fiscal cliff

Obama meets with congressional leaders on “fiscal cliff”

Obama meeting with congressional leaders

Congressional leaders from both parties are meeting with President Barack Obama this afternoon at the White House to discuss the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Reports have come out since yesterday indicating that Obama may make an offer just a few days before automatic spending cuts and tax hikes are supposed to go into effect.

Via Politico, here is the sum of Obama’s offer:

Obama is expected to make what the White House considers a scaled-back offer — one to raise taxes on income over $250,000, extend jobless benefits, delay defense and domestic cuts and patch the Alternative Minimum Tax, sources say. Raising taxes at that level is a non-starter for Republicans, who want far more in spending cuts.

In reality, there isn’t anything new to report. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Republicans will be willing to accept Obama’s offer given that it still raises taxes on families earning more than $250,000. Some Republicans have hinted that the White House could attract support if Obama raised the income threshold to $400,000, which would protect some small business owners. There is no indication that Obama is interested in that sort of a deal or that Speaker John Boehner, who is politically wounded after last week’s failed effort, could convince House Republicans to go along with it.

United Liberty’s Top 30 Most Read Posts from 2012

Being a libertarian-leaning blog, we touch on a variety of issues. From those of you that aren’t familiar with libertarianism, it is a philosophy grounded in individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. Our commentary is based from that unwaivering viewpoint.

This past provided endless fodder for bloggers. From the push for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to the terrorist attack in Benghazi to the 2012 election. While there was plenty to talk about this year, 2012 also served as a reminder that our liberties are still being slowly taken away.

With all that said, here are the top 30 most read stories from United Liberty during 2012. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them:

Where Is Thaddeus Stevens Now That We Need Him?

Written by David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The radical abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens is enjoying a rediscovery as the moral center of Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln. As portrayed in the film, he confronts the sort of dilemma faced by many people of strong ideological convictions forced to deal with political reality: Will he disavow his radical belief in full racial equality in order to ease passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery? (No spoilers here.)

Stevens’s belief in equality under the law went beyond race, as Karen Tumulty notes in a Washington Post article on the fiscal cliff negotiations:

House Ways and Means Chairman Thaddeus Stevens (now enjoying a return to popular consciousness as Tommy Lee Jones’s character in the movie “Lincoln”) denounced the idea of a graduated rate structure as a “strange way to punish men because they are rich.”

House Republicans reject Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B”

Despite constant lobbying for support and rumored threats to leadership positions and/or committees assignments, House Republicans have apparently rejected Speaker John Boehner’s so-called “Plan B,” which would have raised taxes on those earning over $1 million.

The proposal, which was met with a veto threat from the White House, did not even make it to the House floor for a vote. What this does to Boehner’s speakership remains to be seen, but the prospect of further negoiations between the White House and Republicans look bleak.

FreedomWorks is not on board with Boehner’s “Plan B”

Yesterday, Dean Clancy, Legislative Counsel and Vice President of Health Care Policy at FreedomWorks, wrote approvingly of House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B.” Clancy explained, “While not nearly as good as the FreedomWorks Plan to avert the fiscal cliff, Plan B is much better than the so-called ‘balanced approach’ that Mr. Boehner had, until Monday, been trying to negotiate with Mr. Obama.

While this may have left the impression that FreedomWorks was endorsing Boehner’s proposal, alongside Americans for Tax Reform, it would seem that Clancy was just stating his opinion, describing why “Plan B” might be reasonable, not speaking for FreedomWorks as an organization. He updated his post this afternoon, noting that FreedomWorks will be opposing the plan:

After review of the Boehner Plan B legislation, pending in the House today, FreedomWorks has found it must oppose the legislation, and will be urging House members to vote NO on the bill. We will post our formal opposition letter on our site, soon.

Word is that FreedomWorks may also score the vote, which is scheduled to take place some time this evening.

Economist call for pro-growth tax reform and spending cuts

The on-going debate on the “fiscal cliff,” automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that will take place at the beginning of the year, has constantly been at the forefront of the news over the last several months.

