Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, says he “burst into laughter” Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal for averting the fiscal cliff. He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts.
Geithner’s visit to his office left McConnell discouraged about reaching a “balanced” deal on tax hikes and spending reductions designed to prevent a shock to the economy in January. “Nothing good is happening” in the negotiations, McConnell says, because of Obama’s insistence on tax rate hikes for the wealthy but unwillingness to embrace serious spending cuts.
Geithner suggested $1.6 trillion in tax increases, McConnell says, but showed “minimal or no interest” in spending cuts. When congressional leaders went to the White House three days after the election, Obama talked of possible curbs on the explosive growth of food stamps and Social Security disability payments. But since Geithner didn’t mention them, those reductions appear to be off the table now, McConnell says.
Obama is pushing to raise the tax rates on couples earning more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000. But those wouldn’t produce revenues anywhere near $1.6 trillion over a decade.
In fairness, President Obama’s unwillingness to embrace “serious spending cuts” has been a staple of his presidency. Just look at his most recent budget proposal, for example. That being said, it’s abundantly clear now (as if it wasn’t before) that when John Boehner told the nation hours ago that “no substantive progress” had been made regarding solving this impending crisis . . . he wasn’t kidding. Indeed, some conservatives are now openly urging congressional Republicans to simply give up -- that is, let Democrats have their way and when the US economy goes bombing off the man-made “fiscal cliff” on January 1st -- Republicans can absolve themselves of any wrongdoing. This isn’t true, of course, and would be disastrous for a number of different reasons -- as Guy pointed out below -- but it’s certainly an interesting proposition. In the end, however, I suspect some sort of 11th hour deal will be struck before the New Year; but what the details will be I can’t say.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a few words from the man who has perhaps done more than anyone living to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of reckless government spending and the dangers of -- to borrow a phrase recycled ad nauseam these days -- kicking the can down the road:
New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie did an "excellent" or "good" job responding to Hurricane Sandy, 95 percent of Garden State voters say, as they give the governor a 72 - 21 percent approval rating, the highest score Quinnipiac University ever measured for a New Jersey governor, according to a poll released today.
Today's score tops Christie's previous high 59 - 36 percent job approval in an April 11 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.
Even Democrats approve of the Republican governor 52 - 39 percent.
Voters approve 84 - 12 percent, including 69 - 28 percent among Republicans, of Christie's praise for President Barack Obama's actions after Sandy.
Some conservatives no doubt are still griping over the governor’s effusive praise of President Obama during and after Hurricane Sandy -- a calculated and self-interested political maneuver they say helped The One win re-election. In any case, Governor Christie now boasts the highest approval rating ever recorded in the history of Quinnipiac polling. This is not insignificant, and suggests that any New Jersey Democrat seeking to unseat him will probably have their hands full.
Quite rightly, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist is lashing out at congressional Republicans -- especially Rep. Peter King (R-NY) -- for trying to “weasel” out of the anti-tax pledge they had previously signed but now (surprise!) no longer want to uphold:
Anti-tax hike crusader Grover Norquist is slamming Rep. Peter King, saying he hoped “his wife understands that commitments last a little longer than two years” after the New York lawmaker said the no-taxes pledge is binding for only one session of Congress.
“The pledge is not for life, but everybody who signed the pledge including Peter King, and tried to weasel out of it, shame on him,” Norquist said on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” on Monday, adding, “I hope his wife understands that commitments last a little longer than two years or something.”
Norquist’s comments came as King and some other top Republicans said they were willing to end their commitment to the pledge as Washington scrambles to find a deal that will fend off the looming fiscal cliff. On Sunday, King said that the “taxpayer protection pledge” —first offered in 1986 from Norquist’s organization, Americans for Tax Reform — isn’t binding today.
“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” King said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have supported a declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today.”
Most of the Republicans in Congress have signed Norquist’s pledge.
“Hey, if you think a commitment is not for as long as you make it for, the commitment for the pledge, as Peter King well knows when he signed it, is that as long as you’re in Congress, you will [rein in] spending and reform government and not raise taxes,” Norquist said. “It’s not for 500 years or two generations. It’s only as long as you’re in the House or Senate. if he stayed too long, that’s his problem. But you don’t tell the bank, ‘Oh, the mortgage, wasn’t that a long time ago?’
“If you make a commitment, you keep it,” he continued.
