Time To Move Beyond The Fiscal Cliff

Dear Georgia Republicans – specifically those who are currently elected to Congress.

None of us are really happy with the fiscal cliff deal.  I’m guessing you probably aren’t either.  We wanted a “grand bargain”. There’s nothing grand about this, really.  We still have real problems to solve.  But politically, we’re playing this one wrong.

For over 10 years we’ve heard the Democrats say that the Bush tax cuts weren’t helping the economy, hurt the economy, or only favored the rich.

Now, we have them demanding not only that we keep 99.1% of them, but that we make them permanent.  In addition to locking in all but one income tax rate from the Bush package, we get a permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, A reduced rate in the estate tax plus a new $5 Million dollar threshold.  Further, that threshold will be indexed to inflation – something that the far left is absolutely apoplectic about.

Instead of declaring this a victory in the battle that lower taxes and certainty of permanent tax rates spurs the economy, many of us have switched positions now that many Democrats are agreeing.  Instead, Congressional Budget Office projections of $4 Trillion added to the 10 year debt are being used by many to torpedo this deal.

There was a time when Republicans argued that CBO’s static analysis can’t account for the growth from low taxes.  Now, we have some who seem to be arguing that we need higher taxes across the board to decrease the deficit because of those same numbers. The inconsistency is palpable.

Yes, we wanted lower spending as part of this deal.  There’s still a debt ceiling vote sometime in late February and a Continuing Resolution that must be passed in March.  Republicans are in a better position to isolate the spending issue with lower permanent tax rates as an issue already solved.

The Bush Tax Cuts were ours.  If we vote down the bill that keeps them permanent for 99.1% of Americans, then they are no longer a Republican position.  It’s past time we figure out our messaging.  This current flailing about isn’t helping that one bit.

Let’s suck it up, accept this is the best we could get given our position, and move on to articulating why certain programs need to be curtailed or eliminated.  Declare victory on this battle and begin full engagement on the next one.


  1. mpierce says:

    What happened to a balanced approach the President ran on? Where are the spending cuts? This piece of cr*p is not worthy of a yes vote. Any bets on whether Obama claims he has the authority to raise the debt ceiling himself when it comes up?

    Bottom line, with passage of this bill, there will likely not be any spending cuts or fiscal sanity coming from Washington any time soon.

  2. Charlie says:

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) released the following statement regarding his vote on the deal that attempts to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

    Congressman Barrow said:

    “When we began discussions on getting our nation’s finances in order, our mission was to go big – reform our tax code, cut spending, and put us on a long-term path to deficit reduction. The package we’re voting on today doesn’t achieve any of these goals. I can’t support a plan that does nothing to address our debt, doesn’t make the necessary cuts in federal spending we need right now, and sets us up for another fiscal cliff in just a couple of months. I’m glad negotiators answered our call to block a pay increase for members of Congress, but it’s not nearly enough to put this country on the right path. This proposal isn’t a long-term solution — it just kicks the can two months down the road.

    “Our nation’s debt is unsustainable, federal spending is out of control, and without seriously reforming our tax code, families in Georgia and across the country, regardless of their income levels, will pay more in taxes than is necessary. We need bold action to ensure that future generations aren’t saddled with our debt, but partisanship is holding us back. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in the House to address these issues, but the bare minimum, like his package, isn’t good enough for the folks I represent.”

  3. Charlie says:

    Rep. Graves Statement On Senate Fiscal Cliff Bill

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-09) issued the following statement on the fiscal cliff legislation passed by the U.S. Senate earlier today:

    “The Senate bill offers no commitment to debt reduction, only a demand from taxpayers to bailout Washington. As taxes rise, freedom diminishes. Without any spending reforms, the debt crisis continues. I cannot support a bill that protects Washington and promotes bigger government at the expense of my constituents and future generations.

    “What began in 2011 as an effort to address our nation’s debt crisis has been twisted by the president into a mandate to raise taxes. Every effort to reform spending has been bucked in favor of raiding the wallets of hardworking Americans.

