As the country’s tryptophan high wears off, the sobering debate over the fiscal cliff begins. From the Associated Press:
White House economists warned Monday that the uncertainty of a potential hike in taxes next year for middle class taxpayers under the looming fiscal cliff could hurt consumer confidence during the crucial holiday shopping season.
In a new report that coincides with Congress’ return after the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House says that if lawmakers don’t halt the automatic increase in taxes for households earning less than $250,000, consumers might even curtail their shopping during the current holiday season.
“As we approach the holiday season, which accounts for close to one-fifth of industry sales, retailers can’t afford the threat of tax increases on middle-class families,” the report says.
The study by President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and his Council of Economic Advisers also says a sudden increase in taxes for middle-income taxpayers would reduce consumer spending in 2013 by nearly $200 billion, significantly slowing the economic recovery.
On separate Sunday TV talk shows, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) sided with U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss when it came to Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. From the Boston Globe:
‘‘I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates, but I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt,’’ Graham said on ABC’s ‘‘This Week.’’
“I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform,’’ Graham said. But he made clear that he remained opposed to raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, something President Obama and congressional Democrats favor….
King, who has also signed the pledge, said he agreed that changing times and a different economic climate justify a new approach. The New York representative said that while he opposes tax increases, he does not advocate taking ‘‘ironclad positions’’ during the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on the nation’s fiscal issues. ‘‘A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,’’ King said on NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press.’’
Vocabulary is one measure of how far the debate over federal spending and taxation has progressed. The need to increase federal revenue is now an accepted fact, according to U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville. Via the Gwinnett Post:
“The president has done a great job of convincing America that this ‘fiscal cliff’ is a debate about increasing tax revenue. It’s not — everyone agrees that revenue has to go up. The president has taxpayers that he wants to punish and others that he wants to reward, and that’s bad tax policy,” Woodall said. “While that may be good politics, it is bad policy and Congress will absolutely fight him on it. But when it comes to the need to raise federal revenue from its anemic levels of this recession, we all — Democrats and Republicans — recognize that we need to.”
Walter Jones of Morris News Service takes a look at the revolution quietly endorsed by the state utility commission last week:
What happened is the Georgia Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to endorse efforts by a start-up company to overturn a law, the Territorial Act, that has divided the state for four decades into geographic monopolies for 94 utilities run by cities, rural cooperatives and the giant Georgia Power Co.
The upstart, Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., seeks its own monopoly as a generator of solar power with permission to sell to retail customers. Since it can’t produce electricity when the sun isn’t shining, it would always be dependent on other utilities for supplemental power as well as for transmission, billing and customer support.
The commission vote doesn’t guarantee General Assembly agreement, but it does provide a push.
In the Washington Post, Doug Blackmon writes of the Republican party’s crumbling Southern Strategy:
Obama won Virginia and Florida and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina. But he also polled as well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those states.
…In the region’s center, clustered along the Mississippi River — where Bill Clinton polled most strongly — the GOP remains largely unchallenged and the voting divide between blacks and whites is deepening. Nearly nine of 10 of white voters in Mississippi, for instance, went for Republican nominee Mitt Romney this year, according to exit polls. About 96 percent of black voters in the state supported Obama.
The pattern is markedly different in the five states that hug the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida, which together hold 82 of the South’s 160 electoral votes. A combination of a growing black population, urban expansion, oceanfront development and in-migration from other regions has opened up increasing opportunities for Democrats in those states.
“Georgia is an achievable target for Democrats in 2016,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a frequent Obama surrogate during the campaign. “What you’re going to see is the Democratic Party making a drive through the geography from Virginia to Florida.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider