As of late last night, the Tax Deal - is a Done Deal. The House Passed the agreement 277 to 148.
There were about 130 Yeas from Democrats and Republicans alike. Aint "Bipartisanship" grand?
The US House of Representatives has passed a compromise tax bill averting a New Year rise in income taxes for millions of Americans.
However, President Barack Obama had said that a compromise was needed to win Republican support.
The $858bn (£542bn) package was passed by 277 votes to 148 in the House of Representatives.
This Tax Deal is now Headed for Obama Desk, so the the real question is what now?
In many ways Obama is betting his Presidency on this deal. He's betting that this will finally get the economy moving by putting dollars in the pockets of people so they can spend and drive the economy up, not depend on it to all trickle down.
But something else has happened. Most of these tax cuts are essentially maintaining the current status quo of not only cuts put into place by George W. Bush, but also Stimulative Tax breaks from the Recovery Act as well as a 13 Month extension of Unemployment Benefits at least for those who haven't completely run out of them.
This is now the new normal.
But it's a normal that everyone realizes is going to cost of over $800 Billion over the next two years. EVERYONE KNOWS this is unsustainable. Before this bill passed the deficit was projected to drop by 50% by the end of 2014, what it's going to become with these revenue cuts depending on if, when and how much the economy recovers is almost anyone's guess.
But now we know that Republicans and Tea Partiers are going to do a ton of posturing over Spending Cuts, especially the pointless Effort of Banning Earmarks as we've seen from the Phony Budget Twins, Senators Cornyn and Thune.
Yesterday, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and John Thune (R-SD) denounced earmarks and the omnibus bill during a press conference, despite requesting hundreds of millions of dollars of earmarks between them. "I support those projects, but I don’t support this bill," reasoned Thune. Cornyn defended himself in a "heated exchange" with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl.
Here's a little secret that these Deficit Peacocks don't want you to know besides the fact that Earmarks only account for 1% of the budget.
Removing Earmarks doesn't remove Spending.
If members of Congress don't specify what they'd want the money to be spent on the Obama Administration gets to make that decision for them.
It's just like the Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere", in the end Sarah Palin didn't say "No Thanks", Congress did - but Alaska still got the money, they simply spent it on something different.
Be that as it may Senator Reid has pulled the Omnibus Bill until next year and begun to focus on DADT, as well as other critical outstanding issues such as START and The Dream Act.
The only way to do any Real spending cuts is to dig into Medicaid and Medicare ($898 Billion/Year), Social Security ($787 Billion/Year) or the Military Budget ($928 Billion/Year). Now, some of this is actually already in the works because this upcoming year the last of our troops are coming out Iraq, and in June our withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan begins. I for one would like to see a drastic. reduction in the use of Contractors from Halliburton, KBR to Wackenhut and Blackwater/Xe. These guys should all be first on the chopping block, or else we're not serious about this.
If this is going to be a war of Quien is Mas Cutter, then we should plan to WIN that War and getting rid of some real Fat that deserves to be ripped off the flesh of the nation and squished like a TICK. Blackwater/Xe should be at the top of that list.
We also need to start doing a serious reduction of international bases, especially in countries that are completely without any current serious threat like Western Europe.
Another effort already in the pipe is the $500 Billion worth of savings and Medicare efficiencies that are to be implemented as a result of Health Reform. I seriously doubt the Repubs will find a savings as large as that anywhere. Despite all the Tea Party Blather, this needs to be protected and looking at the currnet "Plan" coming from Freedom Works on trying to "Repeal" Healthcare - they don't even have these savings on their radar.
A memo from the Tea Party group FreedomWorks outlines the group's strategy to repeal health care reform and replace it with "a set of patient-centered" bills.
"The group identifies four reform provisions that it believes have bipartisan support: the individual mandate, 1099 reporting requirements, a bill allowing Americans to keep the private health insurance the way it is, and a bill that lets states opt of out Medicaid eligibility expansion. FreedomWorks also thinks it has time on its side, writing that 70 percent of the law's spending doesn't begin until 2014."
This really just shows that they really don't even understand the bill. People who already have private insurance, already get to KEEP IT. The individual mandate, besides being a Republican Idea that used to be touted by the Heritage Foundation, and like the 1099 requirement is not critical to the bill. States opt-ing out of the Medicaid Expansion will mean their losing hundreds of $Millions in Federal funds and lead to more situations like the Jan Brewer Transplant Death Panels.
What we have to do is show Republicans for the Heartless Hypocrits they are - Mercilessly. Relentlessly. Viciously. We have to do what Jon Stewart did this week when he sat down with 4 9-11 First Responders who are all dying of Cancer, yet have had Emergency Funds to provide for their Health Care Block Again By Republicans while they whine about not being able to go home to Celebrate Christmas!
These Republicans are SCUM. They have voted REPEATED against 9-11 First Responders, and Repeatedly against the TROOPS - not because they disagreed with our War Fighting Strategy, but simply because they can't ABIDE THE OPENLY GAY.
Their rank xenophobia, hypocrisy and opportunism is naked for all to see.
Democrats have to make sure they take advantage of all this. The Unemployed and those Business Trying to Grow have been taking out of the firing line and removed from the fray. We have to hold our ground to prevent dangerous cuts to essential services like Education, Medicaid and Medicare - but there's nothing wrong with pushing for better accountability and better efficiency. We should all expect more bang for our buck, however the fact is that none of this cut frenzy will probably make that much of a difference in the end.
Despite all the claims about "Run Away Spending" the fact is that the biggest jump in the Deficit at the end of Bush's last year - over 30% - actually came from the Crashing Economy, not TARP, and not the Stimulus. If the economy finally does begin to recover over the next 13 months - and historically speaking it's grown as well if not better than the Reagan recovery - then we have the leverage to turn our fire back onto Bush's wasteful Paris Hilton Bonus Tax.
I don't think we should simply let them expire again, I think we should push to have them increased to 42% in order to keep the Obama Cuts Permanent.
That of course will require recapturing the Congress is 2012 as well as retaining the Presidency, but it's not impossible. Just difficult and we've done difficult plenty of times already. Republicans beat us this year because they spent every waking moment, every second, on doing exactly that and nothing else. Now, that's what we have to do. In 2006 we took back the Congress when almost noone thought we would - we can do it again.
We have to.
I for one refuse to cry about it, we lost a Battle - not the War.