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Senate passes fiscal cliff bill, fate in House uncertain; Multiple updates

Just a few short hours ago, while many of us were sleeping or ringing in the new year, the Senate passed the fiscal cliff bill 89-8.

The Senate, in a pre-dawn vote two hours after the deadline passed to avert automatic tax increases, overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday that would allow tax rates to rise only on affluent Americans while temporarily suspending sweeping, across-the-board spending cuts.

The deal, worked out in furious negotiations between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, passed 89 to 8, with just three Democrats and five Republicans voting no. Although it lost the support of some of the Senate’s most conservative members, the broad coalition that pushed the accord across the finish line could portend swift House passage as early as New Year’s Day.

Quick passage before the markets reopen on Wednesday would likely negate any economic damage from Tuesday’s breach of the so-called “fiscal cliff” and largely spare the nation’s economy from the one-two punch of large tax increases and across-the-board military and domestic spending cuts in the New Year.

“This shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here,” Mr. McConnell said just after 1:30 a.m. “But I think we can say we’ve done some good for the country.”

Now it moves to the House were its fate remains uncertain.

The fate of a hard-fought early-morning Senate deal on tax hikes and spending  cuts now rests with the House of Representatives where it faces a tough  sell.

Members of the GOP-controlled House are scheduled to meet at noon and take up  the measure. If House lawmakers approve the legislation, it will then go to  President Obama to sign. But if the House fails to come to a compromise,  Americans could be in for a very rocky start to the new year.

The bottom line:

In short, according to rough calculations forwarded by a source close to the  talks, the proposal would include $620 billion in new tax hikes and $15 billion in net spending cuts.

Gruesome, to be sure, but as I noted yesterday, there was nothing the GOP could do to stop Obama’s tax increases since they were scheduled to go into effect — for everyone — at midnight, and Republicans alone would get the blame for raising taxes on the middle class. All the GOP could do was limit the extent of Obama’s money grab, and I was frankly amazed Republicans were able to raise the threshold from $250,000 to $450,000. Now, assuming there are enough votes in the House to pass the Senate’s bill, which permanently extends the Bush tax rates for everyone under $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers), Obama won’t be able to raise taxes again without the Republican House agreeing to it.

Again, last night’s tax increase on productive Americans was already baked into the cake. The only way to stop it was if the House, Senate, and Obama all agreed to do so. That wasn’t going to happen. But once tax rates are made permanent, the only way to raise them is if the House, Senate, and Obama all agree to do so. That’s not going to happen either. If the House holds its nose and passes a "balanced" bill that contains more than 41 dollars in tax increases for each dollar in spending cuts, House Republicans won’t forget that mix. With that in mind, and Obama no longer able use the threat of middle class tax hikes as negotiating leverage, Republicans will be in a much stronger bargaining position when the debt ceiling comes up in two short months. So when Obama says something like this

If Republicans think I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone,” he said, then “they’ve got another thing coming. That’s not how it’s going to work.”

… it’s clear our most brilliant President "evah" is either ignorant of basic civics, delusional, or believes himself a dictator. Probably all of the above. And that’s if you believe Obama has any intention of ever addressing the deficit in the first place.  I don’t. Anyway, at the end of the day, Senator Hatch’s synopsis of last night’s activities in the Senate comes closest to my thoughts on the matter:

"I reluctantly supported it because it sets in stone lower tax rates for roughly 99 percent of American taxpayers," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "With millions of Americans watching Washington with anger, frustration and anxiety that their taxes will skyrocket, this is the best course of action we can take to protect as many people as possible from massive tax hikes."

The House convenes in about 2 hours.  Stay tuned.

Update: Ed Morrissey does a much more succinct job of making the point I was trying to make above: specifically, that with tax rates removed from the table by this deal, the GOP will have significantly more leverage to focus solely on spending in future deficit reduction negotiations:

If there is a silver lining for Republicans, it’s that they have successfully delinked tax rates and spending issues in this fight.  The next round of bargaining will deal only with government spending, and House Republicans will have the debt ceiling as a powerful card to play.

