Steve Benen: At the end of the month, deep, automatic sequestration cuts are due to kick in, hurting the economy, the Defense Department, and the general public…..
Today, President Obama said he and Congress have already approved more than $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction, and got to $4 trillion “with a balanced mix of spending cuts and more tax reform,” with the latter including changes “so that the wealthiest individuals and corporations can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.”
Is there time for a major budget agreement and a tax-reform compromise? Of course not, which is why Obama suggested Congress pass “a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with a smarter solution.”
And, of course, Republicans immediately rejected the idea and threatened to do deliberate harm to the economy…..
Reuters: President Barack Obama takes his “fiscal-cliff” campaign to the home of a family in Northern Virginia on Thursday (1:35) to illustrate the impact of letting taxes go up on the middle class….
With about three weeks remaining before steep tax hikes and budget cuts that comprise the so-called fiscal cliff are set to begin, the White House said Obama would visit the home of a family that responded to a presidential Twitter request for real-life stories about the burden of a tax increase on the middle class.
Greg Sargent: Public opinion gives Dems all the leverage: Here’s another reason Republicans may have to accept the above way out: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Americans are solidly on the side of Obama and Democrats in this battle. Voters say by 53-36 they trust Obama and Dems more than Republicans on the fiscal cliff mess. And by 51-43, voters say Republicans won’t make a “good faith effort” to cooperate with Obama on issues important to them.
Twitter meltdown of the week:
Politico’s Ben White was in a monster, well, huff because he wasn’t included in Huffington Post’s ’32 Economics Journalists You Should Be Following On Twitter’ list. But, instead of being sensible and ignoring the OUTRAGEOUS snub, what does he do? Yep, he whinged about it endlessly on Twitter.
The tweet above caused a good giggle – talk about revealing your politics. But then, he does work for Politico.
President Obama has no public events scheduled on Saturday. On Sunday, he and first lady Michelle Obama will attend the Kennedy Center Honors. They will host the honorees beforehand at a White House reception.
Kennedy Center: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the selection of the seven individuals who will receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Recipients to be honored at the 35th annual national celebration of the arts are: bluesman Buddy Guy, actor and director Dustin Hoffman, comedian and television host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and rock band Led Zeppelin. While Led Zeppelin is being honored as a band, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant will each receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
Joe Klein (Time): The Republicans are, reportedly, outraged by President Obama’s opening bid in the fiscal cliff talks. Republicans always seem to be outraged. It’s getting boring. They need to step up and make a counter-offer.
…. It might have seemed “righteous” indignation when the GOP was deluding itself about representing a majority of Americans; now, it just seem puerile and petulant.
… What is difficult for the Fox talking heads to understand is this: We had an election. The President won. This gives him greater leverage than the last election we had, in 2010, when the President’s party lost…
…. the assorted Republican drama queens seem so two months ago, don’t they?
ThinkProgress: With Republicans balking at the prospect of allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 2 percent of Americans, Democrats are losing patience. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Friday that the House GOP will not hold a vote on a middle-class tax bill that excludes the top income brackets, even though the Senate has already approved one.
In response, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that Democrats plan to bring the legislation to a floor vote next week no matter what. The Democrats plan to use a discharge petition, which can force a bill to the floor if it has been stuck in committee for 30 legislative days. In a new statement, Pelosi dared her Republican colleagues to reject the plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of the country…
Gail Collins: You undoubtedly have heard that Barack Obama invited Romney for lunch this week…. …. You’d think they could have served meat loaf. Mitt’s favorite food is meat loaf. Also, Mitt loves practical jokes, and if Obama had really wanted to get in the spirit of things, he could have had Romney arrested by the Capitol Police in the lobby.
…. The makeup meal doesn’t even have to make the loser feel better. (In 2008, Obama had John McCain over for a postelection meeting in Chicago, and you can see what a healing effect that had on McCain’s ego.) …
…. [the president] elaborated at his first postelection news conference, saying that Romney “presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with.”
The “actually” didn’t sound all that enthusiastic. Also, when it came time to praise his former rival, Obama said Romney “did a terrific job running the Olympics.”
Matthew Yglesias: Obama’s 2010 Lame Duck Tax Deal Was a Triumph, Not A Sellout …. David Corn has an interesting piece (see below) pushing back on the myth of the Obama cave-in, but I’d go further – the deal was a triumph …
….. Obama secured a deal that extended the middle class tax cuts, extended UI benefits, created a stimulative payroll tax holiday, cleared the legislative decks for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal and the passage of the New START arms control treated, and in exchange he gave up nothing of any real substance …. now he gets to play that leverage from a somewhat stronger economic and political context. It’s totally solid legislative dealmaking, and not any kind of cave-in or surrender.
David Corn (Mother Jones): ….. Obama didn’t wave the white flag in 2010. He turned a face-off over the Bush tax cuts into an opportunity to enact a second stimulus that he otherwise could not get past Senate Republicans. His failure at that time was not that he mustered insufficient mettle; he failed to convey to the world that he had ju-jitsued the GOPers.
…. no one ought to forget that Obama, a progressive in his policy preferences, remains a pragmatist. What happened two years ago is not an indication that Obama is likely to yield in the new face-off, but that he will be assessing the political dynamics in gridlocked Washington and be willing to bargain hard for a good deal with true benefits. That’s not caving in. It’s governing.
NYT: When Tea Party activists swamped town hall-style meetings about health care in the summer of 2009, President Obama’s army of campaign volunteers largely stayed away ….. now, Mr. Obama is seizing a second chance to keep his election-year supporters animated.
With lawmakers scheduled to return to work on Monday to begin intense discussions before a looming fiscal deadline, Mr. Obama’s aides are trying to harness the passions that returned him to the White House, hoping to pressure Republicans in Congress to accept tax increases on the wealthy. The president’s strategists are turning first to the millions of e-mail addresses assembled by the campaign and the White House.
Already, supporters are being asked to record YouTube videos of themselves talking about the importance of raising taxes on the rich. Aides said those videos would be shared on Facebook and Twitter and would be forwarded to centrist Democrats, as well as to mainstream Republicans, who they hope will break with their Tea Party colleagues.
President Obama talks with Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for South Asia, left, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon in the Oval Office, Nov. 13 (Pete Souza)
10:0 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi addresses reporters (C-Span)
1:30: President Obama holds a news conference
2:45: President Obama and VP Biden attend a meeting with business leaders
McClatchy: President Obama assured labor unions and liberal organizations Tuesday that he’s firmly committed to letting tax cuts for higher incomes expire as scheduled at the end of the year….
Obama met with the labor and liberal groups for an hour at the White House, his first extended meeting with anyone from outside his administration since he won re-election a week ago. He told them he’s committed to raising taxes on higher incomes as he negotiates with Congress on avoiding the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases when Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year and automatic spending cuts negotiated during last year’s debt crisis kick in.
“President Obama today strongly reiterated his steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent finally end Dec. 31 and to protecting the middle class in the process,” said Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org….
Dana Milbank: President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.
If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them.
…. a large number of patriotic Americans, mostly from states won by Mitt Romney last week, have petitioned the White House to let them secede. They should be careful about what they wish for…..
Red states receive, on average, far more from the federal government in expenditures than they pay in taxes. The balance is the opposite in blue states. The secession petitions, therefore, give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.
…. would-be rebels from the red states should keep in mind during the coming budget battle that those who are most ardent about cutting government spending tend to come from parts of the country that most rely on it.