Last week, 180 economists signed a letter to members of Congress explaining why a tax hike would hurt the economy. They instead call on Congress to take up tax reform — a simplified tax code with lower rates — reduce spending and take up enetitlement reform:

Some in Congress have advocated allowing the 2001 and 2003 taxpayer relief laws to expire for some or all taxpayers. Such an action would have a significant, negative impact on the economy. Low taxes can have a constructive economic effect by keeping money in the private sector, where it is far more likely to be utilized for efficient purposes. By contrast, raising taxes would divert resources into the relatively inefficient public sector, thereby curbing potential job creation and economic growth. This effect would be even more pronounced during a persistent slump.

In particular, Congress should avoid raising marginal tax rates on income and taxes on investment, such as capital gains and dividends taxes. These types of taxes most directly and meaningfully affect job creation.

House to vote on “Plan B,” Boehner aggressively whipping votes


It looks like Speaker John Boehner’s so-called “Plan B” — which would raise taxes on individuals earning more than $1 million and cut entitlement programs — is facing much skepticism from House Republicans, despite earning the approval of Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, and FreedomWorks.

Daniel Malloy from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted last night that Boehner was seen on the House floor last night whipping three conservatives from Georgia — Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Tom Price. Malloy described the conversation as “pretty intense.” One would have to imagine that a similar mood exists among other conservative members of the House.

In hopes to convince conservatives to get on board with the plan, CNN explains that Republicans leaders may add spending cuts to the mix:

Apparently scrambling for votes on their alternative to a fiscal cliff deal - known as Plan B - House Republicans late Wednesday were considering expanding the scope of their tax cut extension measure to include spending cuts.

Boehner promises to press forward on “Plan B”

John Boehner

Despite the White House issuing a veto threat against the so-called “Plan B,” Speaker John Boehner called on President Barack Obama to “get serious” in the discussion on the “fiscal cliff” during a press conference today and insisted that the House of Representatives will pass his latest proposal:

Boehner’s “Plan B” would raise tax rates on individuals earning over $1 million, raise the debt ceiling for one year, and cut entitlement programs. While some conservatives are unhappy with House Republicans over the negotiations, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, has given Boehner’s plan a stamp of approval. Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks, has also had a positive reaction to the plan.

Boehner to push his “Plan B” through the House

John Boehner

Despite the White House rejecting his offer to raise tax rates on millionaires, a proposal formerly supported by many Democrats, House Speaker John Boehner is expected to move a version of his proposal through the House of Representatives:

Speaker John Boehner told his conference on Tuesday he will move to a “Plan B” in fiscal cliff talks with the White House that would raise tax rates on annual income above $1 million.

Boehner announced the plan to his conference behind closed doors after a flurry of negotiations with President Obama that showed the two sides were moving closer to a deal. Yet differences remain over spending cuts, entitlement reforms, new spending measures demanded by Obama and the president’s request for a hike to the debt limit. 
Boehner is scheduled to address the media this morning.

“For weeks, Senate Republicans — and a growing number of you — have been pushing for us to pivot to a “Plan B.” I think there’s a better way. But the White House just can’t seem to bring itself to agree to a “balanced” approach, and time is running short,” Boehner said, according to prepared remarks.

“At the same time we’re moving on “Plan B,” we’re leaving the door wide open for something better. And I have been clear about that with the president. Plan B is Plan B for a reason. It’s a less-than-ideal outcome. I’ve always believed we can do better,” he said.

White House makes a “fiscal cliff” counter-offer to House Republicans

Barack Obama

Though he has rejected House Speaker John Boehner’s offer, which included higher tax rates on millionaires and raising the debt ceiling, President Barack Obama made a counter-offer yesterday showing some movement in “fiscal cliff” talks:

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama has made a new budget offer to House Speaker, including a significant shift from a previous sticking point in their negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Obama’s latest counteroffer raises the threshold for tax increases up to incomes above $400,000. That’s an increase from previous demands dating all the way back to the presidential campaign, in which Obama had called for taxes on incomes above $250,000 to return to Clinton-era rates.

Reuters reported on Twitter that Obama’s plan includes $1.2 trillion in increased revenue and $1.22 trillion in reduced spending. Boehner’s office, however, pegged the numbers at $1.3 trillion in new revenue and only $930 billion in spending cuts.

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