Update II: I think it’s important to note that as of right now, as I type this, all of our taxes are higher than they were 13 hours ago. The Bush tax rates are officially a thing of the past for everyone in America (who pays taxes). To paraphrase Milton Friedman, I’m for cutting any taxes under any circumstances for any reason, whenever it’s possible. It’s possible now to cut taxes for 99% of the country. I can’t think of a reason not to.

Update III: I associate myself with Allahpundit’s comments regarding the utility, or, more accurately, lack thereof, of the House rejecting the Senate deal:

Just remind me again what “important” goal will be achieved by forcing a new round of negotiations. What sort of spending cuts do you expect to see here? A trillion dollars over 10 years when we’re running trillion-dollar deficits annually? Even if they got Obama to agree to that, why would you believe that future Congresses would allow those cuts to happen down the line? This entire process is an elaborate charade designed to postpone the ultimate reckoning on entitlement reform, and you’re simply not going to wring serious entitlement reform out of the Democrats given the two parties’ current postures. Obama just won reelection; the Democrats expanded their numbers in the House and Senate; entitlement reform remains depressingly unpopular among the public despite attempts to educate them about the role mandatory spending plays in driving the national debt. House Republicans aren’t going to hold out for weeks on end in the futile hope of revamping Medicare against that backdrop while middle-class voters stew over their new, higher tax brackets. Why risk some of the GOP’s small reserve of political capital on a deal that’s only negligibly less terrible than this one? I understand the “let it burn” strategy, to force the public to fully absorb the cost of big government. I don’t understand this one.

A quote from Philip Klein: “There’s a lot to hate in this deal, no doubt. But any honest assessment of it must grapple with the reality of Obama as president, Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader and $4.5 trillion in automatic tax hikes hitting in the new year. With this in mind, I’d rate the deal as objectively bad, but relatively good.”


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  • RedDaveR

       Doug is correct on the tax increase issue.  Taxes were automatically going up anyway if nothing was done.  The GOP was in a tough spot on taxes. But the big problem, as usual, is on the spending side. Only $15 billion in cuts and the sequester cuts postponed for two months with no offsets.  This is just kicking the can down the road again.   The House should vote this down, or worst case at least make the Democrats provide the votes to pass it.

    • Christopher H Fromme

      Let the RINO’s & Dem’s vote for it and the conservatives vote no. Time for $100 billion in cuts from dept budgets, stop hiring federal workers.

      • HuntingMoose

        Not 100B$ over that nonsensical 10 years but 1T$ each year in cuts.

        As far as I am concerned, I am fine with conservatives voting for since it is a tactical short term vote with common sense.

        Voting for will prevent the insane heavy burden on the only thing that should not cut, defense spending. And after this thing is accepted, in 2 months we have negotiations without everything stacked against defense and the militairy held hostage

      • TENCOLE

         Got that right Chris. Why is it that it’s the conservatives have to do all the compromising??

  • $7566967


  • HuntingMoose


    for those tea party house members who are principal :

    We common sense people, the majority of your voters who are politically educated, will not hold it against you if you show common sense.

    This deal is not the end and last thing. What taxes are going up, can also go down in the future. Just keep in mind the unjust treatment of the best producers by the tax system


  • John_Frank

    Doug, while I appreciate the thoughts, with respect, some of us are obliged to disagree with the analysis.

    Senate passes massive tax cut which raised taxes over $600 billion in middle of night without reading the bill

    (h/t mark195)

    Which begs the question:

    If Today Were 1775

    Whatever one may think of civil disobedience as a political tactic, clearly Congress has stopped acting as a legislative body, as we lurch from "crisis" to "crisis."

    Mark Levin: Welcome to representative, constitutional government … NOT!

    (h/t korn813)

    As I write this comment, it is very unclear what the House will do. The pressure to pass the bill and consummate the "deal" is immense.

    Yet, if we are to have any semblance of representative constitutional government, the better course for the Speaker would be to reject all the pressure to hold the vote today. Rather, post the 157 page bill on the House website and ask the CBO for an analysis. Once that analysis is received give members at least 72 hours to talk with their constituents, before calling for a vote after considering any amendments.

    Yes, the White House, the Senate leadership and the media pundits would go nuts, while the traders on Wall Street would throw up their hands in dismay. However, in taking this approach, the Speaker would break the cycle of "crisis" negotiations and move members back to dealing with matters as legislators, which is what they were elected to do.

