Your daily jolt: White House works grassroots to dampen Democratic talk of a ‘fiscal cliff’ leap

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, was one of a dozen or so African-American state lawmakers who gathered at the White House on Tuesday for a briefing on the “fiscal cliff” from President Barack Obama and senior aides.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus/AJC file

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus/AJC file

The 90-minute meeting, including 15 minutes with Obama in the Oval Office, focused on the costs to states if Obama and Congress are unable to come to an agreement on a debt-reduction package – and a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts kick in.

From Smyre’s description, the meeting with the leadership of the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures was intended to encourage core Obama supporters to spread the word and tamp down any Democratic talk that jumping off the cliff isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A few liberals have agreed with Newt Gingrich that the deadline is simply a mirage. Smyre is not among them. Like U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, he believes a deal is necessary before the start of 2013.

“I think it’s a big deal, because the states—we have a limited capacity to absorb the economic pressures of what they do in Washington,” said Smyre, a 38-year veteran of the state Capitol.

Smyre said he specifically sought out information – it will be sent to him – on the impact that automatic tax hikes might have on Georgia’s government.

“Our tax system is linked in so many ways to the federal tax laws. As a result, scheduled tax increase could affect state tax revenue. I’m trying to find out what the magnitude of that direct impact will be,” the former chairman of the Georgia Democratic party said. “I consider it an unknown. We don’t know what the potential increase or decrease in revenue will do.”

***
Tuesday’s stunner in west Georgia could fuel some doubts about the need for runoffs. From Winston Jones and the Times-Georgian in Carroll County:

Mike Dugan won the Carroll County vote by a 3-1 margin and coasted to an easy victory in Tuesday’s District 30 Senate runoff over fellow Republican and former state Rep. Bill Hembree of Winston.

It was a huge comeback for the first-time candidate who trailed Hembree by 24 percentage points in November’s general election.

With all precincts reporting Tuesday night in the three-county district, unofficial returns showed Dugan with 3,606 votes, or 55.79 percent, to Hembree’s 2,857 votes, or 44.21 percent. The voter turnout was only 6.9 percent in the district.

Hembree, the former House Rules Committee chairman, was considered the clear favorite in the special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Bill Hamrick, R-Carrollton, now a Superior Court judge.

We already know that Secretary of State Brian Kemp will present to the state Legislature some changes in how Georgia elections are conducted – federal watchers have expressed concern that runoff elections are held too closely to the original contest for overseas military personnel to participate.

One option is to eliminate runoffs altogether, and this race could become part of that argument.

On Nov. 6, with 56,995 voters participating, Hembree won 48 percent of the vote. In the Tuesday runoff, with 6,385 voters casting ballots, Hembree lost by 709 votes.

If you are an incumbent lawmaker, you might be worried that tea partiers or Libertarians might run several candidates against you, lure you into a runoff – where a highly organized turnout could finish you off.

***
Look for Brandon Beach, the North Fulton County Chamber of Commerce executive, to announce his candidacy today for the state Senate seat vacated by Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, who – only a few weeks after giving up his bid to keep his position as majority leader – has found a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Beach lost to Rogers in a hard-fought July primary. Other names to look for belong to state Reps. Sean Jerguson and Charlice Byrd, both Republicans from Woodstock. Byrd was beaten by Michael Caldwell in the July primary.

***
State lawmakers will gather in Athens this weekend for a biennial conference designed to introduced newly elected rookies to the process. But while there, business will be done. The Senate Republican caucus, for instance, is expected to ratify a power-sharing agreement with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Also, John Crosby, R-Tifton, chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, has called a 1 p.m. Sunday meeting (Room A, 2nd floor of the Georgia Center) to solicit ideas for ethics reform legislation.

***
Every now and then, we’re reminded that, three decades ago, Republicans in Georgia were a radical, over-the-top bunch. A former GOP staffer cleaning out his files recently sent us a campaign flyer authorized by state senator and then-GOP chairman Paul Coverdell of Atlanta, who went on to become a U.S. senator.

qbeflyer

The 1985 propaganda, in fact, was designed to be turned into an envelope addressed to House Speaker Tom Murphy demanding that Democrats who ruled the Capitol take a $350 million surplus and – instead of putting it toward capital improvements – fully meet the state’s obligation to fund public schools in Georgia.

Promise fulfilled, wouldn’t you say? See the complete flyer here and here.

