What a mess our country has with our lack of leadership and accountability in Washington, D.C. The so called "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations reveal just how shallow and institutionalized our elected officials are in our country's most powerful positions.
Here's how it happened...
In the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R) was ignored by Harry Reid when Mitch presented 4 offers to negotiate. McConnell proceeded to contact VP Joe Biden for guidance. In essence, Joe Biden struck the deal with McConnell, then sold it to the Dems when Harry Reid froze up and loss the mojo to make a deal.
- Citizens earning $400,000 and less avoid increase in income tax.
- Citizens earning more than $400,000 will face higher taxes with the highest tax bracket paying 39.6% of annual income to the federal government.
- Estate taxes are maintained, except for estates valued $5 Million and more. After $5 Million, must pay 40% tax.
- Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is permanently extended.
- 2% payroll tax expires affecting all employed citizens.
- The sequestration spending cuts were delayed until March 1st.
The Senate votes. The Senate voted at 2:00am in the early hours of New Year's Day. Preceding the vote, Harry Reid allowed the Republicans only ten minutes to debate a bill of this magnitude. The Senate vote: 89-8 passing to the House for approval. Notable Republican 'no' votes include: Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.
Now the House of Representatives dominated by a Republican majority is faced with another boondoggle of big government to take action on. House Speaker Boehner makes a move to force it to a vote without allowing any amendments. This bill splits the House Republicans into two groups, one for and one against the bill as it stands without amendments. Pelosi and Democrats work to coalesce plenty of votes to make up the difference to assure passage.
The House votes. Preceding the vote, only one hour of debate was allowed on the bill. (Remember, a normal bill would go through hours, possibly days of debate in a committee before ever coming to the floor for vote.) Pelosi came through with the votes. The final vote for passage was 257-167.
Only 85 Republicans voted for the bill. Notable Republicans voting 'no' include: Darryl Issa, Jason Chaffetz, Robert Hurt, Allen West, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Michele Bachmann, Andrew McCarthy, and Eric Cantor. Notable Republican 'yes' votes: Speaker John Boehner and former VP candidate, Paul Ryan.
The focus short-term is on Speaker Boehner. Boehner was not active in the negotiations with the White House or the Senate for well over a week. When the bill was approved in the Senate, Boehner maintained a low profile. Although many fiscal conservatives called for amendments to the bill, Boehner ignored their voices and proceeded with a straight vote without any amendments to build in spending cuts.
Most pundits have stated Boehner will probably be re-elected Speaker for the new Congress. However, based on Boehner's weak leadership on the bill and recent moves to remove members from prominent committees, his popularity is weaker. Some have suggested Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Darryl Issa or even Jason Chaffetz may make a run for the Speaker position.
Finally, the hard work was not accomplished by this bill. As conservatives know, spending is the problem, not revenue. The bill kicks the sequestration cuts till March 1. Plus, the debt limit has just maxed out again at $16.4 Trillion. Clearly, another showdown will be on the horizon as Obama officially begins his second term and the House Republicans face another debt limit vote.