We know that more Democrats than Republicans have been talking nonchalantly about jumping off the fiscal cliff. But is President Obama one of them? It is a very real possibility.
What's your prediction for how things are going to play out? Should the GOP go along and forget about the automatic budget cuts and tax increases? Sound off in the comments here on this or any other topic you'd like.
Despite Chris Matthews having worked for former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, his grasp of how the United States government works is tenuous at best.
On Monday's Hardball, the host repeatedly said current Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) "lost" on Election Day despite the Congressman winning 99.9 percent of the votes in his district while his Party retained control of the House (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Appearing on Monday's MSNBC Morning Joe, NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd shared some inside information: "So I threw the Lincoln analogy at a close aide to the President last week, and he said, 'You know, with this Republican – with the way politics of Washington are today, there'd still be slavery.' That Lincoln wouldn't have been able to navigate the polarization..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Rather than dismiss such a nasty partisan attack, Todd observed: "It was an interesting and depressing observation from this very smart White House aide."
On today's Morning Joe, asked by substitute host Willie Geist how much of the tough talk by Republicans and Dems over the fiscal cliff was posturing, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said that 80% was posturing, then added "a lot of it is, let's see how big yours is versus mine."
Steele was careful to suggest he was simply talking about the size of the two parties' respective . . . plans. But between the smirks, raised eyebrows—and an immediate intervention from Geist—it seemed obvious that Steele was making a macho allusion to something else. View the video after the jump.
In a colorful demonstration of the Washington press corps’ disdain for Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge, on Sunday’s This Week, a flustered ABC News/NPR veteran Cokie Roberts blurted out: “It’s...politically smart to cut the knees out from under Grover Norquist. I mean this guy is, you know, who is he? He’s an unelected lobbyist.”
She soon urged that “a certain amount of saying ‘the emperor has no clothes’” about Norquist is helpful. “To say that, I think is very useful.”
CNN's Ali Velshi labeled anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist a "dangerous man" on Friday for blocking a fiscal cliff compromise between Democrats and Republicans.
"Hey, speaking of the fiscal cliff, there's been all this focus on one dangerous man who stands in the way of a deal that could avert it, Grover Norquist. He is neither elected, nor has he ever run for office, so why is Washington so scared of him?" Velshi introduced his segment on Norquist. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Congress returned to "work" this week (now there's a laugh) to complete its lame-duck session before taking another holiday. Spending other people's money is a taxing experience.
Their task is to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a geological construct of their own making. It doesn't take a genius to predict both parties will try to do two things: (1) reach an agreement that will allow each side to take some credit and (2) require those who work for a living to pay government more while they come up with phony, or inconsequential spending "cuts."
A search at the Associated Press's national website on Warren Buffett's last name at about 5 p.m. ET returned two recent items which are still present there. Each item (here and here) mentions the Obama Fan of Omaha's idea to "impose a minimum tax of 30 percent on income between $1 million and $10 million, and a 35 percent rate for income above that." Neither mentions the pathetically small amount such a tax would raise while seriously impacting the ability of high income earners who own or run businesses to expand them -- or in some cases causing them to shrink.
It's the same at other establishment press outlets. Two recent New York Times items found in a search on Buffett's full name (here and here, the latter item being Buffett's own op-ed on Sunday) fail to note how little money Buffett's proposed tax hikes would raise. So how little is "little"?
New York Times White House reporter Jackie Calmes celebrated President George H.W. Bush's 1990 budget deal "achievement" in her "Debt Reckoning" column Thursday, part of a new feature on the debate over the "fiscal cliff": "Looking for Lessons In the 1990 Budget Deal." The deal was blasted by conservatives as a disaster which failed to close the deficit as promised, because the proposed spending cuts never came, while income tax rates dutifully rose.
Calmes, who almost always takes the Democrats side in budget disputes, even took sides in her descriptions, calling former Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley "genial" while pronouncing former Republican White House chief of staff John Sununu "pugnacious."
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, new White House correspondent and former Fox News journalist Major Garrett bucked the "militantly non-partisan" label he gave himself over a year ago when he hyped the President's supposed populist stand in the fiscal cliff negotiations with top leaders in Congress: "President Obama is adamant about protecting existing income tax rates for middle-income earners and raising them on the wealthy."
Garrett later spotlighted how Obama "warned Republicans not to ignore his calls to protect middle-income households from higher taxes."
Once again, CNN pressed a Republican to support income tax hikes. On Thursday, Starting Point co-hosts Brooke Baldwin and John Berman tried to paint GOP opposition to tax increases as at odds with the American people and a financial expert.
