Saturday, December 29, 2012

"You Get What You Pay, and Vote, For...."

This whole "fiscal cliff" business seems to want to seem complicated.

It's really not.

What follows is a garden variety, "update" (as of the time this piece is being written) on where they are in terms of getting this seemingly complicated business resolved.

Feel free to read away.

If, though, you're pressed for time and want the simple, quick read bottom line, simply skip down to the very last paragraph of the news article.

Washington (CNN) -- The Senate's top Democrat and Republican are working this weekend to forge a compromise to prevent the country from going over the fiscal cliff, the combination of sweeping spending cuts and widespread tax increases that will otherwise take effect in days.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, on late Friday afternoon called the next 24 hours "very important" in the grueling effort to avert a crisis that has been two years in the making. House Speaker John Boehner has called on the Senate to go first, and then his chamber -- which reconvenes Sunday -- will act.
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader, expressed hope that he and Reid will agree on a plan to present to their respective caucuses "as early as Sunday."
Early Friday evening after a meeting involving him, congressional leaders and top administration officials, President Barack Obama said he was "modestly optimistic" the Senate leaders would reach an agreement. At the same time, he conceded, "Nobody's going to get 100% of what they want."
The two senators' chiefs of staff -- David Krone for Reid, and Sharron Soderstrom for McConnell -- will lead the talks, much of which will be carried on over the phone and by e-mail, aides said. Neither of their bosses is expected to be in the Capitol on Saturday, though that could change.
Staffers for Boehner, the top man in Republican-led House of Representatives, won't directly take part in the negotiations, but they'll be kept informed by McConnell's staff, a GOP aide said. The White House will learn what's going on through Reid's staff.
Democrats believe Republicans should make the "first move" -- basically by saying what changes should be made to the president's proposal, which calls for tax rates to stay the same for all annual family income below $250,000. The expectation is that Republicans will try to raise that income threshold to $400,000 and push to keep estate taxes low; Democrats said they might be open to one such scenario, but not both.
If the offer is "laughable," a Democratic aide said it will probably be leaked to the media. If it is reasonable, it should remain private -- which would mean, for Saturday at least, that no news may be good news.
And if the two sides don't agree on a bill over the weekend, Obama said he wants his latest proposal to be put up for a vote in both the Senate and House. He predicted his plan -- which, in addition to his tax rate proposal, would extend unemployment benefits and "lay the groundwork" for deficit reduction -- would pass in both chambers with bipartisan support.
As members of Congress and their staffs talk, Obama will make his case to the public by appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," his first appearance on a Sunday political talk show in three years.
Reid said, at the very least, that he'd prepare legislation that includes elements favored by for a vote by Monday. Still, he insisted he'd first work with his GOP colleagues.
"I look forward to hearing any good-faith proposals Sen. McConnell has for altering this bill," the Nevada Democrat said.
If no legislation passes both chambers and therefore remains unsigned by the president by year's end, the fiscal cliff will go into effect -- something economists warn could trigger a recession.
The lack of political movement thus far, and lack of confidence Washington politicians can get anything done with so little time left, has spurred consumer confidence to sag and stock market values to sink.
Some like Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York expressed cautious optimism Friday that the looming deadline, and the key players renewed engagement, would spur a deal. But others, like Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, derided the process so far as "a total dereliction of duty on every level."
"I've been very surprised that the president has not laid out a very specific plan to deal with this," he said on CBS "This Morning."
"But candidly, Congress should have done the same. And I think the American people should be disgusted."
The principal dispute continues to be over taxes, specifically Democrats' demand to extend most tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush while allowing higher rates of the 1990s to return on top income brackets. During his re-election campaign, Obama said this would protect 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses from tax hikes.
Republicans have opposed any kind of increase in tax rates, and Boehner suffered the political indignity last week of offering a compromise -- a $1 million threshold for the higher rates to kick in -- that his GOP colleagues refused to support because it raised taxes and had no chance of passing the Senate.
Obama and Democrats have leverage, based on the president's reelection last month and Democrats' gains in the House and Senate in the new Congress. In addition, polls consistently show majority support for Obama's position on taxes, and Democrats insist the House would pass the president's plan with Democrats joined by some Republicans if Boehner allowed a vote on it.
However, influential anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist has vowed to back primary challenges against Republicans who violate his widely signed pledge not to raise taxes. Even if a deal is reached, Norquist has predicted yet more budget showdowns every time the government needs additional money to operate.
The two sides seemingly had made progress early last week on forging a $2 trillion deficit reduction deal that included new revenue sought by Obama and spending cuts and entitlement changes desired by Boehner.
Boehner appeared to move on increased tax revenue, including higher rates on top income brackets and eliminating deductions and loopholes. But his inability to rally all House Republicans behind his plan raised questions about his role and what comes next.
All this has fueled disdain for politicians by many Americans. Such contempt is deserved, said Rep. Steven LaTourette, an Ohio Republican, who is retiring from Congress.
"I think America should be embarrassed by its leadership in D.C.," he told CNN on Friday. "The fact that we have been unable to do things, and instead worried about our next elections. ... I think it's sinful."
We are, by nature, a population of disagreeable sorts.
The kind of people who can always be counted on to oppose each other on every subject from gun control to birth control, from who should win "The Voice" to what we should all have for lunch.
Even whether or not we should make it possible for teachers to have weapons to protect themselves, and their students, from nut bags with Bushmasters.
But, every now and then, a tiny trace of togetherness rears its too seldom seen head and we find ourselves, to a person, saying "right on", "damn skippy", "amen" or "effin A".
Being unable, of course, to be inclined to agree on just one way to say that we all agree.
Said tiny trace has reared here.
"I think America should be embarrassed by its leadership in D.C.," he told CNN on Friday. "The fact that we have been unable to do things, and instead worried about our next elections. ... I think it's sinful."
Three things occur to this mind.
We are sure to all agree with what Mr. LaTourette has to say.
The fact that he is leaving, and not entering, the Congress should scream volumes about the continuing decline of that supposedly "governing" body.
And, here's one that is sure to get us back to disagreeing mode in a nano second....
We have no one to blame for all of this but ourselves.
Because we keep re-electing these clowns.
Can I get an amen?
Or maybe an "effin A"?

