‘Fiscal cliff’ and unbuilding America, North Korea’s rocket launch and further sanctions

December 12, 2012

Obama, Boehner trade ‘fiscal cliff’ proposals but appear no closer to a deal: “President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner were struggling late Tuesday to prevent negotiations from breaking down after they traded dueling proposals for averting the year-end “fiscal cliff” that made no progress toward an agreement. Obama telephoned Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday, hours after receiving the speaker’s latest proposal for a deal on taxes and spending. The offer was virtually identical to the document Obama summarily rejected just one week ago, according to Republican aides.” (Washington Post)


OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL/EPA – President Barack Obama speaks at a bipartisan group of congressional leaders as Speaker of the House John Boehner looks on in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

“It has largely gone unnoticed amidst the hullabaloo surrounding the fiscal cliff, but regardless of what happens with the cliff negotiations, taxes are going up next year. The president may be calling for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes by 2022 in exchange for not driving the country over the cliff, but that does not count Obamacare, which will impose an additional $1 trillion in new or increased taxes over the next ten years, a big portion of which take effect in 2013,” writes Cato’s Michael Tanner. (National Review)

Obama’s trump card on the debt limit: “Mr. President, it’s unbecoming for a columnist to beg, but since you’ve ruled out “going constitutional” on the debt limit, and CEOs won’t flex enough muscle to stop Republicans from using it for blackmail again, I’m down on my knees.  You simply have to enlist the press to generate a roar of protest against GOP hypocrisy and recklessness here — or else doom us to lurching painfully (and pathetically) from “fiscal cliff” to “debt cliff” for months. The good news is this can be done with an investment of a mere five minutes of your time. So here’s a plan,” writes CAP’s Matt Miller. (Washington Post)

New at The Washington Post: Open for Discussion! Six experts debate “Syria and chemical weapons: What can the U.S. do now?” 

Fiscal cliff may unbuild America: “If you want a concrete example of the unanticipated harm that could come from the U.S. going over the fiscal cliff, look no further than Build America Bonds, an efficient alternative way to subsidize state and local investments. They are part of the spending that is scheduled to be reduced in January. Build America Bonds, which were created in the 2009 stimulus bill, are a shining example of the right way to subsidize activities through the tax code. The wrong way — which is also the way virtually all other tax subsidies are structured — is to provide a tax deduction or exclusion. This means that the tax break per dollar of subsidized activity varies with the taxpayer’s marginal rate, and that is both unfair and inefficient,” writes CFR’s Peter Orszag. (Bloomberg)

North Korea launches long-range rocket: “North Korea on Wednesday successfully fired into orbit a long-range rocket carrying a satellite, an outside aerospace monitoring organization said, a major advance in the authoritarian nation’s weapons program. According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint organization of the United States and Canada, North Korea “deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit” after the first and second stages of the rocket dropped into the sea.” (Washington Post)  

“North Koreans danced in the streets of their capital Wednesday after the Pyongyang regime successfully fired a long-range rocket, defying international warnings and taking a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile. The rocket launch will enhance the credentials of 20-something leader Kim Jong Un at home a year after he took power following the death of his father Kim Jong Il. It is also likely to bring fresh sanctions and other punishments from the U.S. and its allies, which were quick to condemn the launch as a test of technology for a missile that could attack the U.S. mainland. Pyongyang says it was merely a peaceful effort to put a satellite into orbit.” (Washington Post)

Reform is needed to save Medicare: Entitlement reform is a major sticking point in “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has proposed cutting $900 billion in entitlement spending over the next decade, and President Obama’s plan doesn’t include entitlement reform. Rather than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s system of rationing care, and paying doctors on the basis of outcomes, America needs to inject more choice into Medicare. As politicians wrangle over the fiscal cliff, long-term entitlement reform should be part of the discussion,” writes Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott Roth. (Washington Examiner)

Obama Suggests Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Is On The Table In Fiscal Cliff Talks: “President Obama didn’t rule out raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 as part of a comprehensive package to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” during an interview with ABC News on Tuesday.” (ThinkProgress)

AEI’s Jonah Goldberg: GOP not a club for Christians. (National Review)

Washington’s evolving think tanks. (Politico)

Tony Gambino and Michael O’Hanlon: U.S. must step forward to stabilize Congo. (Politico

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Allen McDuffee · December 12, 2012