01/01/2013 archive

Congressional Game of Chicken: The Feral Children of the House

Up Date 20:04 EST The House Republican leadership has decided to put the Senate bill on the floor for an up or dowm vote later tonight.

The CompromiseEarly this morning the Senate passed the “Fiscal Cliff Bill” by vote of 89 – 8. Voting in opposition for various reasons were Democratic Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) along with Republican Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Richard Shelby (D-AL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). At the Washington Post‘s Wonk Blog, Suzie Khimm gives us a cheat sheet for the deal which included a one year extension of the farm bill. However, no matter how you look at this bill that raises taxes on incomes over $450,000, taxes for the middle class will go up:

Taxes will rise on the middle class even if this deal passes, because it doesn’t include an extension of the payroll tax holiday. That means that the paychecks for more than 160 million Americans will be 2 percent smaller starting in January, as the payroll tax will jump from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. And a huge number of those hit will be middle class or working poor (Two-thirds of those in the bottom 20 percent would be affected by a payroll tax hike.).

The reality is that the payroll tax holiday hurt contribution to Social Security and was a back door to tying it to the debt/deficit argument. What would have been better for the lowest 20% of tax payers was the Earned Income Tax Credit that the payroll tax cut had replaced two years ago.

All of this may now be moot. As of the afternoon, the Republican feral children led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) are against the bill and want to amend it.

Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the influential House majority leader, emerged from a two-hour meeting with GOP colleagues and said he opposes the Senate bill, which would let income taxes rise sharply on the rich. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Cantor “forcefully” expressed his concerns during the closed -door session, during which other GOP members expressed grave doubts about the agreement.

Cantor’s opposition likely dooms the chances for fast House passage of the legislation without changes, which could prolong efforts to avert the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that technically took effect on Tuesday. If there is no agreement by the end of the current Congress at noon on Thursday, negotiations would have to start over in the next Congress. Many economists believe that the fiscal cliff’s full effect would drive the economy back into recession.

The Republicans are scheduled to meet at 5:15 PM EST. Regardless of what goes on in the House, the Senate has adjourned until Jan. 3 when the new session begins and it is highly unlikely that they would return.

This will certainly puts Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) in a bad position since he had supported an “up or down vote” on the bill that was crafted by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-SC), since it now appears that he has completely lost control of the House Republican. The biggest objection of to the bill is the lack of spending cuts as Ryan Grym at “Huffington Postreports, highlighting the probelms for Boehner:

“We’ve got to provide responsible spending balance long-term,” said Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) “This bill does not do that.” Republicans who filed out of the House GOP meeting sounded cautionary notes about the fiscal cliff deal, suggesting it faces serious trouble.

House GOP sources said that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), a leader of the conservative wing and a potential threat to House Speaker John Boehner, is expected to vote against the Senate deal if it comes to the floor, breaking the leadership unity that existed around Boehner’s “Plan B.” And Republicans leaving the meeting said that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Boehner’s leading rival, spoke against the bill, BuzzFeed’s John Stanton reported.

“Leadership is currently listening to the members so as to figure out the best path forward,” Cantor spokesman Doug Heye said.

Cantor told CNN’s Deirdre Walsh flatly, “I do not support the bill,” and said no decisions have been made on how to proceed.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told the National Review’s Robert Costa that there are “real divisions” between Boehner and Cantor, and that Cantor was vociferous in his opposition, with the upcoming leadership elections hanging over the meeting. He said that conservatives were heartened to see Cantor take on Boehner in front of the entire conference.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is reporting that the Senate’s bill would add $4 trillion to the deficit over a decade.

The House Democrats have their hands tied at this point but if the bill does make it to the floor for debate they do have some action they can take:

If Republicans attempt to offer amendments — as is expected — Democrats will oppose a rule to allow that to happen procedurally.

If the GOP then tries to pass an amended bill, “they will have to do it with their own votes,” said Rep. James Clyburn, (D- S.C.), a member of the leadership. Either scenario would kill the deal.

If the GOP doesn’t offer an up or down vote on the Senate deal, well, that would kill the deal, too.

And then what? “Well, I say that then we wait for the new Congress to come in on Thursday. We’ll have better numbers, more members on our side,” said Clyburn. “Then we offer a new bill that they will like even less. They didn’t like the 450 (thousand dollar in household income) floor on the tax increase? Let’s see how much they like it when we push it back down to 250 (thousand)!”

Former Clinton Labor Secretary and professor at University of California, Robert Reich has voiced the opinion that no deal is a better than a bad deal and advocates going over the cliff.

Up dates to follow.

New Year’s Day TV Evening

The Hypnotoad.

"Television is a vast wasteland"

The networks race back to normalcy and I do also.  It takes a week to recover from the holidays.  I hope you all had one as good and safe as I did, see you next year!

This edition covers the 12 hours from 6 pm to 6 am.  Immediate gratification is here.  The previous edition is here.

99th Rose Bowl

Why is it the 99th?  Well the Parade started in 1895 and the Throwball game not until 1902.  Plus there are some missing years.

