WASHINGTON -- The "fiscal cliff" is a massive failure of presidential leadership. The tedious and technical negotiations are but a subplot in a larger drama. Government can no longer fulfill all the promises it has made to various constituencies. Some promises will be reduced or disavowed. Which ones? Why? Only the president can pose these questions in a way that starts a national conversation over the choices to be made, but doing so requires the president to tell people things they don´t want to hear. That´s his job: to help Americans face unavoidable, if unpleasant, realities.
The path to attainment of the common good and peace is “above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end,” Pope Benedict XVI has said. “True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions . . . Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.” (Snip) “Indeed how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life
House Republicans are none too pleased with the “fiscal cliff” legislation that passed the Senate. That’s not surprising. According to the congressional budget office, it adds $4 trillion to the deficit over a decade. There was talk all day that House Republicans might amend the Senate bill by adding spending cuts. But the Seante has made clear that it will not take up an amended bill, meaning that sending it one would take the country over the “cliff.” It appears that not enough House Republicans are prepared to go that route. It also seems unlikely
Here are some glass-half-full observations on last night’s McConnell-Biden fiscal deal from an inveterate optimist. Raising taxes on those who are already paying roughly double their fair share, while leaving everyone else’s taxes the same, is lousy public policy. But from the Republicans’ point of view, it may be good politics. For the last four years, the Obama administration has run up unprecedented deficits, adding more than $4 trillion to the national debt. How has President Obama justified such profligacy? He has been a broken record: his mantra is that we just need to increase taxes on the “wealthy,”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has come out against Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination as the next secretary of defense, due to the Nebraska senator’s past derogatory comments about a gay ambassador. “I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major Presidential appointment,” Frank said in a statement. Moreover, he argued, the “aggressively bigoted opposition” to the ambassador was not “an aberration” but part of a record of voting against gay rights. In 1998, Hagel opposed
The new year began not with a cannonball off the “fiscal cliff” but with an outbreak of conspiratorial cynicism. This time it’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose fall and concussion, followed by a blood clot between her brain and skull, has prompted an embarrassment of theories. The gist: That woman will do anything to avoid testifying about Benghazi. Several commentators on the right opined via Twitter and TV, those most deadly hosts for the parasites of rumor and innuendo, that Clinton was faking her concussion to duck out on her appearance
WASHINGTON -- Maneuvered into a political corner, House Republicans abandoned demands for changes in emergency legislation to prevent widespread tax increases and painful across-the-board spending cuts and cleared the way for a final, climactic New Year´s night vote. The decision capped a day of intense political calculations for conservatives who control the House. They had to weigh their desire to cut spending against the fear that the Senate would refuse to consider any changes they made in the "fiscal cliff" bill, sending it into limbo and saddling Republicans with the blame for a
The House will hold a straight vote on the "fiscal cliff" bill passed by the Senate overnight - a major step in finally averting several effects of the "cliff." If the bill passes the House, it moves on to President Obama for his signature, ending weeks of fighting about how to deal with the tax hikes and spending cuts that began hitting the country today. It wasn´t easy getting to this point today in the House. After meeting with the Republican conference and listening to members´ concerns, House Speaker John Boehner presented them with two options, a GOP leadership aide said:
Those who were wondering at the truculent tone exhibited by President Obama yesterday afternoon during remarks delivered at a White House event got their answer today. Negotiations between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had already produced a deal by the time the president spoke. That should have meant at least a temporary cessation of partisan warfare, but Obama was having none of it. As I wrote yesterday, though the deal was very much on his terms–including a tax increase on those making $400,000 or more a year and had nothing in it about the spending cuts
The way things are going in the Middle East and here at home, it’s hard to argue with him. The Muslim Brotherhood and its various offshoot are rising to power across the region. The best that can be said of the Obama administration is that it accidentally helped them take power in Cairo. One could also say that the administration is dishonest with the American people about the rising threat, both from the new Egypt and from a renewed al Qaeda, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that has rebadged and retooled after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has released in 2012 his autobiographical account of his internationally known condemnation of, and personal conflicts with, Islam, with a forward available online by his fellow comrade in letters vis-à-vis Islam, conservative columnist Mark Steyn. Marked for Death: Islam’s War against the West and Me recounts how an individual Dutchman became aware of an aggressive and authoritarian agenda in Islam as a faith-based political ideology. Through personal travels to the Middle East and the example of Muslim migrants who sought not to assimilate to Holland’s world-renowned tolerant culture,
On Tuesday’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer speculated that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor might try to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House. “It’s possible this is the prelude to a challenge Thursday to Boehner’s leadership by Eric Cantor,” Krauthammer said. “I think that would be quite naked to do it at this late hour, as a result of this split over the vote. Look, there are a lot of conservatives in the Republican caucus in the House who hate the bill
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