Of course, King is not the only squishy GOP lawmaker now saying that the anti-tax pledge he once signed is no longer binding. And he certainly won’t be the last -- especially because the public at large (read this) will almost certainly blame Republicans if the debt negotiations head south and the country soars off the so-called “fiscal cliff” come January.
A new poll released Tuesday by CNN shows that more than half of those surveyed are disappointed with the way the Obama administration handled (and responded to) the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that claimed the lives of four American diplomats -- including a sitting US Ambassador -- on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11:
Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it's handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a new national survey.
But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, a majority of the public doesn't believe the Obama administration intentionally tried to mislead Americans on the September attack that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. And the survey also indicates a plurality have a positive opinion of Petraeus and are divided on whether the former top U.S. should have resigned as CIA director after acknowledging an extra-marital affair.
On Libya, 54% of the country is dissatisfied with the administration's response to the Benghazi attack, with only four in ten saying they're satisfied with the way the White House handled the matter.
"But that dissatisfaction is not because Americans see a cover-up," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only 40% believe that the inaccurate statements that administration officials initially made about the Benghazi attack were an attempt to deliberately mislead the public. Fifty-four percent think those inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."
Nearly half of those questioned (48%) say that the U.S. could have prevented the attack on its consulate in Benghazi, with 42% saying the U.S. could not have prevented the attack.
According to the poll, the public is split right down the middle on how the Obama administration's handled the Petraeus resignation, with 44% saying that officials handled it appropriately and 44% disagreeing with that view
Interestingly, according the same study, nearly half -- 48% -- were opposed to letting retired four-star General David Petraeus step down as CIA Director, even though he had (by his own admission) engaged in an extramarital affair. On the other hand, 48% said it was “the right thing to do.”
A new CNN/ORC poll conducted before Thanksgiving underscores just how confident the American people are in their elected representatives: more than two-thirds of respondents believe lawmakers will behave like “spoiled children” during the budget negotiations slated to begin in earnest this week (via National Journal):
Roughly 24 percent said the country would face a crisis and 44 percent said the country would face major problems if the tax increases and spending cuts set to enact early next year are allowed to take hold. Just 24 percent think it would cause minor problems.
Fully 77 percent said it would impact their personal finances, and more than 70 percent called for Republicans and President Obama to compromise to find a solution. If talks fail, however, the poll suggests Republicans would receive greater blame. And respondents apparently don't have much confidence in the outcome.
When asked if “elected officials in Washington will behave mostly like responsible adults or mostly like spoiled children,” 67 percent chose the latter.
When asked about solutions, 67 percent said they want to see a budget plan with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, while just 29 percent want spending cuts only. Fifty-six percent said taxes on the wealthy should be kept high, while 36 percent think taxes for the wealthy should be kept low.
Obama has called for an increase in the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, while extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the lower- and middle-class citizens. Republicans have said recently that they would consider additional revenues, though they want to generate them by closing loopholes in the tax code rather than raising tax rates.
The poll was conducted with 1,023 Americans between Nov. 16 and 18, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
This is (at least) the second poll we’ve seen in which the GOP will ultimately be blamed if the negotiations fail and sequestration cuts are implemented. Splendid. Perhaps this is why some congressional Republicans are putting revenue increases on the table and planning to violate Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge in order to strike a bipartisan agreement.
On CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning Arizona Senator John McCain made an astute if obvious observation about why the Obama administration would feel inclined to mislead Americans about the deadly raid (read: terrorist attack) on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September: It interferes with their erroneous “al Qaeda is on the run” talking point (via Mediaite):
If you look at their narrative…“I got bin laden, al Qaeda’s on the run”… al Qaeda is not on the run. Al Qaeda’s is making a strong comeback all over the Middle East. They’ve got terrorist training camps in Iraq, they’ve taken over a country -- Mali -- in North Africa, [and] they’re all over Libya.
Indeed, there is an abundance of evidence suggesting that al Qaeda is far from finished. Just read Katie Pavlich’s piece on the subject and/or watch the following clip:
In other words, there’s a reason why President Obama subtly dropped the aforesaid one-liner from his stump speech hoping no one would notice mere weeks before Election Day 2012. There was simply no evidence to support such a claim. In any case, the Obama administration still hasn’t come clean about why they sent US Ambassador Susan Rice onto five Sunday talk shows to spread (what they reportedly knew to be) factually inaccurate talking points. And it remains to be seen if they will.
On Fox News Sunday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal once again distanced himself from Mitt Romney’s unfortunate and divisive post-election remarks, and upbraided two Republican Senate candidates for “saying stupid things” during the 2012 election cycle:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his critique of the Republican Party and its 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney on Sunday as he argued for the GOP to become a larger tent party.