"So here is one of the biggest guys in finance on the planet saying that maybe a tax rate increase should be part of a deal. Does he have a point? Can't it be part of a deal?" pushed Berman. He cited the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, who said he "wouldn't preclude" the President's plan to raise tax rates. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose tossed softball questions at Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar on Wednesday's CBS This Morning on the looming fiscal cliff, just two days after they hounded Republican Senator Bob Corker on the same issue. Rose casually mentioned to Senator Klobuchar how "the President believes you can't get there by deduction. You have to raise [tax] rates. Is that your view?" O'Donnell merely asked, "Is this posturing on the fiscal cliff, or is there real work being done? What's your sense?"
By contrast, Rose tried to get Senator Corker to "forgo the [anti-tax hike] pledge because it is outdated and the country's problems are too big." O'Donnell followed up by asking the Tennessee Republican if he was "willing to also raise the capital gains rate." The morning show anchors failed to make similar demands of the Minnesota Democrat to cut spending.
In an interview with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley last week, Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein immediately brought up a highly sensitive subject that liberals in the media and highest levels of government refuse to acknowledge: entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are unsustainable at their current rate and need significant reform to ensure those programs exist in the future.
In response to the clip, MSNBC host Ed Schultz and Teamsters President James Hoffa were beside themselves on Tuesday night's Ed Show -- offended that Blankfein would voice such a "misinformed" view on national television. The only son of the notorious Jimmy Hoffa was ardently opposed to the idea that there is anything currently wrong with the system as is, to suggest otherwise is just "outrageous" he thundered. [ relevant video & transcript below ]
On Tuesday, Piers Morgan lashed out at "intransigent" Republicans and lectured RNC chair Reince Priebus that now is the time to compromise and increase taxes "to the benefit of the American national interest."
"But you Republicans led by Grover Norquist areabsolutely intransigent about allowing any raise in taxation, and yet the American public want you to do it," Morgan lectured Priebus. Later on in his show, he smacked "implacable" GOP opposition to tax increases. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
It’s the Republicans who are in a bind. They’re beholden to the will of the evil genius Grover Norquist. They’re scared to death of The Club for Growth. That's the trite liberal media narrative that CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli furthered earlier this morning in a piece in which he forecast that the Republicans, and only Republicans, are in for a bruising in the coming weeks should a "fiscal cliff" deal not be finalized. But in doing so, Montopoli conveniently forgets that Democrats have their pressure groups that hold their feet to the fire against any significant spending cuts and/or entitlement reform.
Perhaps Montopoli doesn't watch his own network's evening newscasts. On the Tuesday Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes noted that Democrats and President Obama are digging in their heels against any proposed deal which addresses entitlement spending. In fact, forty-two Democratic members of the House have signed on to a bill that explicitly prohibits cuts to the welfare state.
The conventional wisdom has emerged that in order to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” politicians in Washington must agree to some method of tax increases (“revenue”) – which will be real, even if low taxes are not the cause of our ills -- alongside some kind of promise of spending restraint on entitlement programs, which is our problem, and which no one believes Washington will restrain.
The American left and our “objective” journalists – same thing, I know – are not helping the nation balance its budget. As usual, these partisan hacks are obsessed with tearing the Republican coalition apart, limb from limb. By empowering the GOP moderates, they drive the conservatives into exile. These liberals are dishonest, but not dumb. They have no intention of honoring a pledge to curtail wasteful spending. What they want is GOP civil war.
Throughout the liberal media's ceaseless coverage of the impending fiscal cliff debacle, they have fixated on hiking taxes on the "rich," even though doing so would come nowhere close to solving America's fiscal woes. Whatever short term gain in revenue from tax hikes will not last the federal government for very long, and another credit downgrade is inevitable if entitlement reform continues to be ignored.
Nowhere is this 'tax the rich' and 'fair share' obsession more blatant than on MSNBC, where the Obama administration's message is amplified on a daily basis. Take Tuesday's Jansing & Co for instance. Host Chris Jansing set up Huffington Post contributor Ryan Grim to advise President Obama and Democrats on the Hill, which amounted to him reiterating that going over the fiscal cliff may not be such a bad thing after all. Democrats can appear to be the tax cutters as a result, by reinstating the Bush tax cuts on all but the top income earners. [ video below, MP3 audio here ]
In an interview with Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer was puzzled by GOP opposition to the billionaire investor's call for higher taxes: "One of the ideas being pushed out there by the Right is that if you raise taxes on the wealthy it will have a chilling effect on hiring and investment in this country....Why do you think Republicans are clinging so tightly to that idea?" Buffett replied: "Well, I think they're worried about primaries next time, but I think you're seeing people peel away from that." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Earlier in the discussion, Lauer wondered: "...you favor a minimum tax rate for the wealthy....Do you see the political will in Washington right now to accomplish that and come up with a compromise?" Buffett replied: "I think there's a general feeling among the American public certainly, and even among many in Congress, that the rich like me have been getting away with low tax rates, and that it's time to make the tax rates more progressive."
