Democrats in the US Senate have put forward a budget. The proposal, which contrast to one submitted by the House Republicans, was brought by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash. The plan calls for a 2% cut in spending over 10 years and new revenue of $975 billion over 10 years from, closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code for those who need it the least”.
Although each plan is expected to pass along party lines some time next week, the path to reconciling the two budget plans remains unclear. For instance, the Republican plan calls for a repeal of the 2010 health care law, something that the Senate and the President are unlikely to support.
The positive aspect of this week is that there are now two (polarized) budgets that put the starting positions of the two parties on the table. Much of what is in each plan is for show, negotiation and politics. The path towards reconciliation has at least been started.
President Obama met Friday with congressional leaders in a last ditch effort to forge an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. Obama asked senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to negotiate a bipartisan proposal to forward to the House. Failing that, the President indicated that he wants a vote in the House on an existing proposal protecting taxes for people making under $250,000 per year.
The Senate bill is expected to go before the House Sunday night, when representatives return to Washington.
President Obama has dispatched Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to deliver a tax proposal to the Capitol. The plan provides details for adding roughly $1.6 trillion worth of new taxes and is consistent with Democratic goals of raise rates on the wealthiest Americans. With little concession provided to Republican demands, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a swift rejection of the proposal. Republicans also rejected Obama’s proposal to avoid raising taxes on 98% of households during negotiations. With the “fiscal cliff” looming at the end of the year, a $2,200 tax hike for all Americans looms if no deal is struck. With the proposal tabled, the pressure is increasingly rising for a detailed Republican response.
The proposal also called for rules that allow the President to increase the debt ceiling in the absence of a two-thirds vote of disapproval. This is an extension of powers temporarily enacted in 2011 and hint at the fight coming in the new year when the debt ceiling must be addressed once again.
Democrats, emboldened by their perceived strength have taken their case to the public. On Twitter, Obama’s account posted the following:
“Most families could save up to $2,200 if Congress extends middle class tax cuts. Use #My2k to share what that would mean for you.”
Responses came quickly:
“Saving my family $2,200 would help to feed, diaper, and clothe our six-month old daughter, especially during both of our transitions in to finishing our Masters program.”
“#My2K will fill the gap of deductibles & expenses for treatment of a genetically inherited disease my retiree medical plan doesn’t cover.”
- Wheelman, North Carolina
“#My2k would help in the traveling cost for me and my family to go to fort bliss to see my older brother before he deploys for Afghanistan”
-Jake Zaffuto, Pittsburgh
“#My2k for my family? That’s 6 months of gas to be productive to this society. We hurt like millions of others. #My2k makes HUGE difference!”
-Ron Middlekauff, Sacramento
“#my2k will probably mean the down payment on my girlfriend’s engagement ring. Don’t tell her! #shedoesntusetwitter”
- Aaron Campbell
Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech in Chicago and embarks on a second term as President of the United States. The tone of the speech was clearly conciliatory, and Obama now begins a period of negotiation with Congress on some of the most important budget issues faced in years.
“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.”
Like all acceptance speeches, Obama laid out a positive vision for the next four years, inviting both parties to work together towards a shared future. Proud of his accomplishments, Obama vowed to get back to the People’s work.
“Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.”
A report released by the Congressional Research Service has stirred up a controversy. The report examined linkages between tax reduction for the wealthy to measures of economic growth. The author, Mr. Thomas Hungerford states:
“Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth”
Republicans such as Mitch McConnell charged that the report was colored by politics and Colleen Shogan, the CRS deputy director, had the report removed from the CRS website until study design issues had been addressed in a future draft. This report is clearly at odds with Mitt Romneys platform and raises questions about inappropriate political pressure on the CRS by the GOP. Whether the report was at all driven by political bias is also a question that will be considered by congress.
By: Jocelyn Noveck
Licensed from: The Canadian Press
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Big Bird, binders and … bayonets! Well, at last we know the three Twitter memes of the debate season – and they all start with ‘B.’
But beyond President Barack Obama’s ‘bayonet’ zinger – more on that in a moment – the final presidential debate was notable for how the two candidates, in ways verbal and nonverbal, switched roles in a sense from their first debate. This time, political communication analysts say, Mitt Romney seemed more passive and defensive, and Obama more forceful and in command.
And speaking of that word “command,” the president was eager to use it whenever he could – to show how he and only he had the policies, temperament and experience for the top job. “As commander in chief .. ” Obama began more than one answer.
Did his tactics work? Some impressions from the third and last presidential debate, from analysts of political communication and body language:
PLAYING TO WIN, OR FOR A DRAW
Let’s get the sports analogies over with: Some analysts focused on how Romney was playing it safe this time – or “playing for a draw,” in the words of Jonathan Paul, director of debate at Georgetown University. “That seemed to be his strategy in the questions of foreign policy.” In other words, first make no mistakes.
“Romney’s purpose was not to lose,” said Jerry Shuster, who teaches political communication at the University of Pittsburgh. “He was underplaying, almost demure. Attack was not part of his strategy.” Analysts noted, though, that this may have been the least risky strategy when dealing with issues of foreign policy.
As for Obama, he knew he had to come appearing presidential and leader-like, and he did so, Shuster said: “He came prepared to be presidential and prepared to win.”
THE GREAT P IVOT
Call it the great pivot: Romney managed to veer the conversation a number of times to domestic issues, an area where he had more definitive things to say.
“You could tell he didn’t want this debate to be about foreign policy – he wanted it to be about jobs and China,” Paul said.
But did it work? It probably depended on who was listening. “I call it deviation, rather than a pivot,” Shuster said.
The difference on Monday night, added Paul, was that as opposed to the first debate, Obama was better prepared to answer those domestic questions.
BODY LANGUAGE: NO MORE BOXING, A LITTLE SWEAT
What happened to the boxing match (sorry, another sports analogy) that was the second presidential debate?
Thanks mostly to the change in format – the second debate was a town-hall style meeting, whereas on Monday night the candidates were seated at a small desk – the debate was a lot less physical. You didn’t see a lot of personal space violations
There was also less room for the interruptions, on both sides, that bothered some viewers in the second debate.
But even though the two men were sitting down and close to each other, there was some fodder for body language experts like Lillian Glass, a body language coach in Los Angeles.
“Romney was definitely nervous,” Glass said. “He was sweating on his upper lip. That’s the nervous system kicking in.”
However, Glass liked the body language that Romney exhibited later in the debate, a back-straight posture that she termed “powerful.”
“They both were at the top of the game,” she said. “It was a draw. They both get As.”
Most analysts, though, felt Obama was more successful than his opponent in getting across the message he needed to: that he was the presidential one. Facial expressions reinforced that.
“Romney seemed to frown a lot,” Glass said.
As for Obama, “The president made good eye contact, bal ancing it between his opponent and the moderator,” Shuster said. “He also maintained a steady gaze, as if to say, ‘What I am saying is on target.’” Shuster saw Romney’s expression as more a grin than a frown or a smirk, as some called it – albeit a very uneasy grin.
“He had that grin when he listened to Obama, which to me said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to say in response to this,’” Shuster said.
I AGREE, PART TWO:
The responses Romney did give were problematic for him on another level, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of political communication at the University of Pennsylvania. While Obama got flak in Denver for nodding in agreement with his opponent, this time it was Romney who found himself agreeing with a number of Obama’s pronouncements on foreign policy.
“You can’t indict someone for a foreign policy you basically agree with,” Jamieson said. And that was compounded by Romney’s apparent reluctance to rebut a number of Obama’s critici sms, she said.
“The danger for Romney is that he didn’t respond to charges that he’s inconsistent,” Jamieson said. “He didn’t specifically rebut much of anything.”
Romney’s moderate responses did have one big advantage, Jamieson added: They probably helped reverse the perception among some that he would be more likely to bring the country to war. She says a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania has indicated that perception is a vulnerability for Romney.
Humour VS SNARK: THE BAYONET MOMENT
Who knew that Big Bird would have a moment this election season? And wasn’t it even weirder when it was binders, that essential school supply, that emerged in the sunlight?
This time it was bayonets, after an Obama comment that was the most tweeted all evening and is probably just in the early stages of its pop-culture shelf life. When Romney repeated his criticism that the U.S. Navy is too small and has fewer ships th an it did in 1916, Obama was ready:
“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets,” Obama said, painting Romney as out of touch. “We have these things called ‘aircraft carriers’, and planes land on them.”
Was it snark, or simply a clever use of humour?
“I thought it was very effective – one of his best moments,” said Paul, the Georgetown debate coach.
Shuster, at the University of Pittsburgh, said the best thing about the remark was how it illustrated, pithily, the president’s view on military spending – one of the few foreign policy areas on which the candidates have real disagreements.
DOES IT ALL MATTER?
Now the existential question: Does any of it matter to the election results?
Pundits universally declared Romney the winner of the first debate, and Obama the winner, albeit by a much narrower margin, of the second. The president was perceived by many to have won the third, but perhaps a tweet from Larry Sabato, directo r of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said it best.
“Glancing down Twitter,” he tweeted. “Shocker: All D’s think O won, all R’s think R won.”