Quotes of the day

posted at 10:11 pm on December 4, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

President Obama on Tuesday dismissed the latest deficit-cutting proposal from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as “still out of balance.”

“There’s been a lot of talk that we can raise $800 billion or $1 trillion in revenues just by cutting loopholes,” Obama said. “But a lot of your viewers understand that the only way to do that would be if you completely eliminated, for example, charitable deductions.” …

“If we’re going to be serious about reducing our deficit while still being able to invest in things like education … and if we’re going to protect middle class, then we’re going to have to have higher rates on the wealthiest Americans,” Obama said.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged  Tuesday night that the proposal the GOP leadership offered to deal with the fiscal cliff would be unfair to seniors and middle-class Americans and again insisted that any deal would include a rate increase for the wealthiest Americans. …

“If you read closely what they have in their letter, even though it’s barebones, you have voucherizing of Medicare, you have a return to the Ryan budget, which priorities are not priorities that I think the American people share,” she told host Ed Schultz.

Pelosi said that Congress could not get “from here to there” without a deal that included a mix of cuts and revenue.

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But Hoyer, the Democratic whip, warned that taking entitlement benefits off the table is a bad place to start the negotiations. Such entrenched positions are little different, he said, than the Republicans’ refusal to consider hikes in tax rates — a central element of President Obama’s deficit-reduction proposal.

Hoyer said GOP proposals to raise the Medicare eligibility age, make wealthier seniors pay higher Medicare rates and limit the cost-of-living increases for some federal programs are legitimate ones, even as he warned he might not support them.

“They clearly are on the table,” Hoyer said of the Medicare changes during his weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “They were on the table in the Boehner-Obama talks. They’ve been on the table for some period of time. That does not mean that I’d be prepared to adopt them now, but they’re clearly, I think, on the table.”

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Senator Jim DeMint, a favorite of the anti-tax Tea Party movement, said the proposal by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner for $800 billion in increased tax revenues would “destroy jobs and allow Washington politicians” to swell, not reduce, the deficit. …

In a statement, DeMint said, “This isn’t rocket science. Everyone knows that when you take money out of the economy (with tax hikes), it destroys jobs, and everyone knows that when you give politicians more money, they spend it,” DeMint said.

“This is why Republicans must oppose tax increases and insist on real spending reductions that shrink the size of government and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money,” the South Carolina Republican said.

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The purge of four rebellious Republicans from plum committee assignments Monday is provoking anger in some quarters of the House Republican Conference, with the dissidents threatening to more aggressively push against leadership’s agenda. …

Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said in an interview that “a lot of folks are talking” about bringing down a rule vote on the House floor.

And Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, the lone moderate among the purge victims, suggested he might sign a discharge petition sponsored by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to force a floor vote on a fiscal cliff bill passed by the Democratic Senate.

“I, at this point, am not going to sign the discharge petition, but I said ‘at this point.’ I don’t know what next week will bring,” Jones told reporters.

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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: It’s one thing to understand, when we hear the president say rates have to go up, there’s no other way to make this work. This is a purely political statement, it has nothing to do with economics. His own commission, the debt reduction commission that he appointed identified $1.1 trillion of what are called tax expenditures. Meaning loopholes and deductions out there available every year. So over a decade that’s $11 trillion of available revenues without raising rates.

So, all you need to do is get less than one in ten of the dollars. One in ten and you’ve got a $1 trillion in raised revenues without raising rates. The only reason the president insists on raising rates is because he knows it will destroy Republican unity. It will cause a complete fracture of the Republican majority in the House. It will hand him a Congress that he can then manipulate for the next two years at least because the Republicans will be neutered. This is entirely a political action, a way to get a surrender from the Republicans and then what will happen, if he succeeds with this, with the fiction that you have to raise rates rather than eliminate loopholes, is he’ll have weakened Republicans which will allow him to dictate all the terms of whatever entitlement or other reforms if any we will get in the second term.

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