In response to Obama's fiscal cliff solution proposal, the Republicans led by GOP House Speaker John Boehner offered their own proposal to averting the fiscal cliff.
The Republicans and Democrats are still going at it in Congress. What happens in this year and next year will play a role in the 2014 US Elections where there are US Senate and US House seats up for grabs. There will be plenty of re-election campaigns. After 2014, we will see who ends up in control of the US Senate and the US House. Almost a month ago, there were the 2012 US Elections in which Democratic incumbent Barack Obama was re-elected as United States President. While Obama's battle is no longer with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee, his battle with GOP House Speaker John Boehner continues on. The battle focuses on the fiscal cliff. So far, the fiscal cliff is showing to be a shaky battle within the GOP on many fronts.
While there's the battle between Obama and Boehner, there's an internal battle within the GOP. In this regard, it is between members of the Republican party against anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. As there are a number of Republicans in Congress talking about willingness to violate Norquist's anti-tax pledge, Norquist is sticking to his guns with various warnings. Also, there are other Republicans that are giving their blame to Norquist for stalling the talks.
Republicans have given their version of the fiscal cliff solution or “counter-proposal” to President Obama. The letter was typed using the stationary of Boehner. It is currently available for reading and download in PDF form. The letter is three pages long. At the end, it has several signatures. Obvious, it has Boehner's signature. Other people that signed it include Eric Cantor who is the House Majority Leader and Kevin McCarthy who is the House Majority Whip. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Romney's VP running mate, also signed the letter.
Boehner said that this plan deserves “true consideration” in the White House. Under this proposal, there would be a little over $2 trillion in deficit savings. It listed the hundreds of billions in tax reform, Medicare reform, spending cuts, etc.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that any proposal that extended tax cuts to the top 2% of Americans would be rejected. However, that notion is rejected in return by Boehner and the other Republicans. Also, it is reported that this proposal takes elements of Erskine Bowles' framework.
In a CBS News article, the GOP proposal would be achieved by cutting $900 billion in spending. One method used would be reforming cost of living adjustments which are calculated by Social Security. The article also reported the response from Dan Pfeiffer, the WH Communications Director, who said that this proposal doesn't “meet the test of balance.”
Pfeiffer further said that the GOP proposal lowers the rates for the wealthy and forces the middle class to front the tab. The article also pointed out the input from independent analysts.
Christian Science Monitor reports what Ryan said about the Bowles plan. According to Ryan, the plan was “imperfect but fair.”
In this respect, both Democrats and Republicans are sticking to their guns. The Vancouver Sun reports that this plan will draw fire from Democrats who do not want Social Security to be part of the deal. Obama said that he's open to spending cuts as long as they don't affect areas such as: disability groups, vulnerable groups, education, job growth, research & development, and education.
Yesterday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi threatened that the Democrats will introduce a “discharge petition” against Boehner. Discharge petitions can make a bill come onto the floor without either going through a committee or without being approved by the House leadership.
While it is the typical Democrats vs. the Republicans, one has to look at the dissenting Republicans vs. Grover Norquist as well.
In a CNN op-ed article, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, is calling for Republicans to ditch Norquist. In a Baltmore Sun op-ed article, via reader's response, one person called upon campaign finance reform due to alarming concern that someone like Norquist could undermine the country's democracy.
Another CBS News article reports while there are a good number of newly-elected Republicans that signed Norquist's anti-tax pledge, the number pales in comparison with the number of those signed during the 112th US Congress. In the article, it was reported that Susan Brooks of Indiana told Bloomberg News that she didn't have to sign a pledge to show how much she opposes taxes. Brooks is a newly-elected GOP Representative from Indiana.
Michael Steele, the former RNC chair, weighed in on the fiscal cliff. According to Steele, a solution could be reached within 24 hours if Norquist and the Tea Party Republicans were taken out of the equation. Steele said that most of the battling is pure posturing. In a sense, Steele compared it to a game of political chicken.
Despite dissent, blow offs, and criticisms, Norquist is still standing firm. Norquist is showing that he's not a “pushover.” In a Washington Post article, one person says that Norquist is still influential as ever.
Yesterday, on December 2 as reported by CBS News, Norquist gave this warning if a deal isn't reached: “Tea Party Number 2 is going to be born.” When on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Norquist said if that happens, the second Tea Party will be bigger than the first Tea Party.
However, the Democrats are still holding their line in the sand. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, when on CBS' “Face The Nation,” said that the GOP is in a tough position.
In a New York Times op-ed “Letter To Editor,” there's a way of getting out of Norquist's pledge. The person who wrote the letter is a former chairman of the American Bar Association's Taxation Section. In the letter, the author said that it was irresponsible to sign a pledge let alone Norquist's pledge. The main thing is the “loophole.” Under the loophole, anybody that signs the pledge could verbally “oppose” a tax increase but still vote for it as part of a compromise.
This does work both ways. While there are Republicans saying that they are willing to violate the anti-tax pledge, they can still toe the line. At the same time, Republicans who openly oppose the plan could vote to increase taxes.
Earlier today, President Obama held a fiscal cliff Q & A over Twitter.