Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back On The Trail

The country is just 34 days away from the so-called “fiscal cliff.” If no agreement between President Obama and conservative House leaders is reached by January 1, 2013, the Bush tax cuts automatically expire. According to the liberal Brookings Institution, “Nearly 90 percent of all households would face tax increases averaging nearly $3,500.” Some are rightly calling it “Taxmageddon.”

The Congressional Budget Office warned recently that failure to prevent the fiscal cliff would push the country back into recession and cause the unemployment rate to spike above 9%. Of course, every politician in Washington claims that they want to avoid this nightmare scenario.

Preventing the fiscal cliff is so important that President Obama is in Washington, D.C., working around the clock negotiating a deal with House leaders. Just kidding.

Actually, the president is back out on campaign trail delivering the same stump speech he has given for the past year. This week, he will visit a toy manufacturer in Pennsylvania.

Obama’s basic message is that tax rates must go up or he is prepared to go off the fiscal cliff. That will hurt the economy and, according to the left-wing media who will explain it to the American people, it will all be the fault of congressional conservatives.

Do Liberals Even Want A Deal?

I warned two weeks ago that a growing number of congressional liberals did not want a deal and were more than willing to go over the fiscal cliff. Now consider these excerpts from The Hill today:

“But sources close to the negotiations say [fiscal cliff] talks haven’t gone anywhere on any of the most salient issues. …It is also fanning Republican fears that the lack of urgency displayed by Obama is a deliberate strategy aimed at jamming the GOP into a last-minute agreement more favorable to Democrats. …A Democratic source close to the negotiations said that the White House ‘definitely’ sees running out the clock as to its advantage…”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has warned that the “Thelma and Louise crowd” on the left is hijacking the fiscal cliff talks by refusing to compromise on spending. Politico reported that the number two Senate Democrat, Richard Durbin of Illinois, gave a speech today essentially taking entitlement and spending reform off the table completely.

The problem is not a lack of tax revenue; it is too much big government spending. But raising taxes on the rich isn’t the solution. The rich are not rich enough and there are not enough of them to produce anywhere near the money needed.

The so-called Buffett Rule raises about $5 billion a year. The president’s proposed tax increases on those making $250,000 or more raises about $80 billion a year. That’s $85 billion when the administration is running record deficits of $1 trillion or $1,000 billion a year. A mere $915 billion shortfall.

As Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) noted, “If the president actually gets the tax increase that he really wants, that solves 8 percent of the projected deficit over the next 10 years. What in the world is the president’s plan for the other 92 percent?”

Reid To Ram Through Rules Change

Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid declared yesterday that he would follow through on his threat to change the Senate rules and limit the filibuster at the start of the new Congress next year. Reid is proposing to prevent the use of the filibuster on the introduction of legislation or “motions to proceed.”

Reid has used his power as majority leader to block conservative senators from offering amendments. In response, the conservative minority has resorted to filibustering even the introduction of bills in order to bargain for votes on amendments. Now Reid wants to take that bargaining chip away from them.

Normally changing the Senate’s rules would require a two-thirds super-majority vote. Next year, Democrats will have only 55 votes. To circumvent this obvious problem, Senator Reid wants to change the rules by using the so-called “nuclear option” that could force the change with a bare majority of 51 votes.

In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the proposal as a “naked power grab.” You can read more here.

Looking Ahead

Believe it or not, some folks are already looking ahead to the 2016 presidential race. It will be an interesting contest for sure. Democrats could see a primary race between Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

In the past few days, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said he was interested in running for the White House. Florida Senator Marco Rubio headlined a record-breaking fundraising event for the Iowa Republican Party.

Governor-elect Mike Pence of Indiana was a favorite choice at a recent meeting of conservative leaders and activists. Insiders in Florida have told me that former Governor Jeb Bush is interested. He is in Washington, D.C. this week and reportedly met with a number of top advisors and former staffers.

Since the maneuvering is already beginning, I’d like your feedback. I know it’s early, but who is your 2016 favorite?