Your Daily Jolt: Kingston suggests short ‘cliff’ dive

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House Thursday with no apparent progress on the fiscal cliff, and things are getting so bad that NBC News’ Chuck Todd on “Morning Joe” — what Washington watches on the treadmill — brought up 1990s literature. Todd said the negotiations are proceeding so poorly that it seems like Obama is from Mars and Boehner is from Venus.

With most everyone shut out of the mano-a-mano discussions, members of Congress are floating ideas. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the Washington Post, is proposing to let the marginal tax rates rise for earnings above $250,000 for a family — but maintain current policy otherwise, including dividend, capital gains and estate taxes. The idea is to end up with a tactical victory for the GOP because this would create far less increased revenue than even Boehner has proposed.

Savannah Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston told the AP’s Chuck Babington that he does not think a deal in early January would be such a bad thing. Here’s what January would look like:

The new landscape would allow President Barack Obama to face his liberal base — and, more importantly, let House Republicans face their conservative constituents — and say in essence: “See, I did the best I possibly could, and it didn’t work. The other side didn’t blink. Now everyone’s taxes have gone up, and it’s time for compromise.”

So long as there is even a day left to negotiate, some hard-liners in both parties will demand that their leaders hold fast. Having the Dec. 31 deadline expire would finally show there’s no more time to negotiate.

A number of lawmakers in both parties say the fiscal cliff could actually become a gentle slope, with the economic impact quickly mitigated under circumstances easier for Republicans to swallow.

“We can do something on the third of January which isn’t unreasonable,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., a 20-year House veteran. “And I think it’ll pass the Senate real quickly.”

***

Mmmm, fried fish.

The new marijuana legalization laws in Washington state and Colorado have presented something of a conundrum for the Obama administration, but the president does not seem too worried. He told ABC’s Barbara Walters that “we’ve got bigger fish to fry” than pot smokers.

Obama told Walters he does not – “at this point” – support widespread legalization of marijuana. But he cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug.

“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

In his younger days in Hawaii, Obama was known to have a toke or two with the “Choom Gang.” Now he realizes drugs are bad.

“There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid,” Obama told Walters. “My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.

“I want to discourage drug use,” he added.

***

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, has fired the “first shot” in support of ethics reform, reports the AJC’s Kristina Torres:

His Senate Resolution 7, filed this week, would ask voters to change the Georgia Constitution with a mandate to fund the state’s ethics commission. In essence, the proposal seeks to create a permanent funding source for Georgia’s watchdog over lobbyists and lawmakers.

The resolution requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass. It does not have the endorsement of Senate leaders, meaning it probably has little chance of becoming law.

Instead, it gives McKoon an opportunity to keep building a case in the General Assembly to change ethics rules governing lawmakers and lobbyists.

***

The big breaking news Thursday afternoon was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrawing her name from consideration for Secretary of State. In a Washington Post op-ed she explains why:

I have never sought in any way, shape or form to mislead the American people. To do so would run counter to my character and my life of public service. But in recent weeks, new lines of attack have been raised to malign my character and my career. Even before I was nominated for any new position, a steady drip of manufactured charges painted a wholly false picture of me. This has interfered increasingly with my work on behalf of the United States at the United Nations and with America’s agenda.

I grew up in Washington, D.C., and I’ve seen plenty of battles over politics and policy. But a national security appointment, much less a potential one, should never be turned into a political football. There are far bigger issues at stake. So I concluded this distraction has to stop.

***

In perhaps the least shocking news of the week, it turns out a $60 billion Senate appropriations package of emergency funding related to Hurricane Sandy has some unrelated goodies tucked in there. Roll Call has the details:

In general, the Senate bill closely resembles the White House’s $60.4 billion request made on Dec. 7, but it adds some new spending not specifically mentioned in the Obama administration’s proposal. Included would be $125 million for a Department of Agriculture watershed program that could help Colorado cope with the aftermath of the summer’s wildfires and $50 million for the National Parks Service’s Historic Preservation Fund. The Sandy bill also would include $150 million for fisheries that have faced recent disasters in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as New England, said Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who had sought this funding to address the marine debris washing up on the coasts of Western states from the Japan earthquake of March 2011.

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

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15 comments Add your comment

Jim Williams

December 14th, 2012
11:16 am

Jump off the cliff. There’s no reason to do anything until after the Republicans crash and burn.

