Jan 2 2013
09:45 am

The manufactured drama is one-half over, and Rep. John Duncan voted to raise taxes on every American. So did his tea party pals Roe, Fleischmann, DesJarlais, Black and Blackburn. Also Cooper, a Democrat (sort of). What a bunch of hypocrites.

Cohen, also a Democrat, was the only Tennessee Representative to vote for the tax cut. Sens. Alexander and Corker also voted for the tax cut.

There was no action on automatic spending cuts agreed to in a July 2011 budget deal that set the clock ticking on the "fiscal cliff" and triggered automatic tax increases on Jan. 1st. Many economists believe that the automatic tax increases and spending cuts would push the U.S. back into a recession.

Many economists also agree that our debt is not sustainable. And most people paying attention agree that the only way to fix it is to raise taxes and cut spending. Taxing the wealthy won't get it done, but it's a good start and at least makes our tax system more progressive.

Eventually there will have to be across the board tax increases. We should also eliminate the the cap on Social Security payroll taxes. (This latest deal at least eliminates the irresponsible Social Security payroll tax cut.) We should also start making corporations pay their fair share and crack down on offshore tax dodges.

There will also have to be significant cuts in discretionary federal spending until we pay off the bill for Bush's lost decade of irresponsible Republican spending on senseless wars and tax cuts. Most of those spending cuts will likely have to come from defense, which lines the pockets of Congress so don't hold your breath.

The Republican plan is to eliminate Medicare and Social Security, which are earned benefits that hard-working Americans already pay for.

We have the most irresponsible and incompetent Congress in modern history. The 2014 elections should be interesting.

CE Petro's picture

Incompetence or Greed?

Just a couple of points here. Eliminating and or cutting SS and Medicare is not just for republicans. Obama had made a concerted effort to cut SS and Medicare since the time he first took office. He (Obama) promised to cut SS during the second debate last year. "I don't differ from Mitt Romney that entitlements need reforming" ring a bell?

Matt Stoller runs down the 8 corporations that won gobs of $$$ in this manufactured cliff deal to the tune of $205B (yes, billion). Instead of cutting SS and Medicare, lawmakers should focus on cutting corporate welfare.

Here's the thing. In this economic climate, austerity is not what is called for. Quite frankly, if we continue down the road of calling for austerity, 1. we will continue to vastly increase the wage gap and 2. we will look an awful lot like Greece in the end. Europeans have finally woken up to realize that the austerity plans have done nothing more than make the populace worse off.

CE Petro's picture


Shades of the whole article, it's quite interesting.

R. Neal's picture

What Obama means by "reforms"

Seniors & Social Security | The White House

"To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market." -PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, JANUARY 25, 2011

Also from the same link:

The President is committed to protecting and strengthening Social Security—and securing the basic compact that hard work should be rewarded with dignity at retirement or in case of disability or early death. That’s why he has called on Congress to work on a bipartisan basis to preserve Social Security as a reliable source of income for American seniors and as a program that provides robust benefits to survivors and workers who develop disabilities. He believes that no current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced and he will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations. The President also stands firmly opposed to privatization and rejects the notion that the future of hard-working Americans should be left to the fluctuations of financial markets.

Fabricant's picture

Jimmy Duncan's Official

Jimmy Duncan's Official Line

"I was strongly in favor of the tax cut provisions and had voted for them on several occasions; however, because this bill, the way it was written, will add almost $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, I just could not vote for it.

"In addition, it was filled with several goodies for special interest groups, including money for rum producers, movie and television companies, NASCAR, and even algae growers.

CE Petro's picture

Back Peddling

Obama Proposes cuts to SS (7/7/11)

The administration would only agree to cuts to Social Security benefits in exchange for reducing some eliminating some tax breaks that benefit the wealthy and certain industries, including oil and gas firms.

On the eve of Obama's inauguration (1/2009) calls for "entitlement reform."

President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare "bargain" with the American people, saying that the nation's long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.

(link...) (7/11/11) Cuts to "entitlements" for the "Grand Bargain"

Doubling down after the 2012 debates changing the inflation formula (for example chained CPI) is a cut to benefits, even if it sounds like it isn't.

To say that Obama does not want to cut SS and Medicare is wrong. Why would he say these things, especially using the framing of "entitlement reform" (how are these entitlements if we are paying into these programs???), if he didn't believe them? Here's the thing, these aren't Freudian slips on his part, I am taking him at his word.

The fact that the republicans, not just in our state, but across the nation want to flip the bird to the most vulnerable, through deep cuts to SS/Medicare is heinous enough. When the party that says it's working for the most vulnerable flips the bird to the people and throws them under the bus, through a "Grand Bargain" and seemingly capitulating during negotiations, it's worse than heinous, in my mind.

Fabricant's picture

Agreed. Obama is a moderate

Agreed. Obama is a moderate republican. Not only does his crowning achievement (AHA) pale in comparison to New Deal legislation, his policies work against such provisions.

Stick's picture

More of the same...

As has been the case with Obama, he negotiated with himself and surrendered the leverage he had in exchange for bad policy. I had actually hoped the crazies would vote it down. Alas, not to be.

The president has repeatedly signalled that SS and Medicare are on the table, and I expect chained CPI to emerge from the next round of performance art. It's a perfect way to make [stupid & un-necessary] cuts to SS while maintaing the facade of "protecting" SS.

Midori Barstow's picture

Stick knows. (link...) Social

Stick knows.


Social Security is only safe in the very short term though. Now that President Obama has officially backed it giving the Republicans what they see as political cover, they are intent on getting it.

Any smaller deal to avert the fiscal cliff will likely only delay the sequestration cuts for a few months. This will probably result in an attempt to find a permanent solution to the sequestrations being tied in with a potential debt ceiling fight in early 2013. That is when the GOP plans to renew their push for Social Security cut, according to Bob Corker:

“We do expect it to be part of the debt ceiling negotiations,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), in a signal that extending the nation’s borrowing limit — which the United States has nearly reached — will not be part of any imminent deal.

Social Security has not been saved from cuts, but it appears to have gotten another temporary reprieve. It will probably only be a few months before it is under attack again.

Fabricant's picture

Right, a real Democrat would

Right, a real Democrat would take measures ensuring SS cuts cannot be made.

AnonymousOne's picture

Implement taxes to pay for

Implement taxes to pay for government spending with no borrowing.

The GOP should do it and call them Obama's taxes.

Everyone with half a brain knows that increasing taxes on the 1% won't pay the bill in the end.

The 15 or so Democrats, who also did not vote for the bill, know this.

Let's raise the taxes now in line with the continued spending.

Then we will see how 2014 goes.

gonzone's picture

That might have been good

That might have been good advice for Bush.

fischbobber's picture

Real Danger

There was a real danger when little Bush took office that as a result of a strong, balanced economy, there was finally a chance for real social mobility. His tax plan took care of that in short order and as a result the prospect of such social mobility has changed to a mere hope for survival.

The Tea Party appears to be calling for upheaval and would be wise to note the old saying,"Be careful what you ask for."

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