by Anugrah Kumar
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Senate has adopted by a razor-thin margin its first budget in four years, a $3.7 trillion blueprint for 2014 that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade while protecting domestic programs House Republicans have targeted for cuts.
None of the Republicans voted for the Senate plan, and even four Democrats voted against it, all of who face re-election next year: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey abstained from voting.
“The Senate has passed a budget,” the Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, declared at 4:56 a.m. on Saturday. The budget plan was passed by a 50-49 vote after debates on scores of symbolic amendments that began Friday afternoon continued for about 13 hours.
Unlike the Republican plan from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which would balance the budget over the coming decade through steep cuts, the Senate plan seeks to revoke $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts mainly through the savings.
Neither of the plans is likely to pass in the opposing chamber, and Congress continues to face sharp differences over reducing U.S. deficits.
“The Senate passed a budget plan that will create jobs and cut the deficit in a balanced way,” the White House said in a statement. “Like the president’s plan, the Senate budget cuts wasteful spending, makes tough choices to strengthen entitlements, and eliminates special tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthiest Americans to reduce the deficit.”
“We have presented very different visions for how our country should work and who it should work for,” The Associated Press quoted Sen. Murray as saying. “But I am hopeful that we can bridge this divide.”
However, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said, “The House budget changes our debt course, while the Senate budget does not.” He added, “I believe we’re in denial about the financial condition of our country. Trust me, we’ve got to have some spending reductions.”
Sen. Murray said she would try to work with Ryan on a path toward compromise.
“While it is clear that the policies, values, and priorities of the Senate budget are very different than those articulated in the House budget, I know the American people are expecting us to work together to end the gridlock and find common ground, and I plan to continue doing exactly that,” Reuters quoted her as saying.
The government’s borrowing limit will need to be extended again this summer to avert a default, which would lead to fierce negotiations. In April, President Obama is expected to release his budget plan, which could indicate how far his party would like to go in negotiations with Republicans. Though non-binding, the amendments senators considered late Friday and early Saturday indicated the political mood.
The amendments voted for include giving states more powers to collect sales taxes on online purchases from out-of-state Internet companies, supporting elimination of the $2,500 annual cap on flexible spending account contributions imposed by Obama’s health care overhaul, and charging regular postal rates for mailings by political parties. The senators also endorsed the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that is to pump oil from Canada to Texas refineries.
Categories: News Tags: balanced budget amendment, balancing the budget, federal debt, federal deficit, internet sales tax, internet tax, national defit, Ryan budget, Senate budget, tax increases, trade deficit
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Tea Party Leaders are expressing outrage and disappointment over the House passing a bill late New Year’s Day that allows President Obama and Congressional Democrats to raise taxes on wealthy Americans with no guarantee of future spending cuts.
“Sadly, our New Year’s predictions have all come true,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots. “Congress and the president had all year to do their jobs and be fiscally responsible – and, just like we said they would, they waited until the last possible moment to fail their nation miserably with a ‘fiscal cliff’ scheme to raise taxes and keep overspending.
The issue for those who believe the nation has a spending problem and not a revenue problem suddenly became a nightmare when 85 Republicans in the House joined 172 of their Democrat colleagues in supporting the measure that was sent over in the wee hours of the morning on New Year’s Day.
For the past 17 months the fiscal game of chicken rarely changed. Obama and liberal Democrats demanded higher taxes on families making over $250,000 annually and Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner with some assistance by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wanted to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and reduce spending, especially on the big entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare.
But in the end it was Obama and his team that got Boehner to go off the road as opposed to risk getting blamed for raising taxes on most every American taxpayer.
The final version that President Obama is expected to sign will extend the tax cuts for some taxpayers but individuals making over $400,000 and families over $450,000 will owe Uncle Sam more money in 2013 and beyond. Additionally, estate and capital gains taxes will go up for the same group. The bill also extends jobless benefits for one-year and cuts Medicare reimbursements for doctors.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will add almost $4 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.
Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation is even more outraged that some Republicans – including Boehner – voted in favor of the bill.
“The Republican Party has now cast itself as the Official Tax Collector for the Great Obamacare State,” Phillips wrote in an email to The Christian Post early Wednesday morning.
“Once again Republicans have surrendered their position of strength and given in to everything the Democrats wanted. This bill punishes Americans with new taxes that go not to reducing the deficit but for even more government spending. Today the Republicans stand under John Boehner’s freshly laundered white flag of surrender and America loses.”
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann was one of those elected in the GOP tidal wave of 2010 that voted against the bill.
“Months ago, the House passed bills that extended tax cuts for all Americans and responsibly dealt with sequestration. Unfortunately, the Senate waited until the final days of the year to look at any solutions. What they produced does nothing more than kick the can down the road on the most serious issue facing our nation.
“As I have long said, we have a spending problem not a revenue problem. The bill sent back to the House not only allowed taxes to increase but increased spending by $330 billion. It was simply something I could not support.”
Although Boehner voted in favor of the bill, his top lieutenants, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California joined Fleischmann and other House Republicans in voting against the measure. House Budget Chairman and 2012 vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin also joined Boehner in voting for the bill.
Martin also applauded members of the House and Senate who voted against the bill and chastised those who voted in favor of the measure, calling on them to step aside.
“The conservatives who stood firm for the principles they were elected to uphold are to be applauded, but those who negotiated this deal and those who went along with it should be ashamed and should consider stepping down. The American people deserve representatives who will do the right thing, even in a crisis.”
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—The day before the ‘fiscal cliff’ deadline and as Congress continues to work on an agreement, President Barack Obama appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to blame Congressional Republicans for not reaching a deal. In a panel discussion after the interview, journalists criticized Obama for not doing more to build trust with Republicans and not displaying more leadership on entitlement reform.
“We have been talking to Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers,” Obama explained Sunday. The problem has not been with the Democrats, Obama said, but with Republicans because they have been unwilling to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes.
“So far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this [fiscal cliff] stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don’t want to go ahead and cooperate, but because, I think it’s been hard for Speaker [of the House John] Boehner and Republican [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthy Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package,” he said.
The interviewer, David Gregory, asked Obama if he holds any accountability for the lack of an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. He answered that it was the Republicans’ fault because he has moved “more than halfway” to their position. That agreement, Obama said, would offer two dollars in spending cuts for every one dollar in tax increases.
In the panel discussion after the interview, most of the journalists criticized Obama for not showing more leadership on entitlement reform. If Obama had shown more willingness to take on the long-term drivers of the nation’s debt problem, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw explained, he would have a better chance of getting Republicans to go along with a last-minute fiscal cliff deal.
“I think it would have been helpful this morning to have said, ‘look, we get this tax deal done, I’m here to help on Medicare and Social Security reforms, we’ve got to address those,’ Brokaw advised. “Instead of just saying, ‘I’m going to protect the seniors who are there and the Medicare and Medicaid recipients.’ Give a little something to show good faith about what needs to be done on deficit reduction in the entitlement programs.”
Gregory recalled that when Brokaw interviewed Obama in 2008 he promised to take on entitlement reform before the end of his first term, but in Sunday’s interview he showed no commitment to entitlement reform.
“I asked him to make a commitment for the first year of his second term, he’s not prepared to do that. This is the driver, … you’re going to run out of discretionary money to do [the] things the president wants to do if you don’t take on entitlements,” Gregory complained.