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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Speaker Boehner's Letter and Fiscal Cliff Proposal

This post is an add-on to our ongoing Fiscal Cliff debate taking place here:

Yesterday, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, sent a letter to President Obama outlining the GOP's proposal to avoid going over the impending "Fiscal Cliff." This single issue, in my opinion, is the most important issue in our current socio-political-economic environment. Dollars and cents aside, I believe the handling of this issue, from the "kick-the-can-down-the-road-until-after-the-election" proposition to the notion of "compromise" or general lack thereof, highlights the broken nature of our federal government. From the divide in the halls of Congress to the split nature of our debates in social media, this single issue is driving a wedge through the nation. Regardless of how this will be resolved, the handling of this problem will surely set a precedent, unfortunately, for the handling of similar, ideologically-divided issues for years to come.

A key "x-factor" in this arena seems to be the lack of "good" information. The media, an unchecked faction who's supposedly charged with passing information to the people, seems to be subjective rather than objective. It's often said that the media leans to the left, and in this year alone, it doesn't seem ashamed to show it. With respect to the Fiscal Cliff, many examples have emerged (here are a few from Newsbusters - whom I respect because they back their claims with video, audio, links, and transcripts: ABC, Piers, Diane Sawyer, Wolf to show a few) that show the media is shamelessly taking sides without offering a balanced set of inquiries or interviews to anyone on the right. This leads to an American public that is grossly misinformed about the facts of our dire situation.

Because of this, I feel it's important to post such things as Boehner's letter to the President. I believe in trying to achieve perfect information. Now granted, I run a blog, not a news agency. I am bias, and I don't hide it. But I'm not the firsthand supplier of information. The media is, and it should stick to objective representation of the facts and not reporting personal opinions about the facts. To combat what I believe is a grossly subjective leaning by the media and an endless attempt to spin the GOP and its actions and proposals in a negative way, I posted below the text and original links of Boehner's (and key GOP leadership) letter to The President. This is a primary resource from which facts can be derived, and I hope this helps people develop a truth-based, unskewed, "de-spun" opinion of this issue.

The original PDF can be found here:

It can be found on Boehner's Speaker of the House website here:

Full text:

December 3, 2012

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
After a status quo election in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected, the American people rightly expect both parties to come together on a fair middle ground and address the nation’s most pressing challenges. 
To that end, shortly after the election, we presented you with a balanced framework for averting the fiscal cliff by coupling spending cuts and reforms with new tax revenue.  We then welcomed Secretary Geithner to the Capitol on November 29 with every expectation that he would lay out a similarly reasonable path.
Regrettably, the proposal he outlined on behalf of your Administration contains very little in the way of common ground.   The proposal calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue, twice the amount you supported during the campaign.  The proposal also includes four times as much tax revenue as spending cuts, in stark contrast to the “balanced approach” on which you campaigned.  While administration officials are claiming that this proposal contains 2.5 dollars of spending cuts for each dollar in new revenue, counting as part of this ratio previously enacted savings – as if these were new spending reductions – only confuses the public debate.  What’s worse, the modest spending cuts in this offer are cancelled out by the additional ‘stimulus’ measures the Administration is requesting.  And, this proposal would remove any and all limits on federal borrowing. 
We cannot in good conscience agree to this approach, which is neither balanced nor realistic.  If we were to take your Administration’s proposal at face value, then we would counter with the House-passed Budget Resolution.  It assumes an overhaul of our tax code with revenue remaining at historically normal levels and proposes structural reforms to preserve and protect the Nation's entitlement programs, ensuring they are sustainable for the long-term rather than continuing to grow out of control.  Some of its key reforms include:
  • The House-passed Budget Resolution assumes enactment of structural Medicare reform that offers future beneficiaries guaranteed coverage options, including a traditional fee-for-service Medicare plan.  This proposal is based on recent bipartisan efforts and would provide greater support for the poor and the sick and less support for the wealthy.  We achieve these reforms in Medicare without affecting current seniors or those nearing retirement.  This would slow the projected explosive spending growth in this program and eventually maintain Medicare spending as a share of the economy at 4.75 percent, thus saving the program for future generations. 
  • The House-passed Budget Resolution reforms Medicaid and provides states with greater flexibility to better deliver health security to beneficiaries, saving the federal government nearly $800 billion over 10 years.
  • Separate from savings in our proposal for the 2010 health care law, the House-passed Budget Resolution envisions hundreds of billions in savings in other mandatory spending, including reforms to Federal employee compensation and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
These reforms are, in our view, absolutely essential to addressing the true drivers of our debt, and we will continue to support and advance them.  At the same time, mindful of the status quo election and past exchanges on these questions, we recognize it would be counterproductive to publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support in the near-term.
With the fiscal cliff nearing, our priority remains finding a reasonable solution that can pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed into law in the next couple of weeks.  The best way to do this is by learning from and building on the bipartisan discussions that have occurred during this Congress, including the Biden Group, the Joint Select Committee, and our negotiations leading up to the Budget Control Act.
For instance, on November 1 of last year, Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of your debt commission, presented the Joint Select Committee with a middle ground approach that garnered praise from many fiscal watchdogs and nonpartisan experts.  He recommended that both parties agree to a balanced package that includes significant spending cuts as well as $800 billion in new revenue.
Notably, the new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy.  Instead, new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates.  On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending.  These cuts would be over and above the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.
This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform.  Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs.  We believe it warrants immediate consideration.
If you are agreeable to this framework, we are ready and eager to begin discussions about how to structure these reforms so that the American people can be confident that these targets will be reached. 
Again, the American people expect their leaders to find fair middle ground to address the nation’s most pressing challenges.  To achieve that outcome, we respectfully request that you respond to this letter in a timely fashion and hope that you will refrain from any further action that would undermine good-faith efforts to reach a reasonable and equitable agreement in this critical matter.
John Boehner, Speaker
Eric Cantor, Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican Conference Chairman
Dave Camp, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means
Paul Ryan, Committee on the Budget
Fred Upton, Committee on Energy & Commerce

