When I was young, I still remember getting in trouble by allowing others to influence my decision in doing some really stupid things. And when I would get home and my mother would ask me why, I would proceed to blame it on so and so, 'because Billy made me do it'! And like many other parents, my mother would then ask, 'If Billy asked you to jump off a roof, would you?'; with my obvious answer being 'No'! I realized then the wisdom in that statement, and can still comprehend the meaning of that hypothetical question; yet, I'm not sure the 535-members of Congress, nor the President of the United States, gets the point of such a common sense philosophy?
Staring down a steep fiscal cliff with only 48-hours remaining before they end up pushing an entire country 'off the roof', the individuals elected to represent the interests of those who will suffer the most from no deal being struck - by these wealthy individuals in Congress – will leave many Americans unemployed without benefits, health care coverage or a viable way to feed their families – legally at least. And while each side wants to continue with this strategy of pointing their fingers at the others and blaming it on their 'lack of leadership' or 'troubles saying yes', Americans remain vulnerable to massive tax increases to begin their New Year with a severe, long-term hangover.
“I don't understand the economics, but I do understand the politics [of President Obama's proposal],” says U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. “Kudos to the President, he won the election, and while I don't believe in the entirety of the proposed plan offered up by the President and Democrats, I fear the alternative of doing nothing and having my constituents suffer.” Graham, a Republican who has a reputation for working across party lines to get things done, believes that the Senate must pass the President's bill with at least 60% of GOP support in order for Speaker John Boehner to have a chance of getting it through the House. “Plan B would have passed with Republican support if Democrats would have voted for it,” Graham suggested on Fox News Sunday w/Chris Wallace earlier this morning.
Reiterating his unwavering push to eliminate the debt and address out-of-control spending – along with vehemently opposing Chuck Hagel's nomination as Defense Secretary, calling Obama's possible appointment hearing of Hagel a 'confirmation hearing of consequence' – Graham seemed to concede the fiscal cliff fight for a possible March showdown over raising the debt ceiling. “We have spent the $2.1 trillion borrowed 17-months ago when we last raised the debt ceiling, and I cannot in good conscience raise the debt ceiling without first addressing the current debt and continued spending,” says the senior senator from South Carolina, who will soon be serving his state with the Senate's only African American member, Republican Tim Scott.
The President took to Meet the Press to defend his proposal before Congress, the first one-on-one television interview since his re-election on November 6th; and blasted the Republicans in Congress for continuing to be the Party of No. “They [GOP] seem to have a problem with saying yes...they need to take the deal that I gave them,” said America’s Commander-In-Chief, who has been frequently criticized for not properly leading in the fiscal cliff negotiations. “That is very disingenuous, especially when you look at the proposals Democrats have offered, which I ran on in this election; that would continue the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans and extend unemployment benefits to approximately 2-million citizens of this country.”
However, Fox political contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol says he doesn't believe the President is serious about dealing with the reality of the financial situation, even beyond the fiscal cliff. “He is the President of the United States and he needs to be leading the fray in these negotiations,” from alternatives to tax cuts to seriously dealing with the long-term debt.
Yet panelist Kirsten Powers of the Daily Beast seemed to disagree, as she doesn't believe Republicans should expect the President to do something contrary to what he campaigned on. “He didn't run on cuts [to spending], he ran - and won - the election on higher taxes; and the GOP just got plain out-maneuvered by the President,” said Powers, a well respected political journalist in both parties.
However, local political analysts believe the President could be on the losing end of a fiscal cliff deal – or the lack thereof. “Nobody likes a bully or a sore loser, but they really can't stand a sore winner who gloats and acts like everyday is a recurrence of the day they won, never letting anyone forget their victory,” says independent political analyst Shaun Louis. “The President is barely breaking the 50% mark in these negotiation efforts, and if he concedes too much ground, that will certainly diminish really quick; setting himself up for dismal approval ratings come time for the debate over the debt ceiling?”
But according to recent Gallup polls, the President's approval ratings are favorable regarding the handling of the fiscal cliff, more than double that of republican leaders in congress. Obama's approval rating jumped 6-points in a week that witnessed not much negotiations and saw him fly home [Hawaii} for the holidays, while the GOP saw a three-point decline in their already dismal numbers. And while the President's overall approval ratings are 2-points higher than his handling of this fiscal fiasco, America still has 1/3 of the electorate not paying attention to what seems to be the only news being discussed on a daily basis.
“This rating shows that many Americans have no idea what the fiscal cliff really means for them, while showing that those who do have a semblance of what's going on, believe that Congress is only concerned about themselves anyway - and what they can get out of a deal rather than their constituents; not worried about the ramifications that will be felt by those who put them into office,” Louis believes. “The Republicans would fare better ignoring this cliff, and then lining up unified behind a tax cut on 98% of Americans in the first week of the new Congress come January 4th! Better to explain why you voted for tax cuts than why you voted for tax increases of any kind!”
"The hour for immediate action is here. If an agreement isn’t reached in time between Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell, then I will urge Sen. Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote...that makes sure that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, that unemployment insurance is still available for two million people, and that lays the groundwork, then, for additional deficit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the New Year!” ~ President Barack Obama
Handling of the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations:
President Barack Obama – 12/16-23 – 48% 12/24-28 – 54% (+6)
Senate President H. Reid – 12/16-23 – 24% 12/24-28 – 34% (+10)
Speaker John Boehner - 12/16-23 – 25% 12/24-28 – 26% (+1)
Dem. Leaders (Congress) – 12/16-23 – 34% 12/24-28 – 45% (+11)
GOP Leaders (Congress) – 12/16-23 – 29% 12/24-28 – 26% (-3)
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