With Christmas one week from today, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner appear to be nearing a fiscal cliff deal. Some details from the Associated Press:
[Obama offered] to drop his long-held insistence that taxes rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. He is now offering a new threshold of $400,000 and lowering his 10-year tax revenue goals from the $1.6 trillion he had argued for a few weeks ago.Obama’s move follows concessions by Boehner on higher tax rates for the wealthy.
In the new proposal, Obama abandoned his demand for permanent borrowing authority. Instead, he is now asking for a new debt limit that would last two years, putting its renewal beyond the politics of a 2014 midterm election.
And in a move sure to create heartburn among some congressional Democrats, Obama is proposing lower cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, employing an inflation index that would have far-reaching consequences, including pushing more people into higher income tax brackets.
Those changes, as well as Obama’s decision not to seek an extension of a temporary payroll tax cut, would force higher tax payments on the middle class, a wide swath of the population that Obama has repeatedly said he wanted to protect from tax increases.
As public posturing has given way to pragmatism, both sides still seem willing to lock in on a substantial agreement rather than just putting off a fiscal day of reckoning.
Boehner updates his caucus on negotiations this morning, and the rank-and-file reaction will be important to watch. Buzzfeed maps out two scenarios on a way forward.
Republican aides said the next 24 hours will be “critical” to the direction of talks to avert the nation’s looming austerity crisis, determining whether Boehner and Obama will reach a grand bargain or punt on most decisions until next year.
The latter option, which would require a simple extension of current law, could be cobbled together quickly and agreed to as late as Christmas Eve with enough time to approve it before Christmas. White House aides have refused to set a timeline on the negotiations.
But a sweeping compromise would require more time before a vote: Congressional leaders would need to craft a denser piece of legislation, and securing the votes to pass a major compromise would be a more intensive process. Such a package would also include the types of details, such as a tax hikes, that would be unpalatable to some Republicans and could carve fault lines within the conference.
And the Washington Post reports this morning that Boehner is proposing holding a “Plan B” vote on raising taxes on only income over $1 million.
Speaking of tax hikes, Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss has been trying hard to avoid the label of a tax-hiker lately. On Monday he reiterated his desire to think beyond how much revenue a cap in deductions would bring and what would violate the Grover Norquist pledge. He teamed up with Lawrenceville Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall to ask for an estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation on how much revenue the Fair Tax — a 23 percent national sales tax that replaces rest of the tax code — would bring in.
From the letter: “Americans have long been calling for fundamental tax reform and it appears that Congress is finally poised to address the issue in a comprehensive fashion.”
If you have not read Michelle Shaw’s excellent obit of Jesse Hill Jr. in today’s AJC, you should:
In a period of historic ferment over civil rights and the changing dynamics of Atlanta, Hill showed uncommon leadership. He helped finance and advise civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; served as confidant to the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson; and tackled assignments as diverse as the launch of MARTA and the integration of the Atlanta public schools and the University of Georgia. He played an especially important role in forging understanding and alliances between local black and white leaders.
More than one Atlanta mover, shaker or news reporter awakened to a 6 a.m. phone call and the greeting, “This is Jesse Hill. … I was just thinking about something ….” Before the bleary-eyed person could clear his head and become indignant, Hill would have him wading through some big issue of the day.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, had this to say about Hill in a release:
During the past 50 years, very little progress has been made in Atlanta without the involvement of Jesse Hill. He was a very successful business man, and he used his position as the CEO of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company to get things done, not just to position himself, but to advance the causes of equality, social justice, and humane business practice for all of the people of the city. He envisioned Atlanta as a cornerstone in the South of a transformed and renewed America. And he did more than dream, but he worked to make that vision a reality.
The U.S. Senate saw some historic turnover Monday. First South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to the seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. Scott will be the only black senator currently in the chamber and the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.
Later Monday U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, died at 88. The Appropriations Chairman had represented Hawaii in Congress since it became a state. Roll Call reported that Inouye asked for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to replace him.
- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider