The Times West Virginian


January 3, 2013

Congress still has much work to get completed on fiscal matters

Congress has taken an initial step in dealing with nation’s “fiscal cliff.”

Financial markets around the world on Wednesday celebrated the New Year’s Day agreement to avoid middle-class tax increases and spending cuts.

However, there is much work left to be done.

The bill’s passage came on a 257-167 vote in the House late Tuesday after the Senate approved the measure on a vote of 89-8 less than 24 hours earlier. House conservatives demanded a vote to add significant spending cuts to the bill, but they finally called off the effort.

“Thanks to the votes of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans while preventing tax hikes that could have sent the economy back into recession,” President Barack Obama said.

In addition to neutralizing middle-class tax increases and spending cuts taking effect with the new year, the legislation will raise tax rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples. That was higher than the thresholds of $200,000 and $250,000 that Obama campaigned for.

Get prepared for new battles in the near future.

The legislation extended the deadline for deep mandatory spending cuts in military and domestic programs for only two months, and it did nothing to deal with raising the nation’s borrowing limit. The debt limit, set by Congress, is now $14.3 trillion — a ceiling the government officially hit on Monday.

The Treasury Department, The Associated Press reported, says it will take “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the government’s bills — but only until sometime in February or March.

Remember last fight over the debt limit? It was costly, to say the least.

After a summer 2011 battle, the American government came close to defaulting for the first time ever. Standard & Poor’s yanked the nation’s blue-chip AAA bond rating.

Obama warned Congress against using a vote on the debt ceiling to try to win concessions on spending cuts. He asserted he wouldn’t negotiate “with Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up through the laws they have passed.”

We agree with the president on this point. Until the 2011 confrontation, increases in the debt limit have been largely routine and did not produce the treat of default, which would be devastating to the U.S. economy.

Spending, though, simply must be addressed.

A “grand bargain,” not unexpectedly, was not possible during this lame-duck session of Congress.

A sound plan that combines even more tax changes and spending cuts to reduce federal deficits — one that both sides of the political spectrum can support even if grudgingly so — is essential.

Americans voted for split government, with Democrats controlling the White House and Senate and Republicans the House of Representatives. The best ideas from both sides deserve serious consideration.

“Now the focus turns to spending,” Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “The American people re-elected a Republican majority in the House, and we will use it in 2013 to hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt.”

The country must move past dealing with financial matters in a crisis mode as deadlines approach. Then the focus can switch toward promoting strong growth — the only real way to significantly reduce the nation’s debt and maintain a standard of living Americans demand and deserve.

Text Only
  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • 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.

    July 20, 2014

  • 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.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads