The president and House Republicans continued to snipe at each other Wednesday over the impending set of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. They traded accusations and blame during another day with plenty of talk, but — until late in the day, at least — no negotiations.
Tax increases are only a part of what lies ahead if Congress can't come to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff by the new year. Massive spending cuts will also kick in — and those cuts will be felt throughout the economy.
The current stalemate got under way two years ago when Congress, locked in a bitter partisan battle over whether to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, passed what was known as the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Billions in damages and not enough in the bank account — that's where federal officials find themselves in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The White House says it will send an emergency funding request to Capitol Hill this week — expected to be $50 billion to $60 billion. Top administrators told Congress on Wednesday that they want at least some of that money to go toward preventing the kind of devastation caused by Sandy and other recent storms.
In just over a month, President Obama will be sworn in for his second term. Audie Cornish takes a moment to look back at what his presidency has meant for African-Americans. We hear from a comedian, David Alan Grier; from a lawmaker, Emanuel Cleaver, who is outgoing chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; and from three seniors at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Standstill, nowhere, nothing happening - House Republicans ask the president to talk, but they know taxes top his Christmas list. It's Wednesday and time for a...
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Naughty and nice...
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 12:55 pm
After House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a deficit reduction proposal that included $800 billion of increased revenue, some within the Republican Party objected loudly. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), a member of the House Budget Committee, shares his views on how to resolve the stalemate.
About 2 million Americans could lose unemployment checks if Congress doesn't extend emergency federal benefits by the end of the year. Host Michel Martin talks about new research challenging conventional wisdom about unemployment checks. Guests include James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation and Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Americans are not optimistic that leaders here in Washington will strike a budget deal in time to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts. A new poll by the Pew Research Center found nearly half the country expects the budget stalemate to drag on.
And amid that budget debate, a wall of Republican opposition to a new United Nations treaty kept it from being ratified in the Senate. The treaty is aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of disabled people. And even though it was inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Republicans argue that it would harm U.S. sovereignty and even interfere with home schooling. Here's NPR's David Welna.
There's more than one cliff drawing controversy this month. The federal farm bill is one of many items caught in congressional gridlock. The bill resets U.S. agriculture policy every four years, and most farmers are still covered by crop insurance and other programs until next planting season. But there's one exception: dairy.
In a tug of war between President Obama and Congress, a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C., will hear arguments Wednesday on the legality of Obama's controversial recess appointments.
The White House says it was forced to install three new members of the National Labor Relations Board in January because of inaction by Senate Republicans. But those lawmakers argue the Senate wasn't really in a recess at the time.
The Republican plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" that the White House rejected Monday includes at least one element that's likely to produce controversy: a proposal that would, among other things, affect the cost of living adjustment for Social Security.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner meet in the White House on July 23, 2011. At that time, they were discussing how to avert a debt default. The talks ultimately led to the deal that now brings us aspects of the so-called fiscal cliff.
Credit Liz Halloran / NPR
A sign in downtown Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. The president, congressional Republicans and outside groups all are trying to rally public support for their positions in the fiscal talks.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:33 pm
NEAL CONAN, HOST:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. When the 112th Congress adjourns, some of the most vivid politicians of our times will leave the stage. We've already spoken with Democratic Representatives Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich. Today two political mavericks.
One ran for president of the United States, the other for vice president. Both at one time or another left their parties. Both left indelible marks on politics and on Washington, D.C.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Later in the program, exit interviews with Senator Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Ron Paul as they leave Congress after many years. But first we continue our Opinion Page series on the fiscal cliff.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program we are going to head to Central Africa to find out what's happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an armed rebel group managed to take over one of the country's most important cities, despite the presence of a massive United Nations peacekeeping force. We'll talk about how that happened and why it matters with a reporter who is there on the ground. That's coming up later in the program.
Throughout his first term, some of President Obama's critics said he wasn't a tough enough negotiator. They felt he caved to Republicans too early, too often. Since his re-election, Obama has subtly changed his approach. He's bringing a more aggressive style — but some critics say it's not the best way to find common ground.
"A highly cautious, bureaucratic process that had the effect of watering down the U.S.'s own intelligence" led to the controversial "talking points" that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used when she spoke about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, The Wall Street Journal reports this morning.
As leaders in Washington try to make a deal to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts slated to go into effect in the new year, one major focus of the negotiations is whether to let taxes go up on the rich.
The Obama administration wants to allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for top earners. House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans have countered with a proposal that they say would raise revenue through ending loopholes and deductions in the tax code and would not increase tax rates.