2:25 President Obama is interviewed by regional television (from Jacksonville, Fla., Norfolk, Va. and San Diego, Cal.) and a newspaper (the Virginia-Pilot, which covers the Norfolk and Hampton Roads areas)
6:15: The President and First Lady have dinner with winners of a campaign contest
Daily Beast (August 11): Paul Ryan’s Extreme Abortion Views …. on abortion and women’s health care, there isn’t much daylight between Ryan and, say, Michele Bachmann ….. He believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health….. More here
TPM (August 19): Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign : “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement. A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape”
JSOnline: Odious remarks by GOP Missouri Senate candidate Cong. Todd Akin about how few pregnancies result from “legitimate rape” have done more than outrage people across the country and doom Akin’s bid to move up from the House.
It motivated the Romney campaign – already trailing among women voters in recent polls – to distance itself from Akin by assuring voters that Romney and Paul Ryan should they win in November, would not oppose raped women’s access to abortion.
“Governor Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.
You’d probably say that sounds reasonable and humane – except it was just three days ago that PolitiFact devoted a lot of space to this issue and found that while Romney backed abortions in cases of incest and rape, Ryan did not.
…. I think this will be a huge issue in the campaign. I don’t see how Romney and Ryan can sell this to the base, which will see it as a Ryan sellout or forced surrender ordered by Romney – a former moderate whom the base has never embraced.
…. Ryan’s roll out – embarrassed and side-tracked last week over his duplicity in blasting the Obama stimulus while soliciting its funds, then conceding his denials about the funding solicitations were indeed inaccurate – is unraveling more quickly than Sarah Palin’s.
Michael Tomasky: Todd Akin did not come up with this idea of “legitimate rape” on his own …. it’s been floating around in the mite-infested right-wing air since the 1980s….
…. If you’ve been reading about this since yesterday, you’ve probably come across the figure of 32,000 pregnancies per year in the United States that result from rape….
I have to say that number astonished and sickened me …. I read elsewhere that 1,870 women are raped every day in the land of the free. Do the math. The numbers check out. Holy crap. That’s like war. We’re living amidst a war. And what does Akin propose to do about it – and, for that matter, Paul Ryan?
…. Michelle Goldberg was on this case in January 2011, writing about HR 3, the bill that sought to make a distinction between “forcible rape” and “statutory rape” …. Two of the original cosponsors? Akin and Ryan.
Will this remark put Ryan on the spot? It damn well better. How many of those 1,870 women raped every day does he think weren’t really raped?
Washington Post editorial: …. Mitt Romney promises to lower everyone’s income tax rate without reducing revenue. This sounds terrific. Why didn’t we think of it sooner?
Mr. Romney says that he can achieve this seemingly magical result by “broadening the base” for income tax collection. This, too, sounds great. In principle, everyone favors “broadening the base,” also known as closing loopholes. But everyone favors closing someone else’s loopholes: those of oil companies, say, or of plutocrats who park their money in the Cayman Islands.
…. Recently the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center showed that Mr. Romney’s plan would by necessity help the rich and hurt the middle class …. Romney took strong issue with this conclusion. “They made garbage assumptions and they reached a garbage conclusion,” he said….
…. If these are “garbage assumptions,” why doesn’t Mr. Romney let us in on his own?….
In reality, his principles are mutually exclusive: You can’t simultaneously lower tax rates, take in as much money as before and protect the middle class …. It’s reasonable to assume that his cuts would, as did President Bush’s, worsen the nation’s deficit.
Until he’s willing to explain how he would avoid such a result, he has little standing to criticize Mr. Obama’s fiscal shortcomings.
Paul Krugman: Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate led to a wave of pundit accolades. Now, declared writer after writer, we’re going to have a real debate about the nation’s fiscal future. This was predictable: never mind the Tea Party, Mr. Ryan’s true constituency is the commentariat, which years ago decided that he was the Honest, Serious Conservative, whose proposals deserve respect even if you don’t like him.
But he isn’t and they don’t. Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket.
…. The question now is whether Mr. Ryan’s undeserved reputation for honesty and fiscal responsibility can survive his participation in a deeply dishonest and irresponsible presidential campaign.
…. So will the choice of Mr. Ryan mean a serious campaign? No, because Mr. Ryan isn’t a serious man — he just plays one on TV.