    In the meantime, while House members are taking time to consider the 157 page "compromise" bill, pass plan C and send that to the Senate.

    Will this happen? Doubt it. However, if the Republican house leadership had any guts, they would acknowledge it is time to sit down in the snow. Stop playing by someone else’s timetable and by their rules.

  • Isabel Matos

    This house of cards has to collapse I think .. none of this is working.  There is no such thing as a good deal when you haven’t gotten to the core of the problem.. and they haven’t.  We are running on fumes it seems .. just surviving until people get serious and DETOX from the spending that they are addicted to in Washington.  That plus go get surgery to have vertebraes implanted.

    fyi: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Tom Coburn, and Jeff Session voted against this deal.  That’s 4 out of the 8 Senators total who did. I would love to know who the other 4 are.

  • TheresaAK

    There is no silver lining for Republicans who pledged to not raise taxes…

    The RINOS are of course, going to flip flop, that’s what they do….they are as complicit in the take down of America as the DEMON Crats….however, the supposed Tea Party Conservatives had to keep their word or they fall by the wayside along with the other spineless RINOs.

    Psalm 15A psalm of David.
    1 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
    2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
    3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,
    4 who despises a vile manbut honors those who fear the Lord,who keeps his oath even when it hurts
    ,5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.He who does these things will never be shaken.

  • Polarbearpapa

    Madison Rising – The Star Spangled Banner

  • Kal Vernon

    "Well, today the White House is telling Fox New’s Ed Henry that this was the game all along. According to Ed Henry, the White House staff is saying that getting the GOP to break their tax
    pledge is, “One of the most consequential policy achievements of the
    last couple of decades.” The plan cuts $1.00 in spending for every $41.00 in tax increases. Contrary to what Senator Pat Toomey is claiming today, everyone’s taxes will also go up – the 99% and the 1%.

    That will be the headline if the House Republicans vote for this plan."

    • excopconservative

       This is the essence of the deal, getting Republicans to break the no tax increase pledge.  This will leave absolutely no reason left to vote for Republicans, a total disaster if the House goes along with it.

      • TENCOLE

         With a new party arising from the rubble.


    " “This shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here,” Mr.
    McConnell said just after 1:30 a.m. “But I think we can say we’ve done
    some good for the country.”

    Lack of sleep made this man delirious. *sigh*


    Doug,  anyone who actually thinks that the Republicans/GOP are not going to cave in the next "go around" too is delusional….you and Morrissey included.  
    You all can rationalize this and excuse it all away all you want to…..but all this is just the same old thing different day and we are screwed…..period.

  • njinfl

    How on earth does this remove Ogabe’s tax rate leverage?  Preposterous.

    In coming ‘negotiations’, citing fiscal imperatives, Ogabe will demand near French levels of taxation on the investment/entrepreneurial class and even dangle lots of imaginary ‘cuts’ in front of the the GOP entice them to drop the threshold below 400K.

    And if they dont do it, well, by golly, St Barry will have utterly no choice but to throw grandma and the disabled to the street, all b/c the evil Pubs wanted to protect their rich buddies.

    Like I said, preposterous, but, hey, its worked like a charm already.  Never forget the prime maxim of one of the great public philosophers of our time, Magic Johnson, when discussing repeatedly feeding Jabbar in the post:  "Go to the well ’til the well run dry".

    Since the GOP is all wet, it’ll never run dry.

    Good grief, a blind man could see this coming.

    C4P is getting a mite flabby:  priggish school marms for moderators and GOP accomodationists for front page posters.

    I thought I’d find a little refuge here.

    • goldenprez

       njinfl … You must be fairly new around here.

      The number of true conservatives on this site has fallen dramatically over the past year. There was a time when some comments would receive 100-150 likes. Now, if someone gets 25 it is a landslide.

      For well over a year, this site has been shilling for the GOP. Almost every fire-breathing conservative is long gone. The conservative-first people have long tired of bandying words, and proposing ideas, to the GOP diehards here. As well as having tired of "shoveling manure against the tide in Louisiana."

      This site is now totally Republicans4Palin, with a heavy emphasis on the "Republicans."

      What was once a "political" site, has now been reduced to a complete "social" site. Most of those who are left spend most of their posts "socializing." How are you? Glad you are feeling okay. Good morning. How’s your dog?

