Short-Term “Fiscal Cliff” Fix Goes To House; Bennet Votes No

UPDATE 9:00PM: House passes Taxpayer Relief Act 257-167. In the Colorado delegation the vote is party line, all Democrats voting in favor, all Republicans voting against.

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UPDATE #2: Just when you thought it was safe to exhale, FOX 31′s Eli Stokols:

After House Republicans caucused Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, the second-ranking member of the caucus, stated he was opposing the bill, the first big sign that the Senate compromise may be in serious trouble.

Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, a close confidant of Cantor’s, also confirmed that he’ll oppose the legislation as it’s currently written.

“But [Gardner] will consider an amendment that meets the test of cutting spending, growing the economy (through responsible tax policy) and not burdening an ever growing deficit,” Rachel George, Gardner’s spokeswoman, told FOX31 Denver in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The very latest word is that a vote will be held tonight on an unmodified version of the deal passed by the Senate early this morning. It should then pass, with support of Democrats and some number of moderate Republicans in favor. We’ll update when and if that happens.

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UPDATE: Politico’s Seung Min Kim has more from dissenting Sen. Michael Bennet:

“While I do support many of the items in this proposal – for example, extending unemployment insurance, the wind production tax credit and tax cuts for most Americans – I believe they should have come in the context of a comprehensive deficit reduction package,” Bennet said. “Without a serious mechanism to reduce the debt, I cannot support this bill.”

“Putting the country on a sustainable fiscal path and bringing our debt under control is incredibly important to our economy and our standing in the world and is a top priority for me,” Bennet continued. “I remain committed to continue working with any Republican or Democrat willing to address this problem in a serious way. Colorado’s kids deserve no less.”

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Los Angeles Times:

After a rare holiday session that lasted through the New Year’s Eve celebration and two hours into New Year’s Day, senators voted 89-8 to approve the proposal. Three Democrats and five Republicans dissented, most prominently Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“It took an imperfect solution to prevent our constituents from very real financial pain,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)  said before the vote. “This shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here. But I think we can say we’ve done some good for the country.”

President Obama, in a statement released by the White House early Tuesday morning, said, “While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay.”

One of those three dissenting Democrats was Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado:

In addition to Rubio, the dissenters to the deal in the Senate were Democrats Tom Harkin (Iowa), Thomas R. Carper (Del.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Republicans Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.).

CNN has a statement from Sen. Bennet:

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, is the incoming chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the group tasked with electing Democrats to the upper chamber. He created his own plan to avert the fiscal cliff in November alongside Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (who voted for the compromise measure early Tuesday).

He wrote in a statement Tuesday: “Washington once again has lived up to its reputation as the ‘Land of Flickering Lights.’ For four years in my townhall meetings across the state Coloradans have told me they want a plan that materially reduces the deficit. This proposal does not meet that standard and does not put in place a real process to reduce the debt down the road.”

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa also voted against the deal, calling it “grossly unfair” to the middle class after the ceiling on income remaining eligible for the Bush tax cuts was raised to accomodate Republicans. It’s possible Bennet’s objection is similarly progressive in nature, but we’ll have to see more details than this brief statement to know for sure.

Poltico reports the deal is off to the House, sped by its overwhelming bipartisan passage in the Senate. Despite the Senate vote, a number of conservative House Republicans have already come out against the measure, meaning it will likely pass only with the help of the Democratic minority–which could force Speaker John Boehner to abandon his standing rule that bills should only come to a vote with the support of “the majority of the majority.”

Although Republican leaders have been non-committal about when the bill will come to the floor, and whether it will be amended, there could be implications if a vote slips to Wednesday. Financial markets are closed Tuesday for New Year’s Day, and reopen Wednesday. If the Senate bill isn’t signed into law, that could shake market confidence.

For the time being, Congress has sent the nation over the fiscal cliff. The Senate passed its bill after 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, so over the cliff the country went – though perhaps for only a day or two and, assuming no snags, without incurring the double whammy of another recession and higher unemployment.

The $620 billion agreement was a major breakthrough in a partisan standoff that has dragged on for months, spooking Wall Street and threatening to hobble the economic recovery. It turned back the GOP’s two-decade-long refusal to raise tax rates, delivering a major win for President Barack Obama, who has said he would sign this legislation.

We’ll update when the House takes action (or not).

72 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Sir RobinSir Robin says:

    David Atkins nails it:

    It doesn’t matter that Americans in general blame Republicans for the fiscal cliff mess far more than Democrats. What matters is that in the vast majority of Republican districts they’re considered heroes for standing up to the evil President, while the few sane or vulnerable ones in the House GOP caucus have no power. So why would they compromise? Why would they buckle? Their voters don’t want them to, and any retreat would only mean a potential challenge from the right. Most of them aren’t the least bit afraid of a Democratic opponent in 2014.

    This is what makes the poker analogy so often used to criticize the President’s negotiating tactics such a weak metaphor. Obama is often said to be the worst poker player in history, consistently bluffing then folding. But the problem with that analogy is that Republican House members aren’t playing with their own chips: they’re playing with the country’s. The Republican electoral chips are stashed safely in gerrymandered hands, and any losses over fiscal cliffs or debt ceilings only hurt the President and the nation’s perception of government. There’s no downside for the GOP in bluffing every time in the hopes that the President will fold. Why not? When you’re playing with house money, it makes sense to go all in on every hand.

    None of this is to say that the President shouldn’t be a tougher and more progressive negotiator. He should be.

    But no one should delude themselves into believing that if he were, the Republicans would be intimidated and stand down. Quite the contrary. We are in uncharted waters, an era unprecedented since the Civil War in which one side is willing to let the country burn down in order to achieve its goals.

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

  2. Bad stuff:

    1. Crappy capital gains rates, permanently locked in. If they were serious about the debt they’d have eliminated capital gains as a special rate. And the negotiated rate is lower than what it would have been going over the cliff.
    2. Permanent lock-in on the tax rate for those making <$400,000. If this bill were to get a CBO mark-up, it would be an atrocious deal for our country’s debt.
    3. The payroll tax holiday is over, with no replacement. Your SSDI taxes will be higher this year, costing regular workers 2% of their income (and self-employed workers 4% IIRC…).
    4. Sequester deal is extended 2 months. Coincidentally (not!), this is when the debt ceiling is going to start hurting.

    Good Stuff:

    1. Unemployment taxes extended for a year.
    2. Various business tax credits extended for a year. This is a mixed bag, but overall probably good, as these temporary tax credits were more skewed toward current needs than long-term credits.
    3. 9-month Farm Bill extension
    4. One year Medicare doc fix.
    5. One year extension on various low-income tax credits
    6. Re-enstatement of the personal exemption and itemized deduction phase-outs for the rich. These would have happened under the cliff, but they’re at least a partial offset on the higher threshold for taxes on the rich.

    I am still doubtful that this will get past the House. It contains the same $400,000 threshold that Plan B failed to get past House members, plus extensions on a number of progressive measures I’m guessing various House members won’t want to pass.

  3. botw says:

    There are sound reasons to vote against this deal, but worrying about deficit reduction isn’t one of them.

    Keynes says now is not at all the right time to be concerned about deficits.  The bond markets aren’t concerned about deficits; interest rates cannot be lower.  People all around the country are hurting and needing jobs and government support.

    Of all the reasons to vote against this deal — a two-month extension on the sequester, nothing on the debt ceiling, not to mention the process — deficit reduction just isn’t one of them.

  4. House Republicans, led by Majority Whip Eric Cantor, have said that they are set on amending the Senate bill to include spending cuts (no mention so far as to what those cuts might be, but if they don’t include social safety net programs I’d be shocked).

    The Senate has said that it will not consider amendments to the bill; according to one aide: “we’re done.”

  5. caroman says:

    He says he didn’t vote for the bill because it doesn’t materially reduce the debt.  So, does that mean he wanted more tax revenue (e.g., tax rate hikes on over $250k taxable income, higher capital gains rates, lower estate tax exemption, etc.)?  Or, does that mean he wants spending cuts (e.g., defense spending, Social Security and Medicare reform, domestic spending cuts)?  More of everything?

    We deserve a more detailed explanation from Senator Bennet why he voted against this measure.  Particularly since his budget partner, Senator Alexander voted for the measure.

  6. caroman says:

    Two things are certain at this hour:

    1) Payroll taxes on individuals making up to $113,700 are going up 2% starting today.  That’s $1,000 less change in your pocket if you make $50,000 per year.  Now, I wasn’t a fan of this type of tax relief — it inappropriately tied tax relief to Social Security, a dangerous concept.  Instead, why not reinstitute the Making Work Pay credit?  Bottom line: the middle class and working poor are paying higher taxes today.  I didn’t hear Senator Bennet (or anyone else) complain about that.

    2) Be prepared for a stock market collapse tomorrow assuming the House GOP spikes the Senate bill. Thanks a lot to my Rep. Coffman. A-hole.

  7. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    I think he put country over party in calling for a vote tonight. Yes he tried to get what he wanted. Yes he tried to avoid having it come down to this. Yes he punted to the Senate.

    But when it came down to no time left and his own party lacking a majority, he took it forward.

  8. ModerateGal says:

    Chuck Todd, on Sunday’s Meet the Press, referred to Congress as “uniquely atrocious,” when discussing the dysfunction of previous Congress. It’s my new favorite phrase. #UniquelyAtrocious

  9. lyjtrpcnf says:

    I’ll bet you a coke/beer that if the deal is rejected the country won’t burn down.  

