As more details emerge about the Senate´s hastily-passed deal to avert the "fiscal cliff", the scale of the GOP´s capitulation grows more troubling. This morning, it looked as if the Senate GOP had overwhelmingly voted for a $620 Billion tax increase in exchange for almost no real spending cuts. That´s bad enough, but an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office reveals that the deal actually contains $330 Billion in new spending over the next 10 years. More than half of the new tax revenue won´t go to plugging the deficit, but increasing the size of government.
The "fiscal cliff" deal reached by the Senate and the White House on New Year´s Eve, and passed in legislative form by the Senate early New Year´s Day, includes many giveaways to special interests--including an extension of a perk enjoyed by "motorsports entertainment complexes" otherwise known as the "NASCAR tax credit." The provision, under section 168(i)(15) of the federal tax code, allows speedways to write off their costs over seven years. Typically, such expensing occurs over a much longer period of time, from 15 to 39 years. The cost of the NASCAR tax credit to taxpayers has been estimated
A new study has surprisingly shown up that Hispanic women have the steepest declining birthrates of any group in the United States. Despite enjoying the highest fertility rates in the country, both immigrant and native-born Latinas are choosing to have smaller families--leaving them with bithrates smaller than non-Hispanic Whites, black and Asians.[Snip] According to the recent Pew Research Center report there were 63 births per 1,000 women in ages 15 to 44 while in 1957 there were 122.7 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The decline in birthrates was seen to be heaviest among Mexican-American women
Barack Obama did something bizarre on New Year’s Eve. While Republican and Democratic Senate leaders were locked in delicate negotiations to prevent America going over the fiscal cliff, the President held a press conference at the White House.[Snip] It was a performance aimed not at healing his country’s wounds but whipping up his party’s base. In a moment of shameless irony from the Satirist-in-Chief, Obama concluded by saying that America’s rulers “need us all to stay focused on [the people]. Not on politics.” A cynic might retort, “Politician, heal thyself.” The root cause of America’s brush
Chicago ended the year with 506 homicides, according to an unofficial tally released today, making 2012 the first year the city has had more than 500 homicides in four years, and marking an increase of more than 16 percent over last year’s total. Crime experts caution not to read too much into year-to-year increases in homicides, especially since 2011’s and 2010’s 435 homicides were the lowest the city had seen in more than 40 years. But Chicago’s tally in 2012 was the highest since 2008 and the second highest since 2003.
The attorney who said he would sue the state of Connecticut for $100 million after the Newtown school shooting is withdrawing his potential lawsuit — at least for now. Irving Pinsky, who said Saturday he was filing the suit as a way to improve school safety, told the Connecticut Post that he’s received new information about security at Sandy Hook Elementary School and wants to review it. Pinsky, who’s representing the parents of a 6-year-old survivor of the Dec. 14 massacre, isn’t against re-submitting his claim to the state later. “We haven´t decided
Six women and a man working for a Pakistani health and education charity involved in vaccinations have been shot dead on their way home from a community centre. Police said they were investigating whether there was any link to the Taliban or other Islamist militants, who have been blamed for past attacks on charity workers and on health education projects in particular. The attack took place about 65 kilometres northwest of the capital in the Swabi district. The victims were all Pakistanis and worked at a local centre called Ujalla, which runs a school and a health clinic.
In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi used an old Jedi mind trick on Stormtroopers to deflect them from their real quarry: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” It worked. It looks as if another mind trick, well known in the Congress — delay and deflection — will now work to make Americans forget one of the biggest scandals of our time: the housing collapse that triggered the 2008 financial meltdown we are still suffering from. We shouldn’t just gaze over the fiscal cliff everyone else is scrutinizing; we should also examine the droids who helped set in motion
Folks who are just slightly overweight but have resolved to lose weight in the new year may give their plans second thoughts in the wake of a controversial new federal analysis. People who are overweight by up to 30 or so have a slightly lower risk of early death than those at a normal weight, the government analysis finds. The review of 97 studies showed that people who are extremely obese -- roughly 60 or more pounds over a normal weight -- have a greater risk of dying early
While conservatives roundly criticize Senate Republicans for cutting a deal with Vice President Joe Biden to avert the fiscal cliff, there are several aspects of the deal that make it a win for Republicans – if they cling to their promises this time. First off, President Obama has now admitted that he got the tax increases he wanted. While his crowd proclaims that Republicans raised taxes for the first time in history, they didn’t – taxes were slated to rise anyway, and they voted to lower taxes that were in place after the fiscal cliff hit
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has publicly voiced his opposition to the Senate "fiscal cliff" deal that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden cut late on New Year’s eve, and which passed early today by an 89-8 vote. “I do not support the bill,” Cantor told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. CNN reports that “House Speaker John Boehner and House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy both declined to answer questions as they emerged from the meeting.” Given multiple opportunities, House Speaker John Boehner spokesman Michael Steel would not answer
KENT, WA - Three coyotes attacked a Kent man Friday, leaving him bruised and bleeding and his dog frightened. Now, Faron Scarberry, who lives next door to a school, wants to get the word out about the frightening attack before the wild animals strike again. "They were coming around the bush and I guess they were going after my puggle." Scarberry said. Scarberry was walking his dog in Kent near his home when the dogs approached. "One of them lunged up towards me and I kind of pushed it away with my hand and its front claws scratched
Welcome to the bottom of the fiscal cliff. With the failure of Congress and the White House to meet their self-imposed deadline, the nation fell over the cliff just as the ball fell in Times Square. And yet, despite all of the dire warnings, no one looks particularly squished. That´s because Washington doesn´t operate according to Earth logic. It´s like when Wile E. Coyote steps off a falling boulder at just the right moment to be able to walk away from the impact unscathed. Or perhaps he lands on a trampoline. Of course, in such situations he´s usually then
The House of Representatives should make massive changes to the so-called fiscal cliff deal that passed the Senate 89–8 at 1:39 a.m. today. That amended measure then can proceed to a conference committee for further improvement before advancing to final passage in both houses and President Obama’s signature, if he favors the legislation. These additional steps are required for three key reasons: First, laws should be passed through regular order, rather than Soviet-style backroom discussions and near-unanimous approval by rubber-stamp legislatures. The lawmaking gyrations of the last few weeks have been unseemly and an international embarrassment unworthy
There are lots of ways of calculating the ratio between cuts and raising taxes in the fiscal-cliff deal — but the computations all are nightmarish — especially in comparison with the seemingly long-ago euphoria among the tea-party-driven Republicans following the landslide 2010 midterm elections in the House. One thing, however, is clear: Obama and his supporters will not view Republican concessions as magnanimous but rather as a green light for further tax hikes in 2013, as the president himself pontificated in his pre-victory-lap press conference. For Obama and his base, deficits are always a symptom of too little taxation
Donald Kaul suffered a heart attack back in July and discontinued writing his weekly column for the opinion website OtherWords.org. Depending upon how you count, that was Kaul’s second or third retirement. Today, Kaul announces that he’s ba-a-a-ck. This time, he’s only promising to write when events move him and not to be pinned down by a weekly column.
