Three top Obama administration officials — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey — told a Senate committee that the United States must ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty now.
The latest report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Tuesday said that if the country falls off the “fiscal cliff” — variously also called “taxmageddon” — it will likely enter a new recession. With the ending of the Bush-era tax cuts (essentially a gigantic tax increase on the wealthy), the termination of extended unemployment benefits, the reimposition of the payroll tax rates back up to 6.2 percent from the current 4.2 percent, and the “sequester” cuts in government spending demanded by the agreement that Congress hammered out last summer in order to raise the debt ceiling, the CBO predicts that the country’s Gross National Product (GNP) will go negative for at least two quarters, which is the classic definition of a recession.
Executive Orders to reduce regulatory burdens on the economy, such as the one issued last week by President Obama, are likely to have little if any effect. A better solution is for Congress, which created the monstrous regulatory state, and which still has the power to shut it down, to starve the agencies by failing to renew their requests for operating funds.
As state budgets are increasingly shrinking, many are getting "creative" as they look for ways to meet the spending requirements in order to receive matching federal welfare funds.
In the face of the $500 billion "taxmageddon" tax increase coming in 2012, Congress will pass the buck. Nothing is likely to happen before the election, and the lame duck Congress will then drop-kick the issue into next year by extending current law and letting the new Congress deal with it.
On Wednesday the Senate voted down five budget proposals, reflecting gridlock and unwillingness to face reality. Four of the budget proposals were presented by Republican senators, while the fifth was based on President Obama’s budget.
House speaker John Boehner decided on Tuesday to fire the first round in the coming battle to deal with the huge tax increases taking place after the first of the year by setting the terms for the debt ceiling debate. In a speech at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit in Washington Boehner said that any discussion would revolve around his “Boehner principle” — every dollar of additional debt increase for the federal government must be matched by an equal or greater reduction in government spending.
On Thursday morning, the House Armed Services Committee passed the 2013 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); the provision providing for the indefinite detention of Americans remains in the bill.
Federal legislation sponsored by “progressive” Democrat lawmakers, dubbed the “Trayvon Amendment” to play on people’s emotions in the wake of the now-infamous Florida shooting, would aim to bully state governments into restricting self-defense rights by withholding federal taxpayer funds. The controversial attack on individual and state rights was withdrawn from the House floor this week for being “out of order.” But it is not dead yet.
In April the Senate voted to pump $11 billion into the insolvent Postal Service to keep it afloat for a little while longer.
House Republicans are accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of obstructing the House investigation into the flawed Operation Fast and Furious, and are preparing a contempt citation against him and the Department of Justice. The citation would force Holder to turn over tens of thousands of document pertinent to the investigation.