    “If Congress does not work with more conviction to solve the spending problem, we may soon realize we’re already over the cliff, and in a fiscal freefall.”

  4. mpierce says:

    Final vote

    Dems 91% in favor
    Reps 64% opposed

    As much as I can’t stand Harry Reid, he would have never allowed a vote with numbers like that. Boehner needs to find a backbone.

    • Grandson of Flubber says:

      Boehner will never find a backbone unless he is undercutting fellow Republicans. Boehner needs to be replaced. Complete failure as a Republican leader. Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House. Enough is enough.

      • mpierce says:

        I think Ryan would be better than Boehner, but I’m not really sure about him. He’s talks the talk, but when it’s time to vote he follows the party leaders instead of taking a stand. He voted for this and for TARP.

          • Grandson of Flubber says:

            At the time I wrote the comment, I was unaware Ryan voted for it and “was whipping votes for it”. My mistake. My opinion remains that Boehner needs to be replaced as Speaker. So, which fiscal conservative currently in the house has the strength of conviction, fortitude, communication skills, and gravitas to lead? Ryan may or may not be the one, but there are others in the House who have these attributes.

            • Bob Loblaw says:

              If you were that unaware, then I find you equally unaware to the extent of the politics of leadership and that your opinion on the matter is irrelevant. Go back to watching Fox News and being angry at everyone.

              • Grandson of Flubber says:

                You truly are the Biblical animal that carried Mary into Bethlehem. Since you are such a low life jerk, no soup for your, DW.

                • Grandson of Flubber says:

                  Correction: Since you are such a low life jerk, no soup for you, DW.

                  You will forever be ignored.

                • Bob Loblaw says:

                  It is an honor to be associated with anything that carried the mother of my Savior! Soup or no, thank you very much.

          • mpierce says:

            My point is that he has been a go along to get along guy. I don’t have an issue with that when a bill is a fair compromise and beneficial to the country. I see this as neither and looking at the vote I doubt I’m alone on that. Maybe he disagrees with the majority of his party colleagues or maybe he is just following his party leader. The latter option gives me doubts.

            As I said I think he would be better than Boehner, but I still have some doubts about him.

            • Bob Loblaw says:

              Go along to get along? He’s been the one guy in the whole negotiating over this thing that wouldn’t go along! The Senate? Ready to go along. The President? Look how far he moved off of his positions? The Speaker had to bring a bill to the floor to keep any negotiating leverage or credibility with the leaders of the Senate and the White House. Guys like Ryan get it–they got behind the Speaker when there was no room left for negotiation and failing to bring a bill to the floor would have been irresponsible and cut his ability to get a deal in the future for the Republicans.

              The Republicans that voted no because there weren’t enough spending cuts forgot that voting against keeping taxes low on 99% of taxpayers is terrible politics. “When Congressman X had a chance to vote to keep your taxes from going up, he said NO so those making $450,000 a year wouldn’t get a tax increase on every dollar after the $450,000th.”

              Terrible politics. I’d of voted yes, said I kept your taxes from going up and filed legislation to address spending cuts. The markets are up all over the world today because the U.S. now looks like the government can be counted on to operate in its most basic form: Ways and Means.

              • mpierce says:

                We went from:
                $1 in revenue for $3 in cuts
                $1 in revenue for $1 in cuts
                and ended up with
                $41 in revenue for $1 in cuts

                Wow, impressive. How could anyone say no to that great offer.

                Went from absolute demand that all revenues come from cutting tax loopholes
                Revenues will come from tax rate hikes.

                • mpierce says:

                  Oh yeah, I forgot a promise to address spending later. Hmm.. I’ve heard that before.

                  Maybe someone should show Republican leaders a few episodes of Charlie Brown.

              • mpierce says:

                The markets are up all over the world today because the U.S. now looks like the government can be counted on to continue subsidizing markets all over the world at the expense of its own future

  5. xdog says:

    “The inconsistency is palpable.”