So what did you think? How does this compare with the narrative being spread by the media? Since Friday, we've had a very spirited, very informative, very respectful debate about the impending Fiscal Cliff, and I hope that this not only adds to it, but I hope it pushes our discussion further. If you'd like to read the numerous debate comments and even join yourself, go here:

As always, share your thoughts below or at the Fiscal Cliff open forum.

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  1. one thing i will say for sure is that it seems there are way more liberal "opinionators" on msm than conservative ones. and cnn as a show has far more liberal opinions (especially on their homepage), msnbc is just gone, abc, cbs and nbc follow suit. fox is the only one that has a series of right-leaning folks. so yes i can certainly see what you mean. its not balanced by any means.

  2. Thank you for putting this up. It's good tk know that someone cares about the truth.

  3. Great post LME - but the problem is - NO ONE on the left will POST or REPORT IT, and if they DID, NOT ONE of the GimmeDats would READ/LISTEN.

    Some stuff I've found - just today:

    Mark Steyn:

    "So, given that the ruling party will not permit spending cuts, what should Republicans do? If I were John Boehner, I'd say: "Clearly there's no mandate for small government in the election results. So, if you milquetoast pantywaist sad-sack excuses for the sorriest bunch of so-called Americans who ever lived want to vote for Swede-sized statism, it's time to pony up."

    "OK, he might want to focus-group it first. But that fundamental dishonesty is the heart of the crisis. You cannot simultaneously enjoy American-sized taxes and European-sized government. One or the other has to go."

    Liberal Compares Obama’s Push for Tax Hikes to Lincoln Wanting to End Slavery

    Are Libs REALLY that dumb?

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

    “If we work 40 hours a week, and another entity forcibly conscripts 25% of our compensation, then we argue that we have been forced into involuntary servitude – slavery – for 10 of those 40 hours. . . .”

    It’s that simple.

    Read more:

    Communist Party USA Pushing Obamanomics and Tax Increases

    And then there are THESE from HuffPo (because I'm all 'fair and balanced' ; )

    Costco CEO campaigns for and endorse 0's 'tax the rich' agenda ~

    "We don't want one set of rules for ourselves and another for our employees," said Sinegal, who hosted an Obama fundraiser in July.

    ~ Really?

    ~ But... THEY don't want to actually PAY the higher rates:

    Costco will spend $3 billion to pay a special dividend of $7 per share next month ahead of higher tax rates that may kick in come January.

    Hypocrisy - thy name is LIBERAL.

    1. Oh, I forgot!

      If you check out the comments on the second HuffPo article the (lib) benefactors of the (borrowed money)early dividend payout say: "Thanks Costco! : )" -

      Translation: "Screw you, pull up the ladder, I got MINE."