There is bipartisan agreement in Washington, D.C.
Our nation’s leaders — at least some of them — know the nation is growing increasingly weary of the upcoming “fiscal cliff” and the stalled negotiations to avoid the hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take place the first of the year.
“Nobody wants to go over this fiscal cliff. It will damage our economy. It will hurt every taxpayer. It will be the largest tax increase in history, affect everybody,” Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said on CNN on Wednesday. “And anyone who’s watching who thinks, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to impact me,’ you will find out that it will.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent and the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, said, “If we allow that to happen, it will be the most colossal consequential act of congressional irresponsibility in a long time, maybe ever in American history, because of the impact it’ll have on almost every American.”
Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called on all 435 members in the House, 100 senators and President Barack Obama to show leadership.
“And you know what is happening?” Conrad added. “What is happening is the same old tired blame game. He said/she said. I think the American people are tired of it. What they want to hear is, ‘What is the solution?’”
Making the battle all the more difficult to understand is that, as The Associated Press reported last week, Democratic and Republican leadership is not that far apart.
Obama wants to raise taxes by about $20 billion a year more than Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio. The two men differ over spending cuts by roughly the same amount.
In comparison, the federal government expects to collect about $2.6 trillion and spend approximately $3.6 trillion in 2013, as part of a U.S. economy that is well over $15 trillion.
In their talks last week that were initially labeled promising, Obama proposed raising taxes by $1.2 trillion over the coming decade by boosting the current top 35 percent rate to 39.6 percent for income over $400,000, plus other increases on the highest-earning Americans. In the campaign, Obama called for an end to the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making more than $200,000 or families making more than $250,000.
He also says he’s offered about $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, including slowing the growth of benefits from Social Security and other programs. His proposed spending cuts also include $400 billion in savings from Medicare and Medicaid, the health care programs for the elderly and poor whose defense Democrats consider precious priorities.
Boehner has offered about $1 trillion in tax increases and roughly the same amount in spending savings.
Just as Obama has Democrats opposed to his proposed spending cuts, Boehner has Republicans who will not go along with tax increases for anyone — reportedly about 40 members. The speaker abruptly canceled a House vote last Thursday night on his so-called Plan B, a measure that would have prevented looming tax increases on everyone but people earning more than $1 million annually.
Without action, though, taxes are going up across the board — not simply on amounts earned over $200,000, $250,000, $400,000 or $1 million.
Despite all the rhetoric, tax increases, spending cuts or reductions in the rates of growth aren’t going to solve the nation’s financial difficulties. That will only come through solid, sustained growth, which will never occur with these games of “chicken” in Washington. In fact, experts predict that another recession is a strong possibility if an agreement is not reached.
The Senate is scheduled to be in session today, and Obama is returning to the White House from a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Is finding a way to avoid real financial peril in the year ahead — meaning give on both sides — too much to ask?
There is bipartisan agreement in Washington, D.C.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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