    I’d use ‘insanity’ but yes. You should tell it to Cantor and McCarthy.

    Meanwhile, the House has managed to be persuaded to kick the whole mess down the road for 2 months. See you in March when goper absolutists start spitting out their pacifiers again.

  6. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    The Republicans do not own fiscal responsibility any more than they own morality in this country. It always puzzles me when Democrats do the right thing and GOPers interpret that as somehow stealing the Republican platform. “Flailing about” is the perfect description of how the Georgia GOP Congressional delegation is behaving. What happened to bipartisan leadership? Stop acting like Gingrich’s Party of No and start working with the Democrats to craft meaningful spending cuts.


  7. northside101 says:

    Wonder how many senators and repersentatives actually read all 150 pages of the legislation? How could there possibly have been enough time to do so given the Senate had passed it less than 24 hours earlier? And aren’t there rules about legislation having to go to certain committee, get seperate readings on different days? (Not familiar with the rules of Congress)

  8. Speaking of inconsistency, Better Georgia delivered groceries to Woodall’s and Gingrey’s offices saying tax increases in the deal would hurt families. Woodall and Gingrey agreed and voted no, yet Better Georgia told the AJC the deal must pass. Then they delivered coal to Chambliss’ office because he complained about the deal before voting yes. Huh? These guys are the leading progressive group in Georgia?


    • Bob Loblaw says:

      They should deliver groceries to folks that need food instead of something so lame as this. I hope the offices donate the food to the local food bank.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Haven’t had time to look at the details but there will probably be an interesting list of pork winners when we read the bill to know what is in it.

  10. saltycracker says:

    Haven’t had time to look at the details but there will probably be an interesting list of pork winners when we read the bill to know what is in it.

  11. Three Jack says:

    It’s a lousy deal orchestrated by an equally lousy group of lifelong bureaucrats. But it is the best that can be expected considering the people we have chosen to represent us.

    Please define ‘permanent’ for me…as in 99.1% of Americans will see their rates become permanent. Does this mean no attempt at real tax reform will take place because 99.1% have been assigned ‘permanent’ tax rates? My view, nothing is permanent in DC except the bureaucrats who keep coming up with new ways to screw taxpayers.

    • Charlie says:

      Permanent has a very easy definition in DC tax code. It means that unlike the Bush tax cuts, there isn’t an automatic sunset on the rates. As such, there won’t have to be any more extensions where these rates are used as a bargaining chip, whereas Republicans are having to fight and make concessions just to keep the status quo.

      Yes, they can always try to raise rates, which then gets tagged clearly as a tax increase (even many Dems avoid that). And, of course, if Republicans can ever get their act together and get a Senate Majority and/or the White House, they may even be in a position to lower this top rate that so many are going nuts over it reverting back to pre-Bush rates.

      Friendly reminder though: Republicans held the House, Senate, and White House and couldn’t make these rates permanent. Now they just hold the House and managed to do so. And yet, the circular firing squad wants larger ammo clips.

      • Three Jack says:

        Permanent: continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change – Merriam Webster

        That definition is what concerns me. I never wanted the so-called Bush tax cuts to be permanent, just a breather from Clinton tax hikes until rational reform of the antiquated revenue system could be ratified. Now GOPers have another excuse to avoid tax reform if they somehow manage to stop stepping on their third legs long enough to get a working majority again.

        • Charlie says:

          And that’s exactly why you should want these rates “permanent”. Consider those air quotes if it helps.

          So long as these rates were temporary, Republicans could (and did) spend an awful lot of energy just on keeping the status quo. Why push for reform when you could keep the base happy just re-fighting the same fight? Look at the reaction from many on the hard right and tell me this isn’t true. A large part of our party is wrapped around the axel because they didn’t fight hard enough to keep all these temporary cuts permanent.

