The Dynamic Duo Take the Oath

Never in American history has a president and vice president formed a team like these two.

It’s … 

Tonto and the Lone Ranger

The Dude and Walter

Buzz Light Year and Woody

Chester and Marshall Dillon

All Over Again

 

 

 

New Congressional Motto: Country Last

The Senate passed the Biden/McConnell compromise bill last night. Now, it has to go to the House of Representatives.

Among other things, the bill delays some of the decisions that have been holding things up for two months. In other words, our elected leaders plan to put themselves and this country through this again in two months. All because they couldn’t manage to do their jobs now.

Evidently, if  Vice President Biden didn’t have the personal relationships with various senators that he does, we wouldn’t even have this compromise. The message in this, so far as I’m concerned, is that maybe civility does have a place in better government. This hate-filled what’s-in-it-for-me brinksmanship certainly isn’t doing us much good.

An ABC News article that explains the real issues behind this fight surprisingly well says in part:

Going over the “fiscal cliff” may seem irresponsible and self-destructive for the nation as a whole, but it’s a politically logical, self-preserving step for many individual lawmakers.

They come from districts where ideological voters abhor tax hikes, or spending cuts, that anybipartisan compromise must include. Many of these voters detest compromise itself, telling elected officials to stick to partisan ideals or be gone.

That’s why the fiscal cliff is just one in a continuing string of wrenching, demoralizing impasses on tax-and-spending showdowns, which threaten the nation’s economic recovery.

A breach of the fiscal cliff’s midnight deadline became inevitable late Monday when House leaders said they couldn’t keep waiting for the Senate to send a bill their way. The House may reconvene in a day or two to vote on a White House-blessed deal to curtail the new package of tax hikes and spending cuts, which technically start with the new year. But it’s painfully apparent that partisan warfare sent the government past a line that could alarm financial markets and further undermine faith in America’s leaders, at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, the political realities that made a bigger solution impossible will not change any time soon. That raises red flags for upcoming fiscal clashes, especially the need to raise the government’s borrowing limit in a few months to avoid defaulting on federal debt …

… The vast majority of congressional Republicans have vowed never to approve higher tax rates. It’s no idle promise. Many of them preferred to let the fiscal cliff deadline pass, causing tax rates to rise on nearly all American workers, at least for a time. Then, presumably this week, they can vote to cut taxes for around 98 percent of Americans, rather than vote in December to raise rates on the richest 2 percent and avoid the cliff. (Read more here.)

What that last paragraph means is that the House Republicans have deliberately left the country go past the fiscal cliff. The reason is that, since the effect of doing this is an automatic raise in taxes on ordinary Americans, they will be voting for a tax cut when they pass the Senate compromise bill.

It’s all a shell game designed to let them say that they voted to cut taxes on their campaign pieces. That’s why they’re putting this country through this.

A CNN article describing the compromise bill and the legislative process it faces says in part:

(CNN) – If a Senate deal to avert the fiscal cliff becomes law, all but a sliver of the U.S. population will avoid higher tax rates, some key issues will be put off for two months, and all sides in the battle will emerge with a mixed record: winning key points, while ceding ground on others.

The deal, which passed the Democratic-controlled Senate in an overwhelming 89-8 vote in the middle of the night, would maintain tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000. Technically, it would reinstate cuts that expired at midnight.

It would raise tax rates for those over those levels — marking the first time in two decades the rates jump for the wealthiest Americans.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House. GOP members planned to meet at 1 p.m., two aides told CNN.

“The purpose of this meeting is to review what the Senate has passed, discuss potential options, and seek member feedback. No decision on the path forward is expected before another member meeting that will be held later today,” one GOP leadership aide said. (Read more here.)

Biden Holds First Gun Control Meeting

Vice President Joe Biden began meetings on possible gun control legislation today.

The most interesting point, at least for me, is that the vice president indicated that he expects votes on whatever he proposes after the first of the year.

I interpret that to mean that the President has probably decided not to issue executive orders about this, at least for now.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives has announced a push to ban the sale of high capacity magazines. This is not a new idea. Senate Democrats tried to attach such a ban to an unrelated piece of legislation last summer.

What all this means to us is that we have a window of time to think about this and decide what we want our Congress and president to do. From all indications, the Democrats are focusing their efforts on gun-control and ammunition control legislation. Although they mention a more comprehensive approach in their comments, the focus and the first thing they mention is always guns.

I’m going to try to write several posts that I hope will lead Public Catholic readers into a serious conversation of all these issues. It’s our country and we need to be part of the discussion about its future.

The article concerning Vice President Biden’s meeting today says in part:

Wasting no time, Vice President Joe Biden meets on Thursday with “law enforcement leaders” from across the country to launch work on a series of recommendations to battle gun violence in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
The 1 p.m. meeting is to include White House officials, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the White House said.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday tasked Biden with leading an administrationwide effort to craft concrete proposals for tackling what Obama called an “epidemic” of gun violence. The vice president will report back no later than January.
Obama pushed Congress to pass a series of traditional gun control measures quickly. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons,” he said on Wednesday. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.”
He added, “I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner.”
But he also embraced a broader approach, stressing that “there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”(Read more here.)


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