  10. Without a fiscal cliff deal, it is projected that the country will fall back into a deep recession. And that’s just the fiscal cliff. We also have the debt ceiling limit, which Republicans have already demonstrated is a tool by which they can force Democrats to take action on Republican terms – or allow the country’s debt rating to fall.

    Republicans in the Senate have created such a backlog of federal judges that most of the districts in the country are critically short on judges to hear cases.

    On issue after issue, today’s Republican Party has proven that it’s willing to say “fuck the country – give us what we want!”

  11. raymond1 says:

    Obviously permanent would be better, but any non-short extension is a big deal because the EITC has had no longstanding, consistent existence: Clinton initiated it in 1993; I think the Rs killed it later in the 90s; and Obama brought it back in his 1st term. The EITC, by giving a refundable “matching payment” for low-wage work, is a big, big deal — both for fairness and for making low-wage work pay.

  12. The permanent tax rates are making Grover Norquist at least a bit happy.

  13. VanDammerVanDammer says:

    just look at your “good stuff” and tell me WTF is gonna happen in 9 mos – 12 mos.  Same shit all over again.  

    This is the GOPer game — keep at this endless stream of delays, offsets, extensions and crap.  Keep O coming back to beg again & again.  Keep the pressure constant and from all angles.  Make every friggin’ thing a fight.  Wear down the constituency and overwhelm the dailies with this constant sandbagging against progress.

    O floats Susan Rice (with never a fuckin’ nom) and the fight got meaner than a Lohan at an open bar.  Fuxsake, I think they were still counting ballots in FL when McCain & Graham started in on Rice.  

    I’m stupid enough to want Obama to grow a pair and show ‘em off.  He cannot wait until the ’14 midterms to start pissing in their punchbowls.

  14. There’s no responsible reason for trading away the revenue we need to get our budget a bit more under control when those tax cuts aren’t useful to the recovery.

    Whether the stuff we got in trade makes this a responsible vote is questionable, but at least debatable.

  15. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    You see the elements in this bill as items to trade for effective long term deficit reduction. I don’t trust Senator Bennet but I think he makes a fair point on this issue – if he’s talking long term (and is open to short term stimulus).

  16. All of the low-income tax credits were extended for 5 years. This is, as you say, a big deal – and one of the reasons I’m doubting whether the Republicans will vote for it in the House.

    There’s also a permanent Alternative Minimum Tax fix which will be good for middle income earners.

  17. lyjtrpcnf says:

    without the deal.  The question is whether the country will have permanently slower economic growth if we keep having federal spending growth.  My contention is that it will, and because this deal doesn’t reign in spending it is not worth the imprimatur of GOP support.  

    Additionally, you mentioned a very salient issue: the backlog of unfilled federal judge spots.  A little background though elucidates on why your point is 180 degrees wrong: the federal judge fights really started when Bork got “Borked” by Ted Kennedy in one of the worst character assassinations in US political history.  Later the Dems killed other GOP nominees (like the eminently qualified Miquel Estrada).   The GOP of course retaliated.  

    As long as the Dems continue to force every nominee to go along (or keep silent) with (on) the flawed notion that the line of Roe v. Wade caselaw (and Lochner) is constitutionally mandated you are going to have tremendous fights on any Article III nomination (district/circuit/and especially SCOTUS).  The solution is to get people who firmly reject the living constitution heresy on the bench.  

  18. but not really worth much when weighed against economist opinions.

    Federal spending growth isn’t really the problem, though, is it? After all, government spending is still part of the economy. No, the Federal debt is what really concerns economists re: growth. But acknowledging that means adding taxes to the discussion.

    And most economists don’t even consider deficit spending to be the major problem right now: when in a recession (or just on the recovery side of one), government spending (regardless of debt) accelerates economic growth and recovery.

  19. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    “Borking” didn’t begin with Bork.  I can remember when Neb. Sen. Carl Curtis staunchly defended a Nixon court nominee — was it Haynsworth? — with the plaintive plea that mediocrities deserved to sit on the court because mediocre people needed representation too!

      Of course, by your beliefs, slavery should still be practiced because that was the original intent of the Constitution.  And birth control should be outlawed, dammit, as it was before that commie Griswold v. Conn let the women out of the kitchen and gave them shoes when The original intent was to keep them barefoot and pregnant.

      And states should be allowed official state religions, because the First Amendment only prohibited the federal government from establishing a religion (several states did indeed have state religions before that commie liberal 14th amendment.   And wimmin shouldn’t vote, dammit!  And state legislatures should appoint U.S. Senators.

      If I’ve left out any dumbass right-wing ideas, plese feel free to add them.

