, low-income adults and their children, and people with certain disabilities — have access to Medicaid. Six million Americans depend on both. But now these programs are under siege.
thedailybeast.com — Well, now we know what it takes for House Republicans to see a little bit of reason: It takes Fox News anchors warning them that if they don't pass the fiscal cliff bill, they'll be universally blamed. I would guess that there were some interesting phone calls being made yesterday afternoon to Speaker Boehner's office, calls we'll never know about, from various rich and influential people telling him to quit playing games and do the responsible thing. Even so, it's worth remembering that only 85 of 241 Republicans backed the cliff bill. In other words, if it had been entirely up to them, they'd have killed it. That will always be worth remembering.
When taxpayers pay more to the government than the economy receives in public spending, the effect is like paying banks more than they provide in new credit. The debt volume is reduced (increasing the reported savings rate). The resulting austerity is favorable to the financial sector but harmful to the rest of the economy.
prospect.org — The Republican Party is the problem. President Obama isn’t perfect—he’s a mediocre negotiator, with a penchant for giving away too much. But he’s dealing with a group of fanatical, rabidly anti-government conservatives, who—over the last two years—have threatened to shut down the government, crash the global economy, and induce a second recession in order to lower taxes on the rich and slash spending on a collection of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. There’s nothing Obama—or any Democrat—can do to mitigate the policy nihilism of right-wing conservatives in the House. And so we should expect more of it. Not the least because these same Republicans also won re-election in 2012, in districts that also voted to elect Mitt Romney president. They have no incentive to cooperate, and with the debt ceiling on the horizon, a new opportunity to force crisis.
progressive.org — In the debate over the so-called fiscal cliff, many in the media have missed something critical that both parties must understand: People of color, whose votes are increasingly crucial, believe in the positive role of government. They don’t want domestic social programs cut. According to the Census Bureau, people of color will be America’s new majority by the year 2043. African-Americans, Asians and Latinos already outnumber whites in several states and play a growing role in presidential swing states. Neither party can ignore them Neither party will win voters of color by preserving tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing Medicare and other vital programs.
consortiumnews.com — It is irresponsible to help create a mess and then to walk away and expect someone else to clean it up. That’s true whether the mess is a spill in the kitchen or something comparably sticky, smelly or hazardous in deliberations in Congress. Multiple press reportsobserve that this is what the political tantrum known as the Tea Party has been doing. We haven’t heard much from the Tea Partiers recently because they opted out of participation in the fiscal cliff drama as the rest of the country counted down the time remaining until the New Year’s, and budgetary, ball drops. In this latest phase in the tantrum, Tea Partiers unhappy that the political game has not gone entirely their way (with the outcome of the presidential election being, of course, their principal setback) have decided to take their own ball and bat and go home.
prospect.org — The behavior of political elites on the subject of deficits, debts, and the economic recovery requires some combination of Buñuel and his contemporary John Maynard Keynes to do it justice. With the economy stuck at about $1.5 trillion below its potential and at least 15 million people unable to find full-time jobs, the debate is fixated on the question of how to cut the deficit instead of how to restore jobs, wages, and output. Until President Obama changes the subject to the real issue of economic recovery, he will be mired in an enervating form of retrench warfare where budget cuts are inevitable. He needs to isolate Republicans on the issue of how to produce a recovery, just as he did on taxes. Here again, public opinion is on his side if he will lead. Cutting Social Security and Medicare are no more popular than raising taxes on the middle class.