Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to effect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
MORNING MESSAGE: New “Fiscal Cliff” Math
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow: “Now Boehner’s saying he’s willing to raise ‘tax revenue,’ as long as tax rates are lowered even more. That’s a coded way of saying he wants even more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and that Democrats should expect to get that “revenue” by eliminating tax deductions for struggling middle-class Americans. That’s likely to mean losing deductions for dependent children and mortgages, and tax changes that will lead to even less health coverage for working Americans. He says he’ll also demand gets cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of any deal. But Boehner isn’t holding the cards in this situation. The President is. All the numbers say so — in the election results, the polling data, and even in the stock market, if you read it correctly.”
Dems Gain Upper Hand In Deficit Talks
President Obama to make statement on deficit talks at 1 PM ET. AP: “Obama faces a tough, core decision: Does he pick a fight and risk a prolonged impasse with Republicans or does he rush to compromise and risk alienating Democrats still celebrating his victory? Many of his Democratic allies hope Obama will take a hard line when he addresses the matter Friday.”
Obama, Democrats have upper hand in deficit talks, suggests W. Post: “…as [the President and the Speaker] prepare to go another round, the political winds have shifted in Obama’s favor … Chastened Republican leaders have lined up behind Boehner to offer a compromise on taxes, until now a major stumbling block. And triumphant Democrats are demanding even more concessions — although former top White House aides say the president recognizes that he must not overplay his hand … Questions remain about Boehner’s ability to rally his fractious caucus … and about Obama’s willingness to ask Democrats to bend on their key priorities, such as preserving retirement benefits and raising tax rates for the wealthy … Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid … bluntly declared Wednesday, ‘We’re not messing with Social Security.’”
Republicans push to include Social Security and Medicare in any deal. NYT: “Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, said he had begun circulating a draft plan to overhaul the tax code and entitlements, had met with 25 senators from both parties and ‘been on the phone nonstop since the election.’ … conservative Republicans are signaling newfound flexibility. Aides said that on a conference call of House Republicans, a number of lawmakers spoke up to say they needed to give their leaders breathing room and avoid brinkmanship.”
Schumer makes tax concession. NYT: “Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, extended an olive branch to Republicans, suggesting Thursday that he could accept a tax plan that leaves the top tax rate at 35 percent, provided that loophole closings would hit the rich, not the middle class. He previously had said that he would accept nothing short of a return to the top tax rate of Bill Clinton’s presidency, 39.6 percent.”
“Let’s Not Make a Deal” says NYT’s Paul Krugman: “…Republicans are trying, for the third time since he took office, to use economic blackmail to achieve a goal they lack the votes to achieve through the normal legislative process. In particular, they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy … So what should he do? Just say no, and go over the cliff if necessary … the fiscal cliff isn’t really a cliff. It’s not like the debt-ceiling confrontation, where terrible things might well have happened right away if the deadline had been missed. This time, nothing very bad will happen to the economy if agreement isn’t reached until a few weeks or even a few months into 2013. So there’s time to bargain.”
Senate Dems prepared to hold line past deadline. Politico: “The newly emboldened Senate Democratic leadership expanded its majority for 2013 and is prepared to allow House Republicans to fight their way to an answer on loopholes, even if it takes the country off the fiscal cliff temporarily, according to a Senate leadership aide. ‘This is a Boehner problem,’ the aide said. ‘His argument that he can’t pass [a rate increase] is wrong — he chooses not to because politically, its difficult. That’s not going to fly; we’re not going to let them use the threat of the cliff like they used the threat of the debt ceiling to make us do things we don’t want to do.’”
“Raising Taxes On Rich Won’t Hurt Economic Growth, CBO Says” reports Reuters.
Boehner Sets New Tone On Immigration, Health Care
Boehner sees writing on wall, predicts immigration reform. NYT: “‘This issue has been around far too long,’ he said, ‘… a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.’ … ‘This is a breakthrough to have the speaker endorse the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform,’ said Senator Charles E. Schumer …”
And accepts ObamaCare is here to stay. LAT: “Boehner also suggested House Republicans would not entertain repeated votes to repeal the nation’s new healthcare law, as happened this past session of Congress. ‘The election changes that,’ Boehner said. ‘Obamacare is the law of the land.’ The speaker later tweeted that ‘our goal has been, and will remain, full repeal’ of the healthcare law.”
Immigrant advocates debate legislative strategy. McClatchy: “One conversation that’s happening behind closed doors is whether it’s better to push for a larger, comprehensive immigration package or start with a more targeted DREAM Act, which would benefit the most sympathetic illegal immigrants but not necessarily their parents.”