  20. Saying that Bork was the beginning of the problem is overstating the importance of that debate. Other judges before him had failed to gain the nod, and Bork had many reasons for which Democrats felt he was a poor choice for the court. Bork was responsible for the illegal “Saturday Night Massacre” action; he was in favor of poll taxes; and he was against the expansive reading of the 14th Amendment that gave civil rights laws their teeth.

    As for the “living constitution heresy”, you can thank the first Supreme Court for that notion – it’s been around far longer than any of us have.

    The GOP response isn’t (AFAICT) one of retaliation – it’s one of control. If Republicans can keep the benches empty until they’re in control of the nominations, then they get a disproportionate number of seats on the courts. This is currently the case, thanks to the Clinton-era stonewalling, and it’s becoming a judicial crisis.

  21. rocco says:

    Revenue is the life blood of any business OR government.

    The Norquit idiocy has been proven to be absolutely assinine in intent as well as execution.

    copperhead politicians go along and sign pledges to the starve the beast grift because they can’t get elected to posh pinko district Congressional seats unless they either believe the austerity gambit OR they pretend they do.

    The kochs, walmart, the nra etc. fund norquist, and norquist blackmails willing redleg pols into wrecking the nation’s economy to feed the ultra rich.

    Proof is simple.

    cantor wants spending cut put into the deal today that would increase the deficit by 4.6 trillion over the next ten years, but protecting the top 1% from paying their way.

    If the red house fails to BRING THE SENATE VERSION TO A VOTE, cantor and boehner tip their hand that they are being ordered by a very small group of people to fail to do the peoples’ will.

    If boehnor and cantor actually think it is “unrepublican”, take a chance and see where the vote comes out.

    Not being rude to you, but how are you missing this?

    I think this current bastardization of the republican party is different than the party you are blindly supporting.

     

  22. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    And if senior citizens on medicare and social security ain’t the beast, then John of Patmos didn’t write revelations.

  23. lyjtrpcnf says:

    The guy went off the partisan deep end once he got the times gig.

    Economists agree that government spending crowds out the private sector spending.  And they also agree that we need to get our spending under control.  This deal simply did not do that.  In fact, spending INCREASES under the deal.  

    http://www.washingtontimes.com

    So, sure, if you want this for partisan reasons just say so.  Or if you want temporary spending increases to be offset by much larger longterm spending cuts (due to your Keynsian desire to artificially goose the economy in a time of recession)  that would be an option too.  Just don’t go off pretending that this deal is economically responsible.  Because it isn’t.  

  24. lyjtrpcnf says:

    Because original intent at signing is trumped when there is a federal constitutional amendment validly enacted on point.  Here such an amendment exists: the 13th amendment.  

    And getting to Griswold – even the liberal lion (former Columbia and then Stanford law prof until his death) Gerald Gunther paired the case with Lochner.  If you want to say Griswold is ok under substantive due process then why was the court wrong to strike down wage/hour/minimum wage laws under a “freedom to contract” pre-New Deal under…..wait for it….SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS?  If you want your Griswold, you need to accept that Lochner was correctly decided to be ideologically consistent.

    As for woman voting and senate elections, once again, amendments are on point, so you need to read the original intent of THOSE AMENDMENTS, not the original constitution.

  25. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Which comes down to medical and military inflation rates.

  26. Krugman is a Nobel winning economist. His Nobel prize was for exactly the theory that I note: that during (and just after) a recession, government spending (even in deficit) is a spur to economic growth. This theory isn’t in contradiction to the healthy economy theory that money in the private sector generates more economic growth than money in the government sector; Krugman’s work is a special-case exemption.

    If you want to argue long-term, then fine – and we need to talk about the bloated Defense and Homeland Security budgets while we’re considering what needs control. But by all estimates, we’re not of the woods on this past recession yet, and Krugman’s theory holds the field.

  27. Almost no-one here clicks on links without some context, and fewer still click on video links.

    And I’d like to see your response to the reasons why Bork was unacceptable. And how one nomination block is the same as several hundred now. Or how Democrats and Republicans have compared in accepting the nominations of a vast majority of nominees, and how partisan those nominees were.

    Republicans have turned the nominations process in to a weapon for stalling Senate business and advancing their agenda at the court level. In comparison (as seems to be generally the case – see the latest negotiations), Democrats have been kind.

  28. VanDammerVanDammer says:

    pretty inflated opinion of yerself there pardner.  

    Now stands back folks while the EF Experience tells us how it is …

  29. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    put me in prison if I practice birth control with my wife?

      And Texas has the right to put me in prison if I have consensual sex with another adult of the same sex?

      Boy, you do believe in big government, don’t you.   As long as goivernment uses its bayonets to force your right wing view of morality on people who may not subscribe to your religious views.  

      So, what should the penalty be for having using birth control with my wife?  Death?

      As to your utter misreading of labor law, look up “yellow dog contract” and Norris-LaGuardia Act.  

