In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, Mayors Against Illegal Guns launched the campaign, “Demand a Plan,” which features A-list celebrities calling on Americans to demand a gun control plan from their elected officials. Of course, it’s nothing more than typical Hollywood hypocrisy.
But now a new video called “Demand a Plan – Demand Celebrities Go F*** Themselves” has been created that highlights the gun violence many of these same stars have taken part in in their movies and television shows.
The "Demand Celebrities" response video intersperses the original PSA with scenes of gun violence in movies starring the celebrities mentioned above, plus Jeremy Renner, Reese Witherspoon, Jamie Foxx, and many others.
For example, Jamie Foxx lists “Columbine” during the original PSA, after which the response video runs a montage of extreme gun violence from several of Foxx's movies.
The response video closes with the message: “Hollywood is a culture of violence.”
WARNING: **Extremely Graphic**
Remember, after the NRA’s first press conference since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Wayne LaPierre was chastised for saying Hollywood shares the blame for celebrating violence in pop culture.
The House approved a bill to rescind the executive order President Obama signed last week that ended the pay freeze on federal employees, which meant that some federal workers would be getting a raise—including members of Congress. A number of lawmakers spoke out about the absurdity of the pay increase and timing of the move. Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a statement, “This executive order was not requested by Congress and we should reject it. We have a spending problem in our country and we should be looking for areas to cut spending. At a time when families across the country are cutting back we should not increase government spending and add to the debt burden by giving members of Congress a pay raise.”
GOP Rep. Darrell Issa’s office issued a statement:
On a bi-partisan vote of 287-129 the House of Representatives approved H.R. 6726, a bill to overturn the President’s executive order that gave an across the board pay hike to Members of Congress and federal bureaucrats. The President’s executive order will cost taxpayers $11 billion over the next 10 years. The bill was introduced by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., led debate on the House Floor.
“The President, the Senate Majority, and the House Minority have not been able to agree to even the most meager spending cuts,” Issa said in the statement. “Yet the President’s executive order gives all members of Congress a salary hike on top of the $174,000 a year we already earn.”
The President’s executive order gave an across the board salary hike to white collar federal employees, whose average compensation exceeds $100,000. In January 2012, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a study which found that total compensation for federal employees was 16% greater than comparable private sector employees.
“The President’s across the board pay increase for white collar workers is not necessary to retain talented employees and just wastes taxpayer money,” Issa continued. “Federal employees have continued to receive promotions and within-grade pay increases over the past few years of the supposed ‘pay freeze,’ and voluntary separations from the federal government are near all-time lows.”
Even though the bill passed that doesn’t change the fact that 129 members apparently feel they deserve a pay increase. Unbelievable.
House Speaker John Boehner presented two options to his members today—to make an amendment that would add a package of spending cuts to the bill, an extremely risky move, or vote to adopt the deal and send it along to President Obama. After determining there wasn’t enough support to amend the legislation, which passed 89-8 in the Senate, the House is moving forward with an up-or-down vote tonight.
The decision to move ahead with the Senate bill — which allows tax rates to jump to 39.6 percent on income over $450,000 — came after House Republicans internally rejected a plan to tack on a package of spending cuts to the Senate measure, which passed early Tuesday morning.
The Senate bill will now likely pass the House after being allowed an up-or-down vote and end the immediate crisis.
If the Senate deal had been amended, it would’ve prolonged the drama as Senate Democrats have said they wouldn’t take up an amended bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden reached the Senate deal over the weekend, and without an agreement, the nation’s recovering economy could be shaken by hiking tax rates on all Americans and maintaining steep federal spending cuts.
The House passed the Senate fiscal cliff bill, 257-167.
The House voted Tuesday night 257 to 167 to pass legislation that prevents tax rates from rising on households making under $450,000 and delays for two months scheduled across-the-board spending cuts that would have started Wednesday.
- The legislation now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
- Under the measure, income tax rates will rise on individuals making more than $400,000 and families making more than $450,000; the Alternative Minimum Tax is permanently indexed for inflation and the estate tax rises to 40 percent from its current 35 percent level, with the first $5 million in assets exempted.
- The legislation is the product of months of intense negotiations between the White House and Congress. Its passage averts a combination of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that could have caused another recession.