Romney drew a firestorm of backlash from fellow Republicans when he told donors on a conference call that President Barack Obama defeated him because of so-called “gifts” that he gave to key voting blocs such as women and minorities.
Jindal, the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association who has been particularly outspoken in his criticism, said again Sunday that he “absolutely” disagreed with Romney’s comments.
“We as a Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote,” Jindal said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We don’t start winning majorities … by insulting our voters.”
Jindal, considered a top 2016 presidential contender, also noted comments on rape and abortion made by Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri this election cycle and argued that those remarks helped turn away female voters from the GOP.
“We also don’t need to be saying stupid things,” Jindal said of those remarks.
I think Mr. Jindal’s analysis is spot-on. In truth, what’s so disheartening about Governor Romney’s comments (besides the fact that they were cringe-inducing and gratuitous) is that he ran for president in large part to unite the country after four years of division and discord. And his post-election comments, if anything, divided Americans even more along racial and socio-economic lines; a real shame. In fairness, however, I don’t (nor will I ever) fully comprehend the pain and bitter disappointment that ensues from losing a presidential bid -- especially when victory at times seemed almost imminent. But blaming others for what any impartial observer would rightly describe as Team Romney’s own internal failings is not the best way to bring people together, let alone win elections. I genuinely believe (and still do of course) that Mitt Romney would have been a terrific president. But he lost. And so the key takeaway from 2012, I think, is that if party elders can’t find a way to take every vote seriously -- as Governor Jindal seems to suggest -- they might never win a national election again.
Last night, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” to discuss the state of affairs in his home state post-Sandy and poke fun at himself. I found the clip genuinely funny -- and especially liked the part when he quoted The Boss (that “famous poet from New Jersey”), at the end of the segment. Classic:
Here’s the image of the day, courtesy of The Blaze:
An Arizona gun store has a simple message for Barack Obama voters: you’re not welcome here.
The Southwest Shooting Authority in Pinetop, Ariz. posted a sign on its door and took out a newspaper ad declaring that if you voted for the president last week, you’re not allowed in.
“If you voted for Obama, please turn around and leave! You have proven that you are not responsible enough to own a firearm!” the sign states.
Owner Cope Reynolds conceded that he can’t really tell who voted for Obama unless they “own up to it” — but if they do, they’re out.
“If they don’t say anything, we’ll never know,” Reynolds said in an email to the Phoenix New Times. “However, if they own up to it, we will not serve them.”
He said in an explanation on
AmmoLand that he did it to “demonstrate once again that the bottom line for our business is principle, not money. Yes, it has been damaging at times but our values are intact.”
You can read more about the Southwest Shooting Authority here.
Yes, my friends, that is a direct quote. But here’s a bit of context before your collective imaginations start running wild (via Politico):
Sen.-elect Ted Cruz believes Mitt Romney got a little too close to Barack Obama in the third presidential debate.
“I’m pretty certain Mitt Romney actually French-kissed Barack Obama,” Cruz said in a speech at the Federalist Society’s annual conference Friday.
Cruz said that conservatives failed to make their case to the American people, leaving Romney no choice but to move toward the president. “We didn’t win the argument, we didn’t even make the argument” throughout much of 2012, Cruz said.
But all that changed, he argued, during the first presidential debate:
“It was the one time we actually contested ideas, presented two viewpoints and directions for the country,” he said. “And then inevitably, there are these mandarins of politics, who give the voice: ‘Don’t show any contrasts. Don’t rock the boat.’ So by the third debate, I’m pretty certain Mitt Romney actually French-kissed Barack Obama.
“I have no doubt that there is a focus group somewhere of undecided Ohio voters who have been living in a cave for the last 30 years, who decided they liked that,” Cruz continued. “‘Don’t show any disagreement whatsoever with the president. Don’t rock the boat. Just be a nice guy.’”
The Texas Republican speech amounted to something of an alternative history of the 2012 election, in which Romney’s chances peaked after the first debate because he presented strong contrasts with Obama. Most observers have pinpointed the first debate as a moment where Romney moderated his rhetoric and policy proposals, claiming the political center.
Cruz said centrist strategies were doomed to fail Republicans, who should instead focus on a simple motto: “Our ideas work. Theirs don’t.”
Senator-elect Cruz hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet and he’s already causing quite the stir. The next six years are going to be interesting, to say the least.