       

  30. That’s how broken the House is.

  31. lyjtrpcnf says:

    I believe if Connecticut has no right UNDER SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS to put you and your wife in jail for practicing birth control, then it has no right UNDER SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS to mandate minimum wage laws.

    You need to understand two very simple facts of constitutional law.  (1) The constitution does not enshrine your policy preferences or mine.  I like contraception.  My wife and I have used it.  My girlfriends in the past have used it.  But just because I like it and I think it is SMART to use it does not mean that there is a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO IT.  (2) And if you believe that there IS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to contraception, you need to figure out the SOURCE of that right.

    The source of the right in Griswold was the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections, if not the due process clause of the 14th amd.  Well, if you think that makes sense, then please explain why the Lochner era decisions were wrong?  If there is a right to privacy to use birth control that is CONSTITUTIONAL, why is there not the same to contract below the minimum wage laws?

    The issues are likely why Gunther, the late Stanford law prof, put Lochner and Griswold together in his famous Constitutional Law casebook.  

  32. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    With the safety net cuts focusing on implementing the GOP’s ideas — cut eligibility, reduce access, cut benefits.

    Rather than uncapping SSI income limits, modernized and coordinated care (esp. for dual eligibles), lowering the eligibility age drawing more, healthier, younger (say, 55 or older) into the Medicare premium-paying pool, and taxing Cadillac employer plans (like mine).

  33. thiokuutoo says:

    Look at his past votes where he has broken from the Dems.  That is where the answer lies and why his committee position is so very disturbing to this Progressive Dem.

  34. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Tea Party vs. (soon to be ex-speaker) Boehner and the Senate Republicans.

    According to HuffPo:

    A high-stakes, multi-layered game of chicken is underway in the Capitol, as House Republicans grapple with how to handle a fiscal cliff bill sent their way by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, even while it’s wildly unpopular within their conference.



    They’ll have no difficulty making life uncomfortable for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who they blame for getting them in this mess, said one GOP source close to the situation. “He jammed the House. He’s gonna get re-jammed,” he said of the possibility the House amends the bill and sends it back to the Senate.

    But if House Republicans think they can put the onus back on the Senate by amending the bill, they are wildly mistaken, a Democratic Senate aide involved in the talks said. “They are full of hot air. Not a chance we come back,” he said.



    Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told the National Review’s Robert Costa that there are “real divisions” between Boehner and Cantor, and that Cantor was vociferous in his opposition, with the upcoming leadership elections hanging over the meeting. He said that conservatives were heartened to see Cantor take on Boehner in front of the entire conference.

    So if Boehner can’t (or won’t) bring this to an up or down vote, I can’t imagine his surviving a leadership vote Thursday either.

    If the Tea Party torpedoes this bill via amendments, we won’t be climbing back up from the bottom of the Cliff until a few sensible Republicans in the new Congress switch to the Democratic Caucus, leaving the Tea Party to play with themselves for the rest of the session.

  35. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Then I think they then separate from the majority of the country. They’ll be blamed for every economic issue over the next 2 years. They’ll keep their gerrymander seats, but enough will flip back to give us a majority in the house. And the GOP will be headed for localized minor party status.

    I hope they do kill it. Because they need to see themselves permanently out of power in D.C. to let the sane Republicans regain control.

  36. I’m afraid that there aren’t enough Republicans willing to break from their caucus to get this done. So long as they know where their re-election bread is buttered, they’ll stay in the caucus with the Tea Party, rich corporate person control and all.

    Perhaps if we’d had more even redistricting, it wouldn’t be so bad. But with Republicans holding so many safe districts thanks to their legislative control, I don’t see it.

  37. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Senator Bennet’s #1 priority is what Wall St wants. And what Wall St wants is deficit reduction via cuts to social programs.

    On the good news side, this means he can raise more campaign donations from Wall St for the DSCC.

  38. Gray in Mountains says:

    has had that I have attended debt and deficit, as we know often confused, have easily been the number 1 issue

  39. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Even if this bill gets through somehow this week, the debt ceiling negotiations are where the GOP will really do the most damage to the economy and non-military spending.

    This just in from HuffPo again:

    If the GOP doesn’t offer an up or down vote on the Senate deal, well, that would kill the deal, too.

    And then what? “Well, I say that then we wait for the new Congress to come in on Thursday. We’ll have better numbers, more members on our side,” said Clyburn. “Then we offer a new bill that they will like even less. They didn’t like the 450 (thousand dollar in household income) floor on the tax increase? Let’s see how much they like it when we push it back down to 250 (thousand)!

    As of now, that appears to be the plan:


    4:49 PM – Today

    House Staffer: Need to Wait For 113th Congress For Deal

    A senior House Republican staffer from the conference’s most conservative wing summed up his latest sense of the state of play.

    “My gut is that this ‘deal’ falls apart, and we have to start over when the 113th Congress reconvenes later this week,” the aide told HuffPost by e-mail.