          The tax rate issue is largely off the table for Republicans now. They’ll need a new trick, and hopefully real tax reform will be it. I’m not sure even the leaders have grasped this yet, but instead of constant complaining about marginal tax rates in a broken system, it’s time for someone to lead a movement about real tax reform.

          • Three Jack says:

            You have much more faith in the GOP than I Charlie. I think they will muster behind the message that ‘we got permanent tax cuts for 99% of you, so let’s move on to another issue’.

            • Charlie says:

              My faith stays with my God. We’re talking about politics, and that’s not about having faith, that’s about understanding the motivations of those we elect and the people that elect them, and planning and executing a strategy around that which serves the goals and philosophies that we want.

              We’ve spent 12 years of GOP limited government capital fighting over 3-5% differences in marginal tax rates while invoking Reagan. Reagan cut marginal tax rates as much as 40%. There’s not much of a second act left after that, but we’ve managed to beat that horse for an extra two decades.

              Republicans jumped on the 9-9-9 plan because it was simple and easy to relate to. While I don’t that that or a FairTax! are a silver bullet, coming up with something like that where the numbers work would go a long way towards Republicans regaining the high ground on the tax issue.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                If Republicans want REAL tax reform they should advocate for all federal, state and local income and sales taxes to be eliminated and replaced with a simple corporate tax of no more than 40% (with an idea split of no more than 23-25% for the feds, 10-11% for each state and 5-7% for each local government).

                • mpierce says:

                  Shouldn’t states and locals be able to decide for themselves what level of taxation is right for their community?

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    Yes, they should…inside of federally-mandated caps that keeps them from collecting too much in taxes like, say, places like California, New York and Illinois where one can end up paying as much as 60% of their personal income towards just combined federal, state and local INCOME taxes.

                    That 60% of income spent on combined fed, state and local income taxes doesn’t even account for the additional amounts of income that one may spend on sales and property taxes.

                    • mpierce says:

                      The feds have too much power already. I don’t want them dictating to the states how much they should collect in taxes.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      mpierce January 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm-

                      I agree that the feds have too much power already. Eliminating the federal income tax and replacing it with a simple flat corporate tax that is capped (preferably by way of constitutional mandate) at no more than 25% will limit that federal power greatly and keep it in check.

                      Capping the amount of tax that state and local governments can collect will also place much-needed limits on those governments as well (the way that many state governments limit how much municipal governments can collect in sales and property taxes by way of state legislative constitutional caps). Because ALL levels of government need to be kept in firmly in check, not just the federal government.

              • Trey A. says:

                Charlie, your post here and comments highlight the overarching problem. Businessweek recently said essentially the same thing: The Reagan momentum is over. For 20 years post Watergate, the GOP was the party of big ideas. Now, it is acting like the Carter-era Democrats–beating a tired old drum to no avail (for Carter, it was New Deal/LBJ era liberalism. For today’s angry GOPers, it’s the Reaganism). We need new big ideas and new leaders. It’s as simple as that. They simply haven’t stepped up to the plate.

            • Bob Loblaw says:

              “We” got permanent tax cut for 99% of you?

              Since this is a GA politics blog, we can easily point to the fact that every GA House Member won’t be able to make this claim. This was a bi-partisan “we” and the saber-rattlers stood behind their friends that bank close to a half-million a year. Yep. The 1%.

              • Three Jack says:

                Actually Bob, the fight was over raising any tax rates before agreeing to spending cuts. Unfortunately for 77% of taxpaying households, we got a tax increase because the GOP lost this battle long ago when they failed to act on rational reforms when they had majority control.

                • Three Jack says:


                  We agree on the need for tax reform. But it’s hard to believe (have faith, whatever) in the will of GOP leadership to pursue such a lofty goal. I hope I’m wrong.

  12. gcp says:

    Yes Mr. Barrow and Mr. Graves, many of us know we need to cut spending and reform the tax code. Can you please give some specifics or are you too afraid that you may offend someone by actually giving specifics?

  13. IndyInjun says:

    There never was a fiscal cliff for us….we are riding on the beautiful fiat money balloon to heaven.