***
On Tuesday, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss were among the Republican senators who discounted a personal appearance by 89-year-old former Senate majority leader Bob Dole and voted to kill a United Nations disabilities treaty. From Roll Call:

Several conservative groups, Glenn Beck and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., opposed the treaty because they said it would allow the U.N. to overreach and impose on the rights of member countries.

The text of the treaty, however, does not seem to support this assertion. Some of the Republicans who voted “aye” on the bill said as much.

“It would take a step toward making it easier for disabled Americans to live and work overseas, without impinging on U.S. sovereignty or Congress’ authority to determine our disability laws,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a rising star in the conservative ranks, said in a statement. “Veterans service groups are especially supportive of the treaty, which would help level the playing field for disabled veterans who are abroad.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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41 comments Add your comment

DannyX

December 5th, 2012
10:33 am

You heard it here first…

Beth Merkleson has moved to Cherokee County and is going to run for Chip’s seat. Beth’s mom has completely recovered so Beth now has the time and energy needed for the job.

Good luck Beth!

Tom

December 5th, 2012
10:38 am

Yup. I hear Beth’s mom has already gotten a job as a kettlebell instructor in Holly Springs.

honested

December 5th, 2012
10:54 am

Let the ‘fiscal cliff’ (AUSTERITY BOMB LAND MINE) jell until after the next Congress is seated.

Renegotiate sanity after the failed bush tax cuts have expired.

Reality

December 5th, 2012
11:39 am

The Bush era tax cuts will end for the most wealthy – one way or another. This means that either the republicans agree to this or we go over the cliff.

The real question is one that the AJC and the republicans refuse to address…. Will the republicans deal a harsh blow to the middle class? This means that the republicans are MORE concerned with the most wealthy compared to the middle class. If they are, then the cliff is fine with them. If they do care about the middle class the the republicans will actually negotiate with President Obama in good faith.

My guess is that the republicans don’t care about the fiscal cliff and will be just fine taking the leap.

Don't Tread

December 5th, 2012
11:40 am

“Our tax system is linked in so many ways to the federal tax laws”

I say unlink them. The less reliant we are on the federal government for anything, the better off we’ll be. Anything from the federal government always has conditions attached to expand their power (this is by design).

GaBlue

December 5th, 2012
11:44 am

“The text of the treaty, however, does not seem to support this assertion.”

This is only relevant to lawmakers who make reality-based decisions. When the primary criteria for any decision is partisanship, facts are not part of the equation.

I wonder if our Senators look at Sen. Dole and see their own futures: once highly respected, now not even worthy of a listen. Picking the wrong crowd to run with is a decision that will bite you in the behind one day.

Douglasville Dude

December 5th, 2012
11:44 am

“If you are an incumbent lawmaker, you might be worried that tea partiers or Libertarians might run several candidates against you, lure you into a runoff – where a highly organized turnout could finish you off.”

Libertarians? Highly organized? I don’t think any incumbent lawmakers are worried about that.

DannyX

December 5th, 2012
12:05 pm

Well, Sen Chambliss does have a history with soldiers that received crippling injuries while serving our country. Welcome to the club Bob.

Puerile Pedant

December 5th, 2012
12:20 pm

Now the GOP opposes helping the disabled with access to buildings, employment and transportation.

Has the Tea Party and moonbats like Glenn Beck got Saxby and Johnny so scared that they cannot consider a treaty on its on merit and have to reflexively reject anything to do with the UN?

You bet it has. C’mon Georgia GOP, grow a spine. Oops, that my require some stem cell research. Stay the spineless blobs that does the bidding of the loonie-bin wing. It makes it easy to not take you seriously.

Kris

December 5th, 2012
12:37 pm

I would love to see GOP fall off the fiscal cliff. We could sell Lottery tickets to choose the seating order.

And anoyher lottery round to see who gwts to push them…(my pick hhhhhhhhh. Big Bird, Elmo, Cokie monster.)

If

If President OBAMA says don’t call my bluff on this, the GOP should head the warning ,after all the GOP caused this and took a bad shellacking in the last race. With 2014 and pee complaining happening..2014 could be the year of the people.

