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Dr. Wilmer Leon: Why We’re Even Closer to the Fiscal Cliff

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Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

During the 2012 campaign President Obama told the electorate that he would raise taxes on those making over $250K in order to generate much needed revenues and avoid going over the fiscal cliff. President Obama won reelection with a convincing margin; some would say a mandate even though Republicans still control the House.

Here we stand on Friday, December 28th on the edge of the ledge that is the fiscal cliff; seemingly no closer to a deal than we were a month ago, or are we?

Last week House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) threatened America by walking away from the negotiations and tried to bully President Obama with his “Plan B” vote.  Boehner said that after Plan B passes the House, “Then, the president will have a decision to make…He (the president) can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in history.”  In spite of all of Boehner’s bravado, the “Plan B” vote failed.  Boehner could not slap enough backs and twist enough arms within his own caucus. Alas, the Emperor has no clothes.

In response to his failure, Boehner issued the following statement saying in part, “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.”   Boehner’s counterpart in the Senate, Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has said, “Look: It’s the president’s job to find a solution that can pass Congress. He’s the only one who can do it…This isn’t John Boehner’s problem to solve.”

Both Boehner and McConnell’s analysis would be correct except for one minor detail, the Constitution of theUnited States.  Article 1; Section 7 states, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”  If we move beyond the political rhetoric and focus on the Constitution it is Boehner’s job to lead his hypocritical, obtuse, and obstructionist caucus towards the solution that works out best for the American people. Keep this clause in mind the next time a member of Congress rants about overspending. Since “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” instead of blaming the President; Congress should first look at themselves.

We’ve come to the 11th hour.  The last payable week for all claimants receiving federal unemployment benefits will be the week ending Saturday Dec. 29th. They will receive their last payment the first week of January.  If a solution is not agreed to by January 1, 2013 the average combined tax increase on a family making over $50K per year will be approximately $3,500.

Why are Republicans holding their ground?  They believe that President Obama will cave in at the last minute. He said during the 2008 campaign that he would not sign Health Care Reform legislation that did not contain the public option; he did.  He said during the 2010 mid-term elections that he would not sign legislation extending the Bush Era tax cuts; he did.  During the 2012 DC-Autonomy Bill debate President Obama threw in the prohibition against the District government using its own funds to pay for abortions.  President Obama is reported to have said, ““John, I will give you D.C. abortion, but I am not happy about it,” Obama infamously told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at the time, referring to language in the budget bill that would prevent D.C. from using its own locally raised funds to help women pay for abortions.”

In this current round of fiscal cliff negotiations President Obama has gone from increasing taxes on income over $250K to increasing taxes on income over $400K. Also, President Obama has conceded to make changes to Social Security that are unnecessary.  According to Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), “The people of this nation are depending upon us to be true to our word…I don’t know how many members ran on a promise not to cut Social Security.  Now, without any hard proposal to raise taxes on the rich, some are using Social Security as a carrot to get a deal.  We cannot, and we must not play with the lives of senior citizens.”

Boehner in his Plan B wants $1M base to increase revenues.  I hope I’m wrong but I predict the deal will get cut (if it’s not already).  Why else would Boehner allow the House to stay away for theHoliday’s?  The “deal” will look very similar to Boehner’s failed Plan B with extensions to unemployment benefits, and unnecessary Social Security cuts thrown in for good measure; leaving many to ask was this compromise or conspiracy.

 

Happy New Year!

 

© 2012 InfoWave Communications, LLC Dr. Wilmer Leon is a political scientist at Howard University and host of the nationally broadcast call in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon” on Sirius/XM channel 128. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or Dr. Leon’s Prescription @ Facebook.com or www.twitter.com/drwleon

 

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