‘Fiscal cliff’: Obama signs from Hawaii, Social Security changes and tax fantasies

January 3, 2013

‘Fiscal cliff’ bill signed by Obama by autopen in Hawaii: “The hard-fought legislation that allowed the United States to avoid the “fiscal cliff” was signed into law Wednesday by “autopen,” the White House said, less than a day after being approved in a contentious vote in the House of Representatives. President Obama, who interrupted a family vacation here to oversee the cliff negotiations in Washington, returned to Hawaii on an overnight flight that arrived early Wednesday.” (Washington Post)


The fiscal cliff deal is better than it looks: “To be deemed a serious analyst at the moment seems to require a lot of hand-wringing and sneering over how awful Congress looked the past few days as it rushed a “fiscal cliff” deal into law. So permit me to burn my membership card in the League of Commentators and Pundits. Of course, there was much wrong about how Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, dealt with the best-known deadline in recent political history. A better deal was available weeks ago. But in the end, some very important and positive things happened,” writes Brookings’ E.J. Dionne. (Washington Post)

Room for Debate asks: Legislation that Congress passed this week to avoid the fiscal cliff largely avoided major changes in Social Security, like reducing benefits, setting cost-of-living increases to a less-generous“chained” measure of inflation, or raising the retirement age. But many are demanding that such changes be discussed as part of broader negotiations over debt. Does Social Security need to be dealt with in long-term fiscal negotiations, or are its problems less crucial than some have argued? (New York Times)

How McConnell and Biden pulled Congress away from the ‘fiscal cliff.’ (Washington Post)

The spending cliff: “Twenty-three point nine trillion dollars. That will be our national debt in 2022 under the fiscal-cliff bill that just passed Congress. That’s nearly $4 trillion more than the current-law baseline, and while most of that comes from making the Bush tax cuts permanent for most Americans without offsetting the loss of revenue through spending cuts, at least $330 billion of the new debt results from the increased spending that was part of the deal. Our government debt will amount to more than 118 percent of GDP,” writes Cato’s Michael Tanner. (National Review

Has the ‘fiscal cliff’ changed how Washington works? “As ugly as they were, the “fiscal cliff” negotiations produced something Washington hadn’t seen in a long time: strongly bipartisan votes in the House and the Senate on a big, contentious issue. The question now is whether that victory of pragmatism over ideology offers a new model of governing as President Obama approaches his second term and the shattered Republican Party tries to regroup.” (Washington Post)

1950′s tax fantasy is a Republican nightmare: “Of course, 2013 will be fine, because the 1950s sure were. That’s the premise for the coming year, especially in regard to the agreement in Washington to raise U.S. tax rates on the well-off. In the 1950s, after all, tax rates were far higher than what the House and Senate have agreed on, a top rate in the high 30 percent range. Back then, they were even higher than what President Barack Obama might have proposed, if left to his own counsel. Republicans in that era went along with the idea that high rates took something away from the rich and thereby stabilized society,” writes CFR’s Amity Shlaes. (Bloomberg)

AEI’s Michael Barone: 2012 in demographics. (National Review

Thanks to gerrymandering, Democrats would need to win the popular vote by over 7 percent to take back the House. (ThinkProgress)

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Allen McDuffee · January 2, 2013