John

December 5th, 2012
1:13 pm

Without runoffs, Georgia likely would have committed a mistake of a lifetime back in 1982 and elected Bo Ginn Governor. Ginn had a similar huge advantage over Joe Frank Harris and everybody else in the Democratic Primary and was endorsed by the other Democratic challengers in the runoff. However, Joe Frank Harris stunned him in the runoff and easily beat Republican Bob Bell in the General Election and went on to a very successful eight years as a Governor. Bo Ginn, on the other hand, had legal and financial problems and Georgia was spared the disaster and embarrassment of him becoming Governor. Runoff voters tend to be more informed and more intelligent–especially more so than those voters who come out of the woodwork in a Presidential General Election and cast uninformed votes in other races because they haven’t paid attention to anything other than television ads of the Presidential candidates. Georgia shouldn’t ever abandon runoffs.

Voter

December 5th, 2012
1:20 pm

There is no “cliff”. hussein obama and media crap. The government needs to stop spending so much.

honested

December 5th, 2012
1:41 pm

Voter,
If you are talking about cutting military expenditures 60%, I’m with you.

Otherwise, not so much.

Reality

December 5th, 2012
1:57 pm

How else can the federal government save money other than military cuts? How about the billions that we give away to other Countries for their “friendship” and “cooperation?”

No one gives the US money for our friendship and cooperation! Why are we paying India and Pakisan millions of dollars? Just so they don’t blow each other off of the map?

This has never made any sense to me….

[...] Galloway reported this morning that Brandon Beach is preparing to make another run for the seat.  Beach challenged Rogers in a [...]

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 5th, 2012
2:05 pm

John

December 5th, 2012
1:13 pm

EXCELLENT POINT!!!!

BSC

December 5th, 2012
2:06 pm

I say left the “cliff” happen….you will then get some of the deadbeats not currently paying taxes to actually have to pay some taxes…..we will then see how happy they are when they find out it’s not only “the rich” (who would have thunk $250k/year = millionaire) who are going to pay for all the profligate spending going on.

Voter

December 5th, 2012
2:15 pm

@Reality-How else can the federal government save money other than military cuts?

Lots of ways. They can stop giving billions to other countries until we are fiscally sound. They can stop the entitlements for non-important functions. They can stop the energy support like Solyndra and others that went bankrupt with 100’s of millions. They can cut their own salaries and perks. GSA is a joke and is wasting millions. It goes on, and on, and on.

WOW

December 5th, 2012
2:22 pm

It was very sad to see Bob Dole personally appealing to Republicans on the Senate floor be denied. John Kerry said it was one of the saddest moments of his Senate career. It was one of the saddest things I have ever seen in Politics and a great example of why they will remain in the minority for a long time.

WOW

December 5th, 2012
2:25 pm

Hembree and others should shut up about runoffs and get their voters out. If the voters of Senate District 30, in which I live, wanted him in office we would have come out and voted for him. While I don’t agree with Mr. Dugan on much politically, having met him he seems like a fine man and will represent our District much better than Hembree ever would have. Atlanta should get used to the fact that one thing Dems and Republicans may agree on right now is the need to get rid of some of these career politicians.

Voter

December 5th, 2012
2:46 pm

@WOW – Sad but doing anything with the U.N. is not a good thing for America.

WOW

December 5th, 2012
2:52 pm

The treaty would have done the opposite, it pushes UN countries to comply with the American’s with Disability’s Act.

Voter

December 5th, 2012
3:35 pm

Like I said doing anything with the U.N. is not a good thing with America, but I will add also other countries. The U.N. is bad for everyone.

Reality

December 5th, 2012
4:15 pm

@voter,

Why did you repeat what I already said? I already posted that we need to stop donating billions to other Countries.

I do fear that the republicans are hell-bent on saving the tax breaks for the most wealthy at any cost. This is what will drive us over the cliff.

From what I have read from President Obama’s budget proposal, he does have sufficient cuts in most all programs, to include those you mention. I encourage you to read it for yourself rather than listen to “interpretations” from FOX news or from any politican.

However, if the republicans refuse to budge on stopping the tax breaks for the most wealthy, the entire US will be driven over the cliff.

An observer

December 5th, 2012
4:30 pm

What Obama wants is more huge deficit spending.

honested

December 5th, 2012
4:42 pm

What President Obama wants is a return to SANE TAXATION POLICIES.

The carrot was “tax cuts will stimulate the economy, create jobs and free up a flowing river of capital investment”.

The stick is “nothing from the carrot happened. We had a balanced budget and a developing surplus. Ten years of unfunded wars and inadequate revenue proved everything promised by trickle down to be a fantasy”.