For six years she has been shocking audiences across America as they prepare to ring in the new year. But this year, Kathy Griffin really surpassed herself during CNN´s live New Year´s Eve broadcast when she simulated oral sex on co-host Anderson Cooper as well as making jokes about his ´sack´.Even when Cooper had to take a minute from the upbeat, lighthearted show for some serious news on the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington, Griffin told him it should be called ´the fisting cliff´.Viewers continued to be shocked and appalled
A small neglected Long Island airport, once used as a U.S. Naval base, is the new home of thousands of derelict cars damaged in Superstorm Sandy. About 15,000 storm-ravaged vehicles are parked bumper-to-bumper on runways and taxiways at the Calverton Executive Airport, which years ago was the site of a Grumman aircraft-manufacturing plant where the military assembled F-14 and tested lunar roving vehicles. Insurance Auto Auctions Corp. has agreed to pay the town of Riverhead, which owns the airport, $3,200 per month for every acre taken up by the cars.
If you´re feeling the pinch in our age of austerity, you might want to hark back to life in the last years of the Soviet Union. Shop shelves were often bare, long lines for food were a regular sight and some children just didn´t have that youthful glint in their eyes you might expect. As was the essence of communism, the USSR´s economic system was highly centralised and based on inflexible five-year plans rather than market forces. Years of military expansion also hindered growth.[Snip]The unrest grew to such an extent that the USSR finally collapsed on Boxing Day 1991, shortly
Buried in the fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate early Tuesday morning is a provision to halt a scheduled salary increase for members of Congress themselves. The bill contains a one-sentence provision that would block a scheduled cost-of-living adjustment for representatives and senators that is due to take place when the continuing resolution under which the federal government is currently operating expires on March 27. Congressional pay has not been increased since 2009, in part because the vote is so unpopular with the public given the recent recession, the push for deficit reduction and the high disapproval ratings
My resolution this year is to be much more diplomatic and emollient and generally more sympathetic to the other point of view. Naah. Just kidding. But what I did think would be a good idea at the start of yet another year´s blogging is to remind ourselves where we´re at and why it is that I do the things I do, write the things I write, and say them in the uncompromising, no-prisoners-taken way I say them. You might think it was because of people like this man--Richard Parncutt, Professor of Systematic Musicology at the University of Graz in Austria
The Senate Homeland Security Committee report on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed four people, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, makes for painful reading. The committee´s findings, following a review of thousands of documents, shed new light on the utter confusion that prevailed at the highest levels of the administration in the days following the attack. Although U.S. intelligence almost immediately recognized the incident as a premeditated terrorist attack, administration officials, from President Obama on down, hedged and pretzled their comments to a fare-thee-well.
What was McConnell thinking? The fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate contains $1 in spending cuts for every $41 in tax hikes. Brietbart: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion-a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts. When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending cuts-cuts that never ultimately came-they did so at ratios of 1:3 and 1:2.
While Venezuela’s announcement that President Hugo Chávez’s bout with cancer has taken a turn for the worse is making big headlines, there is another development in the Venezuelan drama that has gone almost unnoticed: high-level U.S.-Venezuelan talks preparing for a post-Chávez future may have already started. Well-placed U.S. officials tell me that Roberta S. Jacobson, the top U.S. State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs, held a long telephone conversation with Venezuela’s Vice President and Chávez-designated heir Nicolas Maduro on Nov. 21, where the two discussed, among other things, the possibility of restoring ambassadors.
After about an hour of studying last night’s budget deal, I find it right on the borderline between (A) awful-tasting medicine we still need to take for our health and (B) a cure that is worse than the disease. But careful, careful attention pushes the calculation every-so-slightly toward the former. This isn’t even a 51-49 proposition, but only a 50.1-49.9 proposition. Still, here’s why the option of a “yes” vote for House Republicans — notwithstanding my warnings yesterday that “no deal” is better than a bad deal — is not an unacceptable decision. First, obviously
If the tax debate could be simplified to a liberal desire to make sure the tax burden is borne by those who can most easily afford it and a conservative desire to keep taxes as low as possible on as many people as possible, the fiscal-cliff bargain that was struck between Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden over the last 48 hours — a bargain that could still fail to pass the House, but probably won’t — seems to offer something credible to both sides. One the one hand, it includes a real Democratic concession, which substitutes