    Politico:

    And there’s another deadline coming in March as well – the expiration of the continuing resolution that’s been keeping the government operating since September.

    “The debt limit and the continuing resolution are an opportunity to raise [a spending cut debate]. The public will look at those as spending cliffs, if you will,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said last week. “If we make it through this cliff we’re going to get another one right away.”



    Congress seems wedded to a deadline-to-deadline approach to policymaking.

  40. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Even if this bill gets through somehow this week, the debt ceiling negotiations are where the GOP will really do the most damage to the economy and non-military spending.

    This just in from HuffPo again:

    If the GOP doesn’t offer an up or down vote on the Senate deal, well, that would kill the deal, too.

    And then what? “Well, I say that then we wait for the new Congress to come in on Thursday. We’ll have better numbers, more members on our side,” said Clyburn. “Then we offer a new bill that they will like even less. They didn’t like the 450 (thousand dollar in household income) floor on the tax increase? Let’s see how much they like it when we push it back down to 250 (thousand)!

    As of now, that appears to be the plan:


    4:49 PM – Today

    House Staffer: Need to Wait For 113th Congress For Deal

    A senior House Republican staffer from the conference’s most conservative wing summed up his latest sense of the state of play.

    “My gut is that this ‘deal’ falls apart, and we have to start over when the 113th Congress reconvenes later this week,” the aide told HuffPost by e-mail.

    Politico:

    And there’s another deadline coming in March as well – the expiration of the continuing resolution that’s been keeping the government operating since September.

    “The debt limit and the continuing resolution are an opportunity to raise [a spending cut debate]. The public will look at those as spending cliffs, if you will,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said last week. “If we make it through this cliff we’re going to get another one right away.”



    Congress seems wedded to a deadline-to-deadline approach to policymaking.

  41. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    It may have reposted during the autorecovery process, resulting in this double post.

  42. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    I thought the first post was very thoughtful, the second one not as much :)

  43. ClubTwitty says:

    to the ‘original intent’ (somewhat contradictory COMPROMISE wrought by) the Founding Fathers in the 18th century?  

    What have you done–other than to cite a professor or…wait for it…think tank that the notion of a ‘Living Constitution’ is heresy?  From my position it is more right-wing conservative theory gobbledygook that falls on its face once it is introduced to the real world, the one where problems and policies are both cast in shades of gray, and not in the black and white of college textbooks.  

    I find such binary formulations of the world terribly pedantic, intellectually immature, and worth little more than the (seemingly) endless string of electrons excited by such discussions on message boards.  

  44. ClubTwitty says:

    History, context, those things matter not to the bright world of binary make-believe.  

  45. lyjtrpcnf says:

    It really has no point.  Just scrap it and say you are doing majority rule.  Which I am sure a whole bunch of evangelical people would be deeply happy with given their hatred of abortion.

    /slight sarcasm

  46. botw says:

    How did the Framers feel about phone taps under the Fourth Amendment?

    There are plenty of other, similar questions.

    While we are at it, where in the Constitution does it say we can only interpret the Constitution according to what the Framers thought?

  47. ClubTwitty says:

    The world is not so neatly reducible to either/or propositions.  I get that such looks nice in symbolic scribblings, but it does not describe reality.  Clearly the system we have Living Constitution and all is neither the original constitution nor majority rule.  

  48. lyjtrpcnf says:

    I.e. – what is speech? what is a religion?

    And then there are points that are not difficult.  Interstate commerce is one such point.  There is no way the framers intended for medical marijuana grown in your home using Colorado seeds, Colorado water, and Colorado sunshine…and then consumed in Colorado to be considered interstate commerce.  If they had, they would have signed off on plenary power for Congress which is something THEY DID NOT do.  

  49. botw says:

    Why use terms like “unreasonable” search and seizure, “due process,” “equal protection” — some of the most majestic, important language in the Constitution — if you don’t intend for it to be interpreted and applied over time, according to future sensibilities?

    Who imposed this requirement that we only interpret such phrases according to what a handful of white men thought over two hundred years ago?  They didn’t impose that requirement on us anywhere in the document.  They drafted some of the most important language in ways that could and should be applied later to circumstances they could not possibly divine.

    They didn’t know phones would exist, but surely they would understand why we apply the 4th Amendment to wiretaps.  If they wouldn’t have understood, why must we be bound by their understanding today?

  50. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Depending upon your opinion about the wisdom of this bill, I’d say Bennet is doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.  He really does come off as a “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” idealist.

    And yes, the degree of cynicism and deceit in Congress is probably 100x worse than what he encountered in the corporate boardrooms where he was schooled in political gamesmanship.

    Now that the bill is on its way to Obama’s desk, the question becomes, what lessons have each side learned?  