Supply side is a lie side. Return tax sanity and return America to Prosperity.

Big Hat

December 5th, 2012
5:00 pm

Never underestimate Republican’s capacity to commit murder / suicide, just to show they can.

JMH

December 5th, 2012
5:07 pm

I say either keep all rates the same or let them all rise! This class warfare/wealth envy BS has to stop. Either we all pay more or we don’t! It’s real easy to run up a bill and try and make someone else responsible for it. Look how well that has worked for us.

PS- Don’t give me this the rich paying more crap! I am one of those so called rich people there talking about and with 3 kids and a wife that stays home I am hardly rich.

Nothing in life is free and as soon as you realize that the better off we will all be.

JMH

December 5th, 2012
5:08 pm

Honested – What is your idea of tax sanity?

honested

December 5th, 2012
5:15 pm

Either Clinton era rates with no differentiation for type of income (no special rate for capital gains, dividends or gambling) top marginal rate of 39% or better yet ray-gun era rates of top marginal 43%.

Retired Soldier

December 5th, 2012
5:33 pm

honested-

What you and other libs miss is the real problem. Taxes may or may not be a minor problem. The big problem is the federal government spends to much.

Tell me raising the tax rates will balance the budget and begin to pay off the debt, then I am with you. Until massive spending reductions are made raising tax rates is like spitting in the ocean.

JMH

December 5th, 2012
5:51 pm

Honested- so you are saying you would agree to pay more?

Retired solider has it exactly right. I would certainly be willing to pay more in return for some fiscal sanity but that won’t happen. They aren’t even talking about cuts now; just how the world would be a better place if we could just take a little more money from a small group of people. What a crock this whole situation is. Is there anyone who has any sense involved in these negotiations?

clem

December 5th, 2012
5:54 pm

that dummy rogers just cost his district 500k for special election per tv coverage….nice move there chipper

Whirled Peas

December 5th, 2012
5:57 pm

You know the press is making progress when they stop calling a balanced budget, an austerity budget and begin calling it a balanced budget. You will know the press is making progress when they stop referring to tax increases as revenue increases and begin calling them tax increases. But I am not holding my breath for either in pudgy Galloway’s column. He has never seen a government spending program he does not like.

[...] Your daily jolt: White House works grassroots to dampen Democratic talk of a ‘fiscal cliff’ leap [...]

honested

December 5th, 2012
6:38 pm

JMH,
Of course I am willing to pay more.
I, for one, don’t care if ALL rates return to at least Clinton and preferably ray-gun era rates on all types of income.

As far as cuts, I would like to see military expenditures cut 45-65%. Those who whine about cutting medicare and social security need to realize what a money pit the current military retirement system is. Going forward, a major change is necessary.

Radically increase lease offerings for petroleum and mineral extraction as well as royalties charged.
Massively increase leases for range and timber lands.
Add a transaction fee to all ’securities’ exchanges.

There’s you a start.

RCB

December 5th, 2012
7:58 pm

I think ALL rates should go up, and I mean ALL. Back to the democratic rates of Clinton. The reason the rates worked then was that we had significant welfare reform at the same time. I don’t see that happening this time. We’ll just get the higher rates. If that’s the case, everybody should have more skin in the game. I’m not saying higher earners couldn’t pay more, but I’m real tired of those that earn and pay no federal/state income taxes, mostly through some of these absurd credits.

Voter

December 5th, 2012
10:19 pm

@Reality – I am a free thinker and don’t listen and repeat what news says. I have read hussein’s proposal. He increases spending, when we should be decreasing spending. Government is the problem.

Voter

December 5th, 2012
10:21 pm

@RCB & @honested – Clinton’s policies had nothing to do with the 90’s and the economy then. His policies did not go into effect til he was at the end of his 2nd term. The economy was the result of 12 years of Reaganomics.

Race To Replace Chip Rogers Shaping Up

December 5th, 2012
10:33 pm

[...] Galloway reported this morning that Brandon Beach is preparing to make another run for the seat.  Beach challenged Rogers in a [...]

honested

December 5th, 2012
11:25 pm

voter,
You should study history.
Denying reality only works on faux newz.
ray-guns ‘accomplishments’ certainly had nothing to do with long term economic improvement.
Don’t believe me? Graph the period from 1976-2008, even you will have to accept the reality.