Monday, December 24, 2012

"...I Do Solemnly Swear, That I Will Faithfully Execute, If You Really, Really Think You Need Me To Do This...."

It's often said that the first step to correcting a problem is to admit that there is one.

As my New Orleans brethren would suggest, true dat.

(Yahoo News) Mitt Romney didn't want to be president, anyway.

That's what Tagg Romney, Mitt's oldest son, told the Boston Globe for its big post-mortem on his father's failed presidential bid published on Sunday.

“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life," Tagg Romney told the paper. "He had no desire to ... run. If he could have found someone else to take his place ... he would have been ecstatic to step aside.

"He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them," Tagg continued. "He has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention.”

Romney's reluctance to become commander in chief has been hinted at by his sons before. Before their father sought the 2012 GOP nomination, several said they tried to convince him not to run.

"I tried to convince him not to," Matt Romney told Conan O'Brien in June. "I think there were a few of us that tried that. I just felt for us as a family, this isn't the best thing. But ... for the country, we think it's the right thing."

A Republican Party seemingly obsessed with getting rid of Barack Obama and they nominate, as their standard bearer, a guy who "wanted to be president less than anyone I've ever met in my life?".

Not to mention the millions and millions of dollars spent to promote a guy who apparently didnt really want the promotion in the first place?

If the Republican Party wants to be a force in 2013 America, common sense would indicate the way to do so is to realize they need to tap their pool of talented, passionate and committed young and visionary office seekers.

And avoid dragging their old, tired war horses into a limelight they don't even want.

Uh, hey, G.O.P.....there's your problem.