    Bernanke has no limit to the bounty he can dole out. A few keystrokes can make $16 quintillion, if need be.

    Quit being such nags.

    Relax and enjoy the heights.

  14. John Konop says:

    An editorial from China…………The get it, but they are holding a lot of our money and debt…………………Hopefully we can get our arms around this in round 2……………….

    ………In a democracy like the United States, tax increases and spending cuts, the exact dose of medicine needed to cure its chronic debt disease, have long proved hugely unpopular among voters. So the politicians have chosen to kick the can down the road again and again.

    But as we all know, the can will never disappear. Sometime and somewhere, you might trip over it and fall hard on the ground, or in the U.S. case, into an abyss you can never come out of…….


  15. elfiii says:

    @ Dr Monica Henson – Stop acting like Gingrich’s Party of No and start working with the Democrats to craft meaningful spending cuts.

    What “meaningful spending cuts” have Democrats offered Monica? Answer me soon. I’m hanging on tenterhooks.

    • Dr. Monica Henson says:

      None that I’m aware of thus far from Congressional Dems or the President. Both sides need to get off their hind ends and get to work–but if the Republicans are committed to resistance to any proposals simply to continue their mindless opposition to the President, then it won’t get anywhere.

  16. Charlie says:

    Westmoreland: “We Don’t Have a Revenue Problem in This Country – We Have a Spending Problem”

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the House of Representatives voted on legislation that would allow the tax rates on some American families and small businesses to increase, while at the same time included no spending cuts. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation would add roughly $4 trillion to our debt over the next ten years. Congressman Westmoreland, a vocal opponent of raising tax rates without addressing spending, opposed the legislation. Below is his statement.

    “The American people are sick of Washington politics and temporary ‘fixes’ that don’t really fix anything. They want to see us take real actions with real solutions to the real problems we face – especially our mounting debt. Over the last four years since President Obama took office, our debt has risen from a little over $10 trillion to more than $16 trillion. That’s a 60 percent increase. And it’s only getting worse. Did you know that our country borrows roughly $6 billion every day? That’s $239 million every hour, or $4 million every minute.

    “Let’s look at the reality of our overall tax situation. Between 2007 and 2009, the bottom 20 percent of American earners paid just three-tenths of a percent of the total tax burden while the richest 20 percent paid 67.9 percent. And now the president and Congressional Democrats want us to force them to pay even more.

    “I do not believe we need to raise income tax rates to find a successful approach to handling our debt. And I won’t support this legislation that raises tax rates without addressing the real driver of our debt – spending. Higher taxes are not a real answer to our fiscal problem in Washington. In fact, if we went even further to what President Obama wants and raised taxes on those who make $250,000 and more, it would only cover about eight and a half days of his bloated spending. We don’t have a revenue problem in this country – we have a spending problem,” stated Westmoreland.

    • IndyInjun says:

      We have no problems. The Fed can and will fund unlimited spending at no cost to any of us.

      The dollar prices 60% of world commerce and is indispensable. We create them in the the Fed’s computers and use them to maintain our dominance.

      This can never end.

    • Bill Dawers says:

      I don’t follow Westmoreland’s politics closely, but if spending in general is really the biggest worry, House Republicans should just block any type of deal to lessen the impact of the $1.2 trillion sequester, which will eventually kick in and take a huge bite out of discretionary spending, especially the military.

      Or the American people need to hear exactly what entitlement cuts the Republicans in the House would vote for. (They already voted of course for the Ryan budget, but that was more show than reality since they knew it wouldn’t move ahead.) Any cuts to Social Security or Medicare are wildly unpopular with voters, including Republican voters in November.

      Just given the math, it’s impossible to maintain anything close to the current level of entitlements for older Americans without some dramatic increases in revenue.

        • IndyInjun says:

          No, we need to cut taxes to zero to prove that the Laffer Curve works and that Bernanke ponzinomics obviates the need for revenue, as long as the funds can be borrowed without limit and without cost.