This year we see Stanford (Condi Rice’s place) facing Wisconsin (go Badgers!) for nothing but bragging rights the way it used to was.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Perspective on the Deal

To make sense of what just happened, we need to ask what is really at stake, and how much difference the budget deal makes in the larger picture.

So, what are the two sides really fighting about? Surely the answer is, the future of the welfare state. Progressives want to maintain the achievements of the New Deal and the Great Society, and also implement and improve Obamacare so that we become a normal advanced country that guarantees essential health care to all its citizens. The right wants to roll the clock back to 1930, if not to the 19th century.

There are two ways progressives can lose this fight. One is direct defeat on the question of social insurance, with Congress actually voting to privatize and eventually phase out key programs – or with Democratic politicians themselves giving away their political birthright in the name of a mess of pottage Grand Bargain. The other is for conservatives to successfully starve the beast – to drive revenue so low through tax cuts that the social insurance programs can’t be sustained.

New York Times Editorial: A Tepid Fiscal Agreement

For the first time since President George W. Bush began the country’s long slide into debt by cutting taxes in 2001, an agreement was reached late Monday in the Senate to raise income taxes on the rich. That’s what makes the deal significant: assuming it is approved by the House, it begins to reverse the ruinous pattern of dealing with Washington’s fiscal problems only through spending cuts. [..]

The White House argues that it achieved 85 percent of its revenue goals, raising $600 billion over a decade, a third of which comes by phasing out exemptions and deductions for people with incomes greater than $250,000 a year. And Republicans achieved none of the draconian spending cuts they wanted.

But that battle is far from over. Negotiators have yet to work out a deal to stop the arbitrary spending cuts known as the sequester, which are scheduled to slash $110 billion from the defense and domestic budgets beginning this week. And Republicans are waiting for the Treasury to hit its debt limit in a few weeks, hoping to once again extort more spending cuts.

Robert Reich: Lousy Deal on the Edge of the Cliff

The deal emerging from the Senate is a lousy one. Let me count the ways: [..]

Yes, the deal finally gets Republicans to accept a tax increase on the wealthy, but this is an inside-the-Beltway symbolic victory. If anyone believes this will make the GOP more amenable to future tax increases, they don’t know how rabidly extremist the GOP has become.

The deal also extends unemployment insurance for more than 2 million long-term unemployed. That’s important.

But I can’t help believe the president could have done better than this. After all, public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side. Republicans would have been blamed had no deal been achieved.

More importantly, the fiscal cliff is on the president’s side as well. If we go over it, he and the Democrats in the next Congress that starts later this week can quickly offer legislation that grants a middle-class tax cut and restores most military spending. Even rabid Republicans would be hard-pressed not to sign on.

John Nichols: Social Security Is Off the Table… For Now

Preserving Social Security should never have been all that difficult.

But it took Harry Reid to settle the issue – at least as regards the miserably long and absurdly inappropriate debate of 2012.

“We’re not going to have any Social Security cuts,” the Senate majority leader said on the floor of the chamber Sunday. “It’s just doesn’t seem appropriate at this time.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had attempted Saturday to use the “fiscal cliff” fight to advance a proposal to adopt a chained consumer price index-“chained CPI”-scheme (pdf) that would slash cost-of-living increases for Americans who rely on Social Security and other government programs. The Obama administration had entertained the “chained CPI” switch earlier in December. But as the critical point when a deal to cut Social Security might have been made, Reid said “No.”

John Atcheson: Reality’s Revenge: Will 2013 Be the Year Climate Change Deniers Get Hoisted on Their Own Petard?

n 2007, then Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman, Rejendra Pachauri said:

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”

Well, don’t look now, but 2012 just whizzed past, and thanks to a well-organized and well-funded denier movement, once again, we took no action on climate change.

Ironically, by stalling action, climate change deniers are bringing about the end they’ve been struggling to prevent.

Bottom line: deniers hate big government.  As ClimateProgress editor Joseph Romm pointed out, that’s the main reason many conservatives oppose action on climate change.

Of course there is a second reason: money.

Ralph Nader: Compare the 1912 Elections with the 2012 Elections

Before the electoral year of 2012 slinks into history, it is worth a comparative glance back to the electoral year of 1912 to give us some jolting perspective on how degraded our contemporary elections, voter performance and election expectations have become.  

One hundred years ago, workers were marching, picketing and forming unions. Eugene Debs, the great labor leader and presidential candidate that year, spoke to outdoor labor rallies of 100,000 to 200,000 workers and their families gathered to protest low wages and working conditions.

Farmers were flexing their muscle with vibrant political activity in progressive parties and organizing farm cooperatives, through their granges, and pushing for proper regulation of the banks and railroads.

124th Rose Parade

Well, for those of you without TV as I was last year KTLA seems to have the best streaming web coverage-

  • Live Stream (you’ll need to have javascript enabled)

The Theme this year is Oh the places you’ll go, Ted Geisel’s last and most depressing book (Wikipedia be damned and Lorax and Sneetches not withstanding).

