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.
- Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer
Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?
I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
“Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.
We must take all weather emergency alerts seriously
In a weather emergency, every second counts.
Think back to the derecho that devastated the state just two years ago. The powerful wind storm caused nearly 700,000 people in West Virginia to lose electricity, some who didn’t have power restored for weeks. A state of emergency was declared, and all but two of the state’s 55 counties sustained some damage or loss of power.
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