Retired Soldier

December 14th, 2012
11:18 am

Jim-

It takes two to tango and I don’t see Obama on the dance floor.

Founding Father

December 14th, 2012
11:29 am

I would like to throw the current politicians over the cliff and start anew.

Retired Soldier

December 14th, 2012
11:41 am

FF-

Amen, preach on Brother.

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Auntie Christ

December 14th, 2012
11:53 am

Susan Rice should withdraw from consideration. Her lies and dissembling about our nation’s security was disgraceful, with all that talk about WMD and mushroom clouds, misleading us and getting us into a useless, destructive, misbegotten war. She is definitely not Secretary of State material.

Wait a minute. You’re telling me that was CONDOLEEZA Rice that did that, not Susan Rice. Oh well that’s different. Our esteemed mr mccain, graham, mcconnel and the republican party didn’t have a problem with that Ms. Rice and the bald face lies of the bush junta, they just have a problem with Susan Rice because she didn’t say the magic word ‘terrorists’ when she went on TV. Can this bunch of wizened, effete, useless old white men hypocrites known as the republican party become more irrelevant? Why don’t they do the entire nation a favor and just go away, the whole useless, brain dead lot of them.

BRW

December 14th, 2012
12:03 pm

AC-

Amen, preach on Brother.

:)

Retired Soldier

December 14th, 2012
12:10 pm

Auntie-

Then you wouldn’t have them to rail against and that would be sad.

Retired Soldier

December 14th, 2012
12:11 pm

BRW-

Well done.

honested

December 14th, 2012
1:50 pm

retired,
The President should just take the rest of the year off.

After January 1, boehner may wake up enough to see that he best get busy on a middle class tax cut.
Will kingston be ready to play like a grown-up by then?

Retired Soldier

December 14th, 2012
2:19 pm

honested-

What is interesting is why they are so fixed on a rate hike, Obama was in favor of closing loopholes 2 years ago. But given that, the only true solution is drastic budget cuts. We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

BTW, I am sure you have heard a rate hike Obama wants will only fund the federal govt for 8 days. His rate hike isn’t about deficit reduction, it is about class warfare.

Don't Tread

December 14th, 2012
2:50 pm

“How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

Why not do what you did in Arizona, and sue them? (Nevermind that Arizona’s immigration law was a mirror of federal law, with one important distinction – they were intent on enforcing it.)

Or just not enforce the law, which is what prompted Arizona to pass theirs.

Middle of the Road

December 14th, 2012
3:02 pm

“We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”

You are right, Retired Soldier – we spend way too much on the military. Do we spend too much on Medicare? It certainly is not balanced with its income. So do we cut Medicare or do we increase Medicare taxes? Whose mother or father gets less medical care, huh? Do we not allow any MRIs or CT scans after the age of 75? Or maybe no more knee or hip replacements on Medicare? Where do you cut?

If you remove SS and Medicare from the budget (both have dedicated income sources) and then total up all the different spending on defense – it is about 40% of the total. Interest is about 18 %. Medicaid is 12%, welfare is 15%. I certainly believe we need to cut Medicaid and Welfare, but there needs to be a lot more cutting in defense. Either that or decide that we can’t do without it and RAISE TAXES TO COVER IT (and also to pay off our national credit card that we used to buy two wars, Medicare part D and TARP).

Retired Soldier

December 14th, 2012
3:15 pm

Middle-

You raise interesting questions. I’ll be happy to give you my opinion, which is more than either side is doing in Washington.

First it doesn’t matter what parts of the budget you like or don’t like, if we keep spending like we are we will go belly up and all the good stuff you like and all the good stuff I like will all go away.

That said I agree we can cut the military, I have advocated for some time for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. We could in general terns then cut safely 10-15 per cent after deployment costs.

I would means test medicare and social security and delay to say 67. They do have sperate funding sources but our politicans of both parties have spent it. So general revenues will have to be used for the shortfall. Fully restore the payroll savings tax, a cut we can’t afford.

Our credit card was used for far more than two wars by both presidents. What we need is a balanced budget amendment and I would cut agencies like Homeland Security, Education, Energy just to name three.

Big Hat

December 14th, 2012
4:32 pm

Ethics reform…that’s socialism!