Oh- Wikipedia.

The Official Site

The Order of March is below.  This is not necessarily the order you’ll see on TV where ABC, and HGTV start their coverage at 11 am and NBC follows at 11:30.  FamNet has a pre-parade with their coverage starting at 10:30 am.

I’m glad I’m not a member of Lafayette Band Pride of the Bluegrass.

On This Day In History January 1

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Happy New Year 2013

January 1 is the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years).

During the Middle Ages under the influence of the Christian Church, many countries moved the start of the year to one of several important Christian festivals – December 25 (the Nativity of Jesus), March 1, March 25 (the Annunciation), or even Easter. Eastern European countries (most of them with populations showing allegiance to the Orthodox Church) began their numbered year on September 1 from about 988.

In England, January 1 was celebrated as the New Year festival, but from the 12th century to 1752 the year in England began on March 25 (Lady Day). So, for example, the Parliamentary record records the execution of Charles I occurring in 1648 (as the year did not end until March 24), although modern histories adjust the start of the year to January 1 and record the execution as occurring in 1649.

Most western European countries changed the start of the year to January 1 before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. For example, Scotland changed the start of the Scottish New Year to January 1 in 1600. England, Ireland and the British colonies changed the start of the year to January 1 in 1752. Later that year in September, the Gregorian calendar was introduced throughout Britain and the British colonies. These two reforms were implemented by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750.

New Year’s Day

Probably observed on March 1 in the old Roman Calendar, The World Book Encyclopedia of 1984, volume 14, page 237 states: “The Roman ruler Julius Caesar established January 1 as New Year’s Day in 46 BC. The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. The month of January was named after Janus, who had two faces – one looking forward and the other looking backward.” This suggests that New Year’s celebrations are founded on pagan traditions. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter. Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year. This was a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, “(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom].” The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year’s Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, was the first day of the new year until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The March 25 date was known as Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was known as Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from December 25 when Christ was believed to be born. This day was christened as the beginning of the New Year by Pope Gregory as he designed the Liturgical Calender.

As you can see there were a lot of events that happened on this day over the centuries. Some of them significant, even momentous, some not so much but interesting as a kind of trivia. I am not even going to attempt to edit that list today.

Thank you all so much for your work and contributions to this site. We at The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.  

New Year’s Day TV Day

The Hypnotoad.

"Television is a vast wasteland"

This will show me to close my eyes just when magical thinking and rooting could make a difference.  I’ll never change my socks again.


Today’s featured distractions are the 124th Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl, and the ‘Gator Bowl (drink named after the team and not the other way around).

This edition covers the 12 hours from 6 am to 6 pm.  Immediate gratification is here.  The previous edition is here.

Happy New Year 2013

To all of our friends and families may we all have a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Auld Lang Syne

President Obama is up to his same old tricks (if one gets the drift).

Hi, everybody:

Read this:


and either weep or gnash your teeth!

Hmm… -ek hornbeck

Obama Quietly Signs Abusive Spy Bill He Once Vowed to Eliminate

After Senate rejects oversight amendments, bill sails into law

Lauren McCauley, staff writer, Common Dreams


Under the cover of holiday weekend slumber, President Obama signed into law a five-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, successfully solidifying unchecked surveillance authority for the remainder of his presidency.

Known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law extends powers of the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls without obtaining a court order for each intercept.

The spying bill would have expired at the end of 2012 without the president’s approval.

Remind you of anything else?  Bueller… -ek hornbeck

Happy New Year: Countdown to 2013

The 2012 has already arrived in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Russia and most of Europe. Join us as we count down to midnight across the United States.

Live from Times Square, NYC

Happy New Year Celebration In Paris Eiffel Tower 2013


For those who are sitting comfortably at home and in need of entertainment.

New Year’s Eve TV Specials

8 pm

  • ABC– New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Celebrates Dick Clark
  • NickFull House (New Year Special, until 11 pm)
  • Turner ClassicAfter the Thin Man

10 pm

  • ABC– Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2013
  • NBC– NBC’s New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly

11 pm

  • Fox– New Year’s Eve Live! (until 12:30 am)
  • DisneyAustin & Jessie & Ally All Star New Year
  • Disney XDPhineas and Ferb For Your Ice Only, Happy New Year!)
  • ESPN2– SportsNation (New Year’s Jeers)
  • Faux Noise– All American New Year (until 12:30 am)
  • MSNBC– The Ed Show (Middle Class Heroes 2012)
  • MTV– MTV’s Club NYE 2013 (until 1 am)
  • National Geographic– Maya Underworld: The Real Doomsday
  • Nick– Friends (New Year Special, until 1 am)

11:30 pm

  • ABC– Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2013 (until 2 am)
  • NBC– NBC’s New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly
  • Toon– The Eric Andre New Year’s Eve Spooktacular! (until 12:15 am)
  • VH1– 11:59 pm New Year’s Eve 2013 (7 minute New Year Special)