      All of those conservatives who had original thoughts, and were fighters for freedom, have long departed. What you see is what is left of what was once a large cadre of true conservatives, run off by the Republicans. Exactly as the Republicans are doing to the conservatives in Congress.

      "I  thought I would find a little refuge here." That is exactly what you will find here … very "little refuge."

      Throw them all out! The status quo must go!

      Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

      Illegitimi non carborundum.

      Barracudas Maximus.

      • njinfl

        Been around since Tucson, Prez, but I did fall away for a while when I got PO’ed b/c one of the schoolmarms moderated me for calling Boehner ‘B-ner’.

        To me, it had the connotation of ‘boneheaded’ but, hey, to a prig….

        • goldenprez

           njinfl … I made a conscious decision two years ago to stop calling people names.

          Of course, that is just for me. While it gave vent to some frustrations, it really didn’t do anything else. "A rose by any other name …etc."

          Or better yet, a Zen adage, "You can call a tail a leg, but that doesn’t make it a leg."

          I estimated that you had been around for a while, but your comment gave me a handy jumping off point for my evaluation of C4P and what has happened to it over a period of time.

          Throw them all out! The status quo must go!

          Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

          Illegitimi non carborundum.

          Barracudas Maximus.

  • 1776er

    Ezra Klein pretty well summarizes why the White House is spiking the ball today:

    "The White House laughs off the GOP’s theory that they can use the debt ceiling to extract big spending cuts without any further tax increases. For one thing, Boehner wouldn’t know how to achieve his “dollar-for-dollar” rule if you gave him total control of the budget. Raising the debt ceiling will cost around $1.5 trillion through 2014. Boehner has never named spending cuts even in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion. In fact, he’s never named many entitlement cuts at all. Republicans actually seem terrified of entitlement cuts."

    “You either cut Medicare or we default the country?” Asks one top Democrat, describing the fight the GOP is setting up. “And we don’t have the guts to put out our Medicare cuts so you need to put them our for us? And now you need to round up the Democratic votes to help us blackmail you? That’s the plan?”

    Klein’s summary of the Republicans’ leverage going forward:  Kill the hostages or we kill the hostages!

    Some leverage.

     Didn’t work last time the Debt Ceiling came up.  We got this mess as a result.  Won’t work in two months either.  We will likely get an even worse result.  We will butcher Medicare in some respect and hand Obama another $800 or $900 billion to spend on more Solyndras and walking around money for various Marxist cadre organizations of one sort or another.

    "It would be going too far to say White House officials are thrilled with this package. But it looks pretty good to them. As they see it, it sets up a three-part deficit reduction process. Part one came in 2011, when they agreed to the Budget Control Act, which included more than a trillion dollars in discretionary spending cuts. Part two will be this deal, which is $600 billion — and maybe a bit more — in revenue. And part three is still to come, but any entitlement cuts that Republicans want will have to be matched by revenues generated through tax reform. If Republicans want $700 billion in further spending cuts and the White House insists on $700 billion in tax reform, they’ll end up with more revenue than in Obama’s final offer to House Speaker John

    Unlike the RINOs, the White House Marxists have a plan that they are executing to perfection.  A three part plan.  Part One and Part Two.  Check.  Mission Accomplished.  Part Three–flumox the Republicans at the midnight hour when "the country defaults" to raise the debt ceiling to infinity and make Republicans sign on to closing $700 billion of mortgage interest deductions, charitable deductions, state and local tax deductions and any other "revenue enhancers" the Marxists can get their hands on.  Then claim the Republicans pushed grandma’s Medicare wheelchair over the cliff.

    Nice.  And this is a Republican win how?  Why is Mitch McConnell smiling?

    To be fair here is Klein’s summary of why Mitch McConnell is smiling:

    To summarize Klein’s summary:  McConnell thinks that he has given up less of a tax increase than Boehner offered to Obama.  $660 billion vs $800 billion.  And McConnell thinks that he is going to engage in a $1 of spending cuts for every $1 of DEBT CEILING increase in the negotiating over the next couple of months.  The Republicans think that the Democrats are fixated on the Debt Ceiling and will cave in on large entitlement spending cuts to raise the debt ceiling to avoid catastrophic national default and world wide financial collapse.