How bad do some House Republicans think the Senate bill is? Ohio Rep. Steven LaTourette thinks the only way that number of Senate Republicans could have voted for the plan was if they were drunk:
"I think our sense, at least in the House, was that a number of the Republicans that voted for it must have been drunk, because it really was a number that wasn't reflective of where we thought some of these people were going to be on a bill like this," he said after emerging from a House GOP caucus meeting.
The CBO analyzed the bill, which passed 89-8, and found that the deal comes with a hefty price tag:
The Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Senate-passed package showed the bill adds more than $330 billion in net new spending, thanks to new refundable tax credits and new unemployment benefits. All told, the bill deepens deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the next decade, with the vast majority of that coming in the form of extended tax cuts.
It’s going to be another long night. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked out of the GOP House conference meeting today saying that he does not support the Senate bill and a number of House Republicans have expressed serious concern with the lack of balance in the bill with regard to spending cuts. CBO figures put the ratio at 41:1—tax increases to spending cuts.
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said after today's first conference meeting that the lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill "was a universal concern amongst members in today's meeting."
"The Speaker and Leader laid out options to the members and listened to feedback," Buck said. "Conversations with members will continue throughout the afternoon on the path forward."
On Monday, Speaker Boehner said that “decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will mot be made until House members—and the American people—have been able to review the legislation.” The Speaker was reportedly “shocked” so many Senate Republicans voted for the bill but didn’t say what course of action the House should take just yet. After the Republican meeting, however, Rep. Spencer Bachus said he would be very surprised if the bill didn’t go back to the Senate, which would further complicate matters, of course. Senate Democrat leaders are already saying they will reject any efforts by the House to amend the deal and House Democrats think holding an up-or-down vote on the bill “shouldn’t even be a question.”
"The House Republicans have two choices: cut their losses and pass the deal now, or else put up a fight they cannot win and pass the same deal a few days from now after being further humiliated," said a Senate Democratic leadership aide.
Another senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will not reconsider the bill, which passed by a vote of 89 to 8.
"We're done," said the aide.
House Republicans will reconvene around 5 p.m. today.
The House must act by Thursday at noon, when the 112th Congress adjourns. Once the 113th Congress begins, the Senate would have to re-pass its legislation. Lawmakers said they were also aware of the potential for a significant negative reaction in financial markets on Wednesday if a deal to prevent tax increases is scuttled.
Economists have said the U.S. economy could tip back into recession if the full slate of tax increases and spending cuts that comprise the fiscal cliff take effect because of congressional failure.
Last week President Obama signed an executive order to end the pay freeze on federal employees, meaning that some federal workers like Vice President Biden, the Supreme Court and yes, members of Congress—will be getting a raise. The amounts—though varied—weren’t too significant in the grand scheme of things but it was the principle and timing of the matter that was troubling.
Now, The Weekly Standard is reporting that John Barrow (D-Ga), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, is moving to block the pay increase:
The move, led by John Barrow of Georgia, is to prevent the pay increase that Obama issued through an executive order from going into effect.
"At a time when American families face real hardship, it would be irresponsible to allow Congressional pay to increase," says Barrow in a statement. "Too many families face uncertainty in the New Year for Congress to get a bonus. Folks expect us to be looking out for them, not ourselves, and we should be working to lower taxes, cut spending, and get our nation's debt under control. Congress should get to work, and I urge the House leadership to do anything and everything possible to stop this pay increase for Members of Congress right away."
Barrow's office explains: "The Executive Order called for a pay increase for Members of Congress and other elected officials of 0.5 percent after March 27, 2013. During tonight's votes, Congressman Barrow will urge his colleagues to sign his letter to House Leadership urging them to bring legislation to the floor to block the pay increase."
Update: It's not just Barrow demanding that President Obama rescind the executive order that grants pay increases to members of Congress, among others. A host of other lawmakers are speaking out and taking action as well:
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., introduced legislation Monday that would rescind the pay raises.
“I am calling on my colleagues in the House and Senate to rescind President Obama’s executive order that gives members of Congress a pay raise," she said in a statement. "This executive order was not requested by Congress and we should reject it. We have a spending problem in our country and we should be looking for areas to cut spending. At a time when families across the country are cutting back we should not increase government spending and add to the debt burden by giving members of Congress a pay raise. We need to begin with ourselves and I urge my colleagues to join me in this effort.”
Republican Sen. Rob Portman said now is not the time for bigger salaries in Washington -- at least not until the country can deal aggressively with its debt and deficit problems.
