The latest on the fiscal cliff talks indicate that House Republicans are joining forces around Speaker John Boehner, a rare occurrence over the past couple of years. The New York Times says this should make it easier for him to get a caucus on board to sign off on a deal. But these politicians are really on some stuff so you never know. (Case in point: Republicans voted against a UN treaty strengthening rights for the disabled even though it fell in line with laws that we’ve had in place for decades. Jon Stewart’s awesome take down here.)
But, the Times says, Republicans met yesterday, and came out of it with praise for Boehner. Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor even joined in the fun.
“Mr. Cantor signed on this week to Mr. Boehner’s package including $800 billion in new revenue, putting him squarely on the same page with the speaker,” the paper says. “Several Republicans said Wednesday that the combination of the onerous nature of the potential tax increases and spending cuts and the realities of the recent election combined to bolster Mr. Boehner’s support.” It only takes near-financial collapse to help them see the light.
Meanwhile, President Obama is keeping the pressure on, hosting a Twitter Q&A to discuss maintaining middle class tax cuts, a continuation of his My2K social media push he started last week. To reach business leaders, he appealed to them directly yesterday (even emptying a room of reporters to do so) asking them to accept higher taxes and vowing not to allow Republicans to use debt ceiling negotiations for leverage. “I will not play that game,” he said unequivocally. He has also met with business leaders at the White House and appeared on Bloomberg TV to talk about the issue, Politico reports.
The Atlantic has some great pie charts that break down the different plans for avoiding the fiscal cliff. A little dry, but it’s important to be in the know. (Separately and kind of not related, one of the people behind the Bowles-Simpson plan, 81-year-old former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, is pushing young people to get behind a deficit reduction push on social media with this video below, which has some serious LOL. h/t Mashable)
While all of this politicking is happening, Americans are genuinely worried about what’s going to happen. (Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that the administration is ready to go over the cliff if an acceptable deal isn’t reached, but that seems premature.) A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows 53 percent of voters believe that falling off the fiscal cliff will personally impact them in a negative way. Forty-eight percent of participants optimisitically believe that an agreement will be reached by the end of the year, ABC News says.
The consequences of not reaching a deal could have grave consequences for the black community. “Spending cuts to domestic programs… would impact African-Americans in more ways than one,” BET reports. “In addition to reductions in programs that some families depend on, such as Head Start, African-Americans, who are overrepresented in public sector jobs, could find themselves on the unemployment line.”
Public sector job cuts have already been a blight on the financial well-being of African Americans, black women in particular. Black Women’s Agenda, a 35-year-old Washington-based nonprofit, has officially thrown its support behind President Obama’s proposal. “”We believe that the President’s proposal best serves the interests of not just the constituencies that we and our collaborating organizations represent, but also the majority of the American people,” said the organization’s president Gwainevere Catchings Hess in a statement.
The Congressional Black Caucus has also thrown its support behind many of the President’s proposals, including an end to tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, implementation of Affordable Care Act, and an extension of unemployment benefits.
The President called in to the Tom Joyner show yesterday to talk about the fiscal cliff, reiterating his points about the pain that allowing ourselves to go over will cause.
“[T]his is a solvable problem,” the President said. “It should not be a crisis. And the main thing that I need folks to do is just contact your members of Congress and say to people, don’t let middle-class taxes go up right now. Don’t let working people carry the burden of deficit reduction when millionaires and billionaires aren’t doing their fair share,” reads the EurWeb transcription. Get on the horn with your Congresspeople!