  17. Bob Loblaw says:

    We have a problem when Republicans think that they can keep taxes lower for those making less than $450k a family and that those making more than that will have their taxes increased on the amount above the $450k. The GOP literally stood behind the 1%.

    Sometimes in this business you have to admit when your opponent holds better cards. Good luck explaining to everyone with incomes ranging from poverty to $450,000 annually why you voted against their taxes going up.

  18. IndyInjun says:

    You guys need to wake up. The $16 trillion in US debt was accumulated since the dawn of the republic. The FED created $16 trillion in debt to backstop the banks in a matter of months and there is NO LIMIT to their power to do the same for the people. Shoot, they should just send every US family $1.2 million checks. That would allow them to pay off debts and would send the US economy into the stratosphere.

    My early years on PP were too focused upon mathematics and the Rule of Law. The ‘powers’ on this site beat me roundly for that. Those concerns were passe. We are ALL Keynesians now indeed.

    You won, so what is all the bitching and moaning about? Bernanke and Obama have your backs – infinitely.

  19. saltycracker says:

    Years ago in an intense, emotional negotiation with a powerful
    Exec one of the involved asked him “do you really think that is fair ?”
    He screamed back “FAIR ? FAIR ? F**K FAIR ”
    It became our inside laugh for years until Obamaspeak stole it.

    We didn’t just have the most expensive campaign in history to develop a Fair Tax with everyone with skin in the game.

  20. IndyInjun says:

    “We didn’t just have the most expensive campaign in history to develop a Fair Tax with everyone with skin in the game.”

    The Fair Tax, as it was developed, skins everyone in the game.

  21. Jackster says:

    I’m a bit disappointed that my congressman (Woodall) used some one off CBO stats to justify his position. His position better focus squarely on actual justification for meaningful spending cuts very soon, as he did not incorporate an appreciation for the larger issue during this vote.

    The sad thing is his competition during his primary and general didn’t seem to grasp these issues, either. I’m hoping either the R’s put forth someone who has a broader view of the world during his next primary, or the D’s put forth someone a lot less smarmy than Steve Reily.

  22. Charlie says:


    Cites increased spending, unbalanced approach

    Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) issued the following statement after voting against a legislative package intended to avert the fiscal cliff:

    “Our ultimate goal in the process was to address tax rates and reduce the deficit. The package we voted on only addressed the tax issue not the deficit reduction.

    “Delaying the spending cuts – the ones already on in August 2011 – is especially worrisome. Does anyone really believe attitudes toward less spending will be any different in March than they are today? The fiscal cliff deadline was created in August 2011 and nothing happened in the Senate until last week. If we did not get religion in sixteen months, I doubt we’ll get it in two.

    “According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the package we passed last night actually adds $4 trillion to the national debt. With $600 billion in new taxes, it contains $10 in tax increases for every $1 in spending reduction. This merely increases the deficit rather than shrinks it and we could have done better.”

    • IndyInjun says:

      So saith one of the more effective appropriators in Congress, Seenbetr, so I tend to agree. Dems or GOP, both are poison to you and me.

      There never was going to be a hard landing, because of Ben Bernanke’s rescue with his legendary money helicopter.

  23. seenbetrdayz says:

    Is it necessarily wise to move beyond a cliff? . . . I hear it isn’t the fall that gets you, it’s the landing.

    But seriously, this fiscal cliff nonsense will be back in about 2 years. The county is still faced with an insurmountable debt that our children’s children’s children will be working 3 jobs to pay off. I see no way out by relying on D.C. critters.

  24. mpierce says:

    More great benefits from the fiscal cliff deal

    $480 million in aid for rum production.
    up to $2,500 in tax credits for purchasing electric scooters.
    $430 billion in tax breaks for Hollywood (no rich people there?)
    Tax breaks for Motorsport Race Track Owners (middle class tax relief?)
    $59 million in tax credits for algae growers
    Subsidies for asparagus growers.

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