Yes, this actually happened:
On Monday night's program, after first telling co-host Anderson Cooper "I'm going to tickle your sack," she shortly after midnight actually kissed his crotch [...]:
It’s hard to understand why Kathy Griffin keeps getting invited back to co-host a live New Year’s Eve broadcast when this is not the first time she’s behaved this way.
Griffin's past New Year's Eve antics have included taking her shirt off, dropping the f-bomb and shouting a heckler down. This year, she dropped to her knees and went straight for Anderson Cooper's crotch. […]
Monday night was their sixth year ringing in the New Year together on CNN. Cooper, who is already pretty used to Griffin's New Year's Eve antics, was already giggling nervously ten minutes into the show. That's when Griffin told him, "I'm going to tickle your sac." She continued, "Do you have a sac?"
CNN—the most trusted name in news? Yeah, right.
The Senate voted early Tuesday morning 89-8 in favor of the scaled-down bipartisan package that would halt historic tax hikes for many Americans and postpone automatic spending cuts for two months. The bill will now go to the House, which is expected to be back in session at noon today.
The outlines of the deal Mr. McConnell and Mr. Biden worked out included raising tax rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and families with incomes more than $450,000, and extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. It also continued a number of programs from Mr. Obama’s 2009 stimulus law, including tax credits for college tuition and for green-energy programs.
The deal included no net spending cuts, however, which left conservative Republicans complaining. Meanwhile, liberal Democrats balked at not holding firm on tax increases for families making more than $250,000 — a stance on which Mr. Obama campaigned.
Regardless of their income, all taxpayers will still see at least some tax increases with the expiration of the payroll tax holiday, which was worth about $1,000 to the average family in 2012. […]
The deal on the table late Monday included a patch to prevent millions of taxpayers from being hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax, and also included an extension of full payments to doctors treating Medicare patients.
The tax rate agreement would see the top marginal rate rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent — the rate during the Clinton years — for individuals with incomes more than $400,000 and for households with incomes more than $450,000.
The bill is a far cry from ideal. Earlier in the day, Sen. Mike Lee said that what needs to be kept in mind is that even if a deal happens “we will be leaving intact 99 percent of a dysfunctional system – 99 percent of a tax code that’s unstable - that produces an inconsistent revenue stream and that’s gotten us $16 trillion in debt and has been producing trillion dollar annual deficits.” Lee voted against the bill, as did Republican Sens. Rand Paul, Richard Shelby, Chuck Grassley and Marco Rubio.
The question now is whether the bill can pass the House. Breitbart points out that the deal reached “cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts,” according to the CBO. Commenting on the lopsided ratio, one House Republican said, “I can’t imagine a ratio such as that warming our fiscal hearts.”
It’s official. The United States will go over the cliff tonight—at least for a little while. The House announced they will not hold a late-night vote even if legislation cleared the Senate. Although it’s not confirmed, some sources are pointing to Obama’s ‘attitude and criticism of Congress’ during the press conference/pep rally he held this afternoon as reason for the adjournment.
Earlier today, Sen. McConnell said that he reached an agreement with Vice President Biden on the tax portion of the deal, which calls for individuals making $400,000 and families making $450,000 to see their rates rise to Clinton-era levels. This will put the estate tax rate at 40 percent for inheritances over $5 million. McConnell said that a broader agreement was “very, very close.”
In addition to the issue of tax rates, National Journal outlines what else is in the tentative deal:
· No change on capital gains and dividend tax rates for individuals making less than $400,000. Taxes on capital gains and dividends would be held at their current levels of 15 percent for taxpayers making less than $400,000. They would rise to 20 percent for those above that threshold. For families, the threshold is $450,000.
· PEP and Pease rules for individuals making over $250,000. The Personal Exemption Phaseout and “Pease” deduction cap would reduce exemptions and limit itemized deductions on taxpayers making over $250,000 or families earning over $300,000.
· 40 percent estate tax. The estate tax is set to rise permanently to 40 percent from its current 35 percent level, with the first $5 million in assets exempted. Democrats had earlier sought a higher increase to 45 percent and a lower exemption of $3.5 million.
· Patching the AMT, permanently. The alternative minimum tax was levied to ensure the wealthiest Americans paid a fair share of taxes. It is not indexed for inflation but is usually “patched” annually to prevent an increasingly large swath of middle-class Americans from being caught in its net. The AMT wasn't patched in 2012 but would be patched permanently as part of a fiscal cliff deal.