    The Democrats response:  Debt ceiling?  What debt ceiling?  We don’t care about no stinking debt ceiling.  You want to default America and crash the world economy its on you Republicans.  Go ahead and make our day!

    No, Republican friends.  You wrangle with the debt ceiling.  We will be busy that night partaying the way we couldn’t on New Year’s Eve.

    BTW, You Republicans want to eviscerate the safety net?  You want entitlement cuts to Social Security (raise the retirement age, screw those already on Social Security with no COLAs anymore) or trash grandma’s Medicare program ( higher premiums and co-payments) you go right ahead.  You jump first.  And the price for us agreeing to you shoving grandma and her wheelchair over the cliff?  Uh, not a Debt Ceiling increase, no, no. No that’s your thing. We want HIGHER TAX REVENUES FROM RATES OR LOOPHOLES OR DEDUCTIONS.  We want you guys to cough up the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction and every other deduction the Middle Class still has access to dampen the impact of confiscatory tax rates.  You do the job.  You propose raising taxes on the Middle Class.  Then you get to take the blame for the entitlement cuts.

    This is Republican Leverage?  This is why McConnell is smiling?

     I think this Fiscal Cliff deal is a catastrophe in the making for the Republican Party.  If Boehner sabotages the Hastert Rule and signs the Republicans on to this blind side by Obama then it will cost him his Speaker position. He will have been outmaneuvered once again.

    The Republicans in the House are going to need a war time consigliere going to the mattresses with the Marxists in the next few months. A fighting leader not a compromiser. Boehner does not fit the role. Time for him to go.

    • goldenprez

      1776er … You got it almost right.

      If you think Boehner is going to be defeated for Speaker you are "whistling past the graveyard."

      Even those "principled conservatives" who were purged are going to vote for him. I heard them all state to Hannity, as he interviewed each of them, that they were going to vote for him. They are Republicans.

      Boehner will not step down of his own volition. Jim Jordan, and two other guys, are not enough to keep him from the Speakership. The others have no guts whatsoever. I was disgusted to hear them crawling on their bellies and whining when they were asked point blank if they would oppose him.

      The only way to remove Boehner is for a new Party to elect enough representatives to the House who are not beholden to the Republican Party. Otherwise, it is "business as usual."

      It is going to take "sudden and relentless reform," with the emphasis on "sudden."

      Just check how many of "our" conservative Senators voted for this ludicrous "deal." The vote was 89-8, with only Rubio, Lee, and Rand Paul, among the supposed "conservatives," voting against.

      Throw them all out! The status quo must go!

      Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

      Illegitimi non carborundum.

      Barracudas Maximus.

    • friskyness

       I agree, but the rino’s don’t have the guts to fight Obama or get rid of Boehner.. he will be re-elected……do you really think the new members tomorrow will have the guts to vote Boehner out…………I don’t think so……….they think if they play nice the media will spare them, but it won’t work……..republicans will be blamed for everything….

  • Lor Mazz

    Rep are a joke they cave as usual i have no confidence in these morons at all bachmann needs to be speaker

  • Laddie_Blah_Blah

    "If there is a silver lining for Republicans, it’s that they have successfully delinked tax rates and spending issues in this fight.  The next round of bargaining will deal only with government spending, and House Republicans will have the debt ceiling as a powerful card to play."

    Think so?  Obama will simply refuse to negotiate any spending cuts and dare the GOP to keep the debt limit as is, thereby giving him the opportunity to blame them for forcing a default on the debt, if they don’t give him his debt limit increase, and for being responsible for the downgrade that would result.  That’s ridiculous, of course, but the BSM will fall in lockstep and the GOPe will cave, once again.

  • LLDub

    Conservatives are in dire need of a "national" voice.  Perhaps someone out of our new crop of senators (Cruz?) or representatives can garner the attention and get ourselves heard.   Yea, I’m going to get slammed by the "what about The Guv" question, but the fact remains that she hasn’t a way to speak "nationally".  If you didn’t come to this site, her Facebook page, or Fox News every now and then (and gazillions of people do none of the above), you simply can’t find her.   Not her fault…the lame stream media will simply not give her a voice.

  • BrianusBerkleianus


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