Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catnip 11/28/12: The Fiscal Tunnel


BART tunnel, lightened so you can see. These things are usually quite dark.
It's not a cliff, it's really a tunnel..

Can Obama change Washington ‘from the outside’? "A new Post poll out this morning confirms again that the public is on the side of Obama and Dems in this battle. Sixty percent of Americans favor raising taxes on incomes over $250,000. Sixty three percent of independents, 65 percent of moderates, and even 47 percent of conservatives, agree. By contrast, 67 percent of Americans oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age — as do 68 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of conservatives. And a plurality opposes reducing deductions — the preferred GOP approach. There is a widespread consensus that higher taxes on the rich must be part of any deficit solution, and that the core mission of major social programs and the safety net — and the social contract underlying them — should be left untouched for beneficiaries."

Democrats talk tough on entitlements in fiscal cliff debate: "Congressional Democrats are starting to draw a much tougher line on entitlements in the increasingly messy fiscal cliff talks, warning Republicans to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits. Democrats also say they’ll refuse to look at GOP calls to dramatically slash Medicaid. And for them to even entertain any changes to Medicare and Medicaid, they say the price is for Republicans to agree to far higher taxes than they have flirted with so far."

Boehner shoots down proposal to agree to Obama tax demand: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans on Wednesday shot down a proposal by a senior GOP lawmaker that the House agree to President Obama’s demand to extend current tax rates for the middle class. “I told Tom earlier in our conference meeting that I disagreed with him,” Boehner told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the House Republican conference. “He’s a wonderful friend of mine and a great supporter of mine. But raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent – half of those people are small business owners that pay their taxes through their personal income tax filing every year. The goal here is to grow the economy and to cut spending."

Romney, Obama to have lunch at the White House "Three weeks after facing defeat in his bid for the presidency, former GOP nominee Mitt Romney will head to the White House tomorrow for a private lunch with President Obama, according to the White House. The lunch, which will take place in the White House's Private Dining Room, will be the pair's first meeting since the election. There will be no press coverage."

Koch Bro's Americans for Prosperity release "Lame Duck Hunt," - lame duck Congress, get it? - a NES-themed politics game. (It makes you login in with Twitter or Facebook, and I didn't feel like doing that, so I await the reviews.)

BAD OPTICS IN WAR OVER WOMEN—HOUSE COMMITTEE CHAIRS ALL MEN: “Not a single woman will lead any of the major House committees in the 113th Congress,” Jake Sherman reports. “After a day of meetings closed to the public, the House Republican Steering Committee announced an all-male slate of committee chairs, including 12 returning lawmakers who will head up some of the most important panels in Washington…The top female contender to lead a major committee was Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, who lost a battle for the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee to Texas Rep. Mike McCaul… House Democrats are likely to have five women as ranking members.” Jake notes that there are women in leadership roles."

In case you wonder why Bowles and Simpson bother: they’re getting paid $80k a speech: “Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines. Ladies and gentlemen, coming soon to your city or town (if they have not been there already, and maybe even if they have) are the latest odd couple of politics: the 67-year-old Democratic straight man, Erskine B. Bowles of Charlotte, N.C., and his corny 81-year-old, 6-foot-7 Republican sidekick, Alan K. Simpson of Cody, Wyo.”

Benefits expansion for domestic partners would have small impact on costs, CBO says. “Extending federal employee health insurance and retirement survivor benefits to same-sex domestic partners would have a relatively small impact on the number of people covered and on the cost of those programs, according to an analysis done for Congress…[L]egislation would be required to make those partners eligible for two of the most valuable benefits, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program coverage and standard retirement survivor annuities.”

Energy officials see little hope for climate talks. “Top International Energy Agency (IEA) officials offered a bleak assessment Tuesday of the prospects for global progress on preventing big temperature increases…But the agency's analysts also see a ray of light, noting that a more aggressive deployment of energy efficiency technologies could keep the door open to limiting the rise to 2 degrees for a few years longer.”