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer and correspondent Jonathan Karl on Monday night salivated over Republicans breaking Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. “We did see a sign the paralysis may be ending,” Sawyer relayed over “Tax Revolt?” on screen, touting “a Republican mutiny against a man who had convinced them to take a pledge.” She soon trumpeted the “new sign of flexibility.”
As if that’s a bad thing, Jonathan Karl fretted “the pledge is the biggest obstacle to any deal that would raise taxes.” But he saw hope ahead in how “with a budget crisis on the horizon and a re-elected President insisting on tax increases, some Republicans are now thinking the unthinkable: Ditching the pledge.”
After smiling on Republicans who stepped away from Grover Norquist's no-tax hike pledge, CNN pressured the GOP House Majority Whip to raise income tax rates on Monday's The Situation Room.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer suggested a tax hike on those making over $250,000 a year, noting "those families and those small businesses did quite well during the years of the Clinton administration when the rate was 39.6. Why not go back to that?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On the November 25 broadcast of ABC's This Week, former Bush advisor Matthew Dowd continued his shift away from the Republican Party by bashing conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, saying he’s a impediment to good government. For good measure he childishly drew the connection to the name of a Muppet character on Sesame Street.
"Grover Norquist is an impediment to good governing…and the only good thing about Grover Norquist is he’s named after a character from Sesame Street…and that’s the last I hope we hear of him,” according to Dowd. It’s sad that some on the Right feel that fighting for the American taxpayer is “an impediment to good governing.”
Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell sung from the same liberal sheet music on Monday's CBS This Morning as they tried to get Republican Senator Bob Corker to commit to higher federal taxes. Rose wondered if the Corker was "prepared, as others are doing, to...say, I'm going to forgo the [anti-tax hike] pledge because it is outdated and the country's problems are too big." O'Donnell asked the Tennessee politician if he was "willing to also raise the capital gains rate."
O'Donnell also cited "independent analysis" by the Tax Policy Center, but omitted that it is a project of two liberal organizations - the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
CNN broke out the pom-poms on Monday and cheered the Republicans who reneged on Grover Norquist's no-tax hike pledge. CNN contributor John Avlon lauded them as "profiles in courage."
Avlon quipped that now "people don't fear the Grover. And that's a good thing, you know." Anchor Carol Costello clearly liked the GOP mutiny, asking "how excited should we really be by all of this talk of throwing Grover Norquist under the bust [sic]?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Deck the halls! The Obamas were Christmas shopping on "Small Business Saturday," and spurring economic growth with their consumer spending. Economic activity that may come to an abrupt end if we take the plunge off the fiscal cliff.
CBSNews.com reporter Lindsey Boerma wrote on November 24 about the outing detailing how, “accompanied by his daughters Sasha and Malia, the president journeyed across the river to One More Page Books, which the White House described as an "independent, neighborhood bookstore." After consulting his Blackberry for an apparent holiday wish list, he purchased 15 children's books before even browsing the store.” But is President Obama really pro-small business?
Talking to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie enthusiastically touted: "...we've seen a few Republicans peeling off from a pledge they signed to Grover Norquist, who, of course, is a lobbyist, an anti-tax lobbyist, who's been very powerful among conservatives. Is that a significant move?"
Todd replied by urging the rest of the GOP to similarly abandon core conservative principles: "I'll be impressed when you start seeing House Republicans do it....where it looks like Republicans are softening, it's Senate Republicans. If this deal could be cut between the Senate Republicans and the White House, we wouldn't even be talking about this...the fiscal cliff wouldn't be an issue."
This morning the Obama administration's "National Economic Council & Council of Economic Advisers" jointly released "The Middle-Class Tax Cuts' Impact on Consumer Spending & Retailers." Among the howlers in this non-economic political document: "Independent Economic Analysis Clearly Demonstrates Why We Need to Extend the 2001/2003/2010 Tax Cuts for the Middle-class." But not everyone else? Don't high income-earners spend money too?
The primary thrust of the administration's release is that, in regards to negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff," is the predictable class warfare clarion call, complete with kidnapping-related rhetoric: "There is no reason to hold the middle-class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the highest income earners." The word "hostage" appears three times in the first two pages of the document. The subtext, of course, is that the hostage-holders are the Republicans in Congress, particularly the House of Representatives. At the Politico, Byron Tau ignored this classless, tasteless partisan tack by supposed professionals:
America has created almost six trillion dollars in new debt in the past four years and Time magazine's Joe Klein wants to "bring back earmarks."
On ABC's This Week Sunday, Klein also said, "I think John McCain did a tremendous disservice to this country by making such a huge campaign about earmarks" (video follows with transcript and commentary):