    Is the Tea Party conceding this battle, only to prepare for the next debt ceiling fight?  

    Is Obama finally realizing that faced with an intractable foe, the only response is to risk it all and let them know there is a limit to what you will compromise?

    At least Cantor realized that failing to take  ”Yes” for an answer tonight would have put a permanent Scarlet Letter on every Tea Party radical’s forehead.

    Or perhaps the Koch brothers finally realized that the slight increase in taxes imposed by this bill would be more than lost in tomorrow ‘s stock market valuations on their companies. So they “made the call” to their pet legislators to tell them how to vote.

  51. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    I think we do need to interpret the constitution in the context of today’s world, not the world of 200 years ago. And that requires an evolved interpretation of the phrase interstate commerce.

    At the same time, the constitution is specific phrases with stated meaning and that is the foundation of our law. We should not invent things we wish were in there or contort existing wording beyond any reasonable interpretation.

    I’ll take the rule of law and the difficulty of achieving aims working through the democratic process over a benevolent dictatorship any day of the week.

  52. While I don’t like the deal, it was a way forward borne out of compromise in the Senate, one that favored Republicans while not screwing the average person (for now).

    If Boehner hadn’t taken it forward (breaking the Hastert Rule and passing the bill with mostly Democratic support), the final epitaph on this House session would have read “irreparably broken”.

    I don’t know that Boehner retains his Speakership in the new session with this deal. He didn’t have the support of a majority of his caucus.

  53. ClubTwitty says:

    Serious question: Aside from the invented strawman propped up by Eliot, who is arguing that?

    I am pointing out two things:

    1) Mr. Fladen has done nothing to support his premises (i.e. that the notion of a Living Constitution is ‘heresy’) thus his conclusion cannot be supported and

    2) The reduction to only two extremes offered by Eliot (‘original intent’ only as amended–but not as interpreted by the Third Constitutional Branch of Government on the one hand, and mob rule on the other) as the only (binary) options is absurd, and as the basis of an argument provide a good example of the informal fallacy known as the reduction to the absurd.  

  54. caroman says:

    I really like Senator Bennet.  I think he is part of the solution, not the problem in Washington.  It was fascinating to watch him walk down to the Senate well at 2 am and casually throw his index finger down to indicate his no vote on the bill.  

    My problem with this vote is he didn’t explain in detail what he didn’t like about the bill.  What good is making a stand when no one knows what that stand is?  As I said in the post above, is he saying he wanted more revenue, more spending cuts, all of the above?  Apparently, the budget deal he was working on with Senator Lamar Alexander wasn’t even scored by the Congressional Budget Office.  

    It’s not too late for Senator Bennet to publicize the details of where he and Alexander were going.  That would help make it clear what point he was trying to make with his no vote and set the stage for where he stands on the next fight.

  55. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    So, you absolutely do believe that Connecticutt has the right to

    put me in prison if I practice birth control with my wife?

     And Texas has the right to put me in prison if I have consensual sex with another adult of the same sex?

    I read that as Voyager supported the court’s findings not because they were based on what was written in the constitution, but because they were the right thing to do.  

  56. lyjtrpcnf says:

    Please explain exactly how, marijuana consumed in Colorado, using Colorado sunshine, Colorado rain, Colorado dirt, and Colorado labor falls within interstate commerce?  Was there some formal amendment to the Constitution that we are all unaware of?

    I’m sticking with this singular example because it is one of the clearest examples of the failures of living constitutionalism.  

  57. ClubTwitty says:

    within the Constitution and its amendments?

    I concur with the courts on that.

    The U. S. Constitution contains no express right to privacy.  The Bill of Rights, however, reflects the concern of James Madison and other framers for protecting specific aspects of privacy, such as the privacy of beliefs (1st Amendment), privacy of the home against demands that it be used to house soldiers (3rd Amendment), privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches (4th Amendment), and the 5th Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information.  In addition, the Ninth Amendment states that the “enumeration of certain rights” in the Bill of Rights “shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.”  The meaning of the Ninth Amendment is elusive, but some persons (including Justice Goldberg in his Griswold concurrence) have interpreted the Ninth Amendment as justification for broadly reading the Bill of Rights to protect privacy in ways not specifically provided in the first eight amendments.

    The question of whether the Constitution protects privacy in ways not expressly provided in the Bill of Rights is controversial.  Many originalists, including most famously Judge Robert Bork in his ill-fated Supreme Court confirmation hearings, have argued that no such general right of privacy exists.  The Supreme Court, however, beginning as early as 1923 and continuing through its recent decisions, has broadly read the “liberty” guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment to guarantee a fairly broad right of privacy that has come to encompass decisions about child rearing, procreation, marriage, and termination of medical treatment.  Polls show most  Americans support this broader reading of the Constitution.