· Five-year extension of certain tax credits. Specifically, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which can be claimed for college-related expenses; the Child Tax Credit; and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-to-moderate income working Americans.
· Senate Finance Committee tax extender package. The Senate Finance Committee passed a package in August that tackled a variety of routinely expiring tax provisions known as extenders. That package might now pass as part of the broader cliff deal.
· One year extension of fifty-percent bonus depreciation. The provision lets businesses deduct the cost of certain equipment.
Spending cuts, however, will be postponed:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has told GOP colleagues that negotiators have agreed to postpone the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester for two months. […]
McCain said the $24-billion cost of delaying the sequester would be offset by other cuts so as not to add to the deficit, but those details remain unresolved.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he thinks it’s “highly likely” that the Senate will hold a vote this evening.
“This is one of those things that could well go into the early morning by the time it goes to a vote. But I don’t think there’s a thought at present about trying to make this happen tomorrow. I think they’re attempting to get the legislative language in order and vote on it tonight, you know, 1, 2, 3, 4 in the morning, whatever.”
So, should you freak out about going over the ‘cliff’ tonight? Molly Ball over at The Atlantic puts it all in perspective:
Calm down. Yes, the House was headed home late Monday and would not vote on any prospective deal before the dawn of the New Year. Yes, that technically means we'll miss the December 31 deadline and "go over" the "fiscal cliff." But what does that mean? It means tax rates have gone up on the income taxes you don't have to file until April 2014; it means the government is supposed to start gradually implementing some cuts to programs. Both of these automatically-triggered events can be fixed retroactively by a vote in the next couple of days with no material effects. The biggest immediate danger of going over the "cliff" -- which the anti-cliff-alarmists have always preferred to call a "slope" or a "curb" for exactly this reason -- is that it would freak out the stock market. But the markets are closed until Wednesday, and investors aren't likely to panic as long as it's clear a deal is in the works.
Happy New Year!
If you watched Obama’s comments this afternoon you would not be remiss to think it was actually a campaign event. Obama came out, flanked by ‘middle class Americans’ or what Twitchy aptly referred to as a “human rainbow,” and played the blame game all while reminding
Americans Republicans that he won the election. Oh, and the “middle class taxpayers” repeatedly applauding when Obama took shots at Congress for its inaction thus far really helped set the pep rally vibe, too. GOP lawmakers weren’t thrilled with the comments, either:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said President Obama likely lost votes for the deficit-reduction deal because of the “pep rally” he chose to hold Monday.
“I just listened to the president and my heart is still pounding,” Corker said on the floor Monday minutes after Obama called on Congress to finish work on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“I was very disappointed to hear what the president had to say in front of a prep rally," he said. “I know the president has fun heckling Congress, but I think he probably lost a number of votes with this.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he couldn't understand why Obama would mock Republicans in the midst of delicate talks.
"What did the president of the United States just do?" McCain said. "He sent a message of confrontation to Republicans."
"I guess I have to wonder — and I think the American people have to wonder — whether the president really wants this issue resolved, or is it to his short-term political benefit to go over the cliff?"
Campaigner in chief, indeed.
As The Hill’s post goes on to mention, “several Republican operatives” took to Twitter to ask why Obama “would hit the GOP as Vice President Biden and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be closing in on a deal to prevent looming tax hikes and spending cuts set to begin in January.” The talks between Biden and McConnell have resulted in key tax provisions as they continue working on a compromise. National Journal outlines these provisions:
·Income tax rates would go up to Clinton-era rates on individuals making more than $400,000 and families making more than $450,000. The Bush-era tax cuts would be made permanent for everyone under that threshold. Those below the threshold would see a permanent 15 percent capital gains and dividends rate, and those above the rate would pay 20 percent.
·The estate tax would be exempted on the first $5 million, and assets over that amount would be taxed at 40 percent. Current law exempts the first $5 million and taxes the rest at 35 percent, but that expires today and reverts to 55 percent tax rates on assets more than $1 million on Jan. 1.
·A permanent "patch" for the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was meant to make sure millionaires paid their fair share of taxes, but which has increasingly ensnared the middle class.
·A five-year extension on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit.
·Democrats and Republicans are still working on how to prevent across-the-board spending cuts that begin next year.
Two Cheers For the House Republicans: But to Earn Three Cheers They Need to Take this Next Step | Fred J. Eckert