    Emphasis Twitty.  I see no ‘invention’ thus the issue is whether the Third Constitutional Branch of government has any role other than re-reading what the Founding Fathers wrote so long ago in applying those limited words to a much more complex, much more populated, much more urban society.  I say yes, Eliot says no, you say yes and no.

    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/p

  58. ClubTwitty says:

    Where I suggested anything of the sort?

    See, my world is colored in shades of grey.  I do not suggest that I agree with every interpretation made by the courts.  That the Constitution is ‘living’ makes no claim on the soundness of any particular, and certainly not every, court decision.  

    I reject the box you think you can put me in as being absurdly simplistic.  

    And your manner of arguing non-real-world points is tedious and pedantic.  

  59. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Yes we do need to look at things within the construct of today. But if we expand some of that to mean whatever we want it to mean, then we have the court bestowing (and removing) rights. And especially on this very contentious moral questions – I think we need the legitimacy that a legislative decision provides.

    And yes, I have my own opinion about how far those clauses should be stretched. And as opinions, that does not mean I’m right and you’re wrong – it means we disagree on how it should be interpreted.

  60. The Ninth Amendment is pretty open about the subject.

    Legislation doesn’t add any solidity to rights, either; the Court could just as easily strike down legislatively passed rights as it could uphold them.

    Our rights were never meant to be constrained by the words on the paper, only minimally bounded in some specific cases.

  61. ClubTwitty says:

    expanded to mean ‘whatever we want it to mean’?  

    I don’t see anyone making that argument here, although I see Eliot trying to attribute it, in general, to those who deny his anything but (his understanding of) ‘original intent’ of the ‘Founders’ (as if they agreed…) is heresy proposition.

    I think, since he has failed to document such heresy in anyway but as his opinion, that premise is not able to support any kind of definitive conclusion…but is just more opinion, which he tries to present as logically derived fact.  

    Alas, deductive reasoning does not work that way…  Unsupported/weak premises result in unsupported/weak conclusions.  ’Twas ever such.  

    The crux of the point being debated is not how various parts of the Constitution should be interpreted.  Rather, it is whether the Constitution can be so interpreted by the courts at all (or if such is what Eliot calls ‘heresy’).  

    Thus, if you think the Constitution can be so interpreted by courts (regardless of if you agree with a particular interpretation or not) you are disagreeing with Eliot’s position and agreeing with mine. So thanks.  

  62. ClubTwitty says:

    expanded to mean ‘whatever we want it to mean’?  

    I don’t see anyone making that argument here, although I see Eliot trying to attribute it, in general, to those who deny his anything but (his understanding of) ‘original intent’ of the ‘Founders’ (as if they agreed…) is heresy proposition.

    I think, since he has failed to document such heresy in anyway but as his opinion, that premise is not able to support any kind of definitive conclusion…but is just more opinion, which he tries to present as logically derived fact.  

    Alas, deductive reasoning does not work that way…  Unsupported/weak premises result in unsupported/weak conclusions.  ’Twas ever such.  

    The crux of the point being debated is not how various parts of the Constitution should be interpreted.  Rather, it is whether the Constitution can be so interpreted by the courts at all (or if such is what Eliot calls ‘heresy’).  

    Thus, if you think the Constitution can be so interpreted by courts (regardless of if you agree with a particular interpretation or not) you are disagreeing with Eliot’s position and agreeing with mine. So thanks.  

  63. BlueCat says:

    so decisively is definitely the greatest and most groundbreaking aspect of this deal.

    While I join Harkin in his objections, I do think real positives have been achieved, very much including the amazing new reality in which he and Bennet (whose explanation leaves me quite cold) suddenly have the luxury of making statement stands against their party’s legislation knowing it’s not only not going to be filibustered, as usual, but is going to pass overwhelmingly with bi-partisan (remember that?) support.

    They knew that the 98% wasn’t going to go over the cliff even without their votes, although I think the worst part of the deal was returning the most regressive tax of all, the payroll tax, to the old rate. So it’s not all roses and lollypops

    Still, the crash of the Hastert rule in the House, the rule that says no legislation will be brought to the floor in a Republican majority House without the support of an overwhelming majority of the majority was game changing. Brought and passed with a minority of Republicans and majority of Dems in support. That was never ever supposed to be allowed to happen:

    Lawmakers voted 257-167 to send the compromise to President Barack Obama to sign into law. Eighty-five Republicans and 172 Democrats backed the bill, which had sailed through the Senate by a lopsided 89-8 margin shortly after 2 a.m. Opposition comprised 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ti

    The Tea party faction still have their gerrymandered districts and they can still threaten to primary from the right any GOP grown ups who understand how the legislative process is supposed to work but they needed both the Hastert rule and the Norquist pledge to maintain their absolute obstructionist grip on the House. Both are on very shaky ground.  

    It’s a brave new world, folks.  

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