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.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
I'm Melissa Block.
And today there is a counter offer. Republicans have put forward the broad strokes of their proposal to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled at the end of the year. It should sound familiar to those who followed the presidential campaign. House Speaker Jon Boehner offered a plan that borrows heavily from ideas put forth by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
And now, The Opinion Page; in fact a first, an Opinion Page series on the latest round of arguments on taxes and spending that have come to national attention under the ominous term the fiscal cliff. At the moment, the White House and congressional Republicans are at an impasse, and if that sounds familiar, that's because they arrived at a similar stalemate last year. When a subsequent supercommittee failed to reach agreement, the clock started ticking.
We're close to reaching the breaking point. The White House knows it. Democrats and Republicans in Congress know it. Wall Street knows it, economists know it. We've been pushing this off for quite some time, and now it's time to take action.
Of course, I'm talking about solving this week's ScuttleButton puzzle.
The battle over the looming spending cuts and tax increases known as the "fiscal cliff" begins this week where it ended last week — deadlocked. While there is no agreement on how lawmakers should work out the details of a compromise, there is widespread consensus that a deal must get done for the good of the country.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says it's up to congressional Republicans to take the next step in budget talks to avoid the pending automatic spending cuts and tax increases at the end of the year.
As Congress and the White House battle over a tax and spending plan before the end of the year, one number is at the forefront: $250,000. That's the income level above which the White House wants taxes to rise. Host Guy Raz speaks with Reuters personal finance columnist Linda Stern about where that amount of money goes a long way, and where it doesn't. Plus NPR's Mara Liasson weighs in on the state of budget talks in Washington.
Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 12:50 pm
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took to the Sunday talk shows to push the Obama administration's plan to avert the "fiscal cliff," saying that while he was optimistic about a deal with Republicans, there would be no agreement without an increase in tax rates for the top 2 percent of income earners.
Before the official start of his second term, the president himself has to deal with a major legislative challenge, the across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases that will take effect next year unless the White House and Congress can reach a compromise. But in lieu of banging out a deal with congressional leaders face to face, the president is taking his case for how to solve the crisis on the road.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
President Obama has less than two months before the start of his second term. Often, that means a lot of shuffling in the presidential cabinet. The recent resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus means there's an open spot at Langley. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she will leave that office at the end of the year.
Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Tamara Keith about the latest developments in the federal budget negotiations and the impending package of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to automatically go into effect unless Congress acts by Jan. 1, 2013.
Making an already head-splittingly difficult deal on the fiscal cliff even harder to resolve is a set of three rules by which the Republicans who run the House play.
These are not official regulations; they're more shibboleths that House GOP leaders have adopted in recent years. And those rules are leaving House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, little room to maneuver as lawmakers try to avoid a set of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:44 am
Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, was clearly frustrated with the tactics some of his colleagues were using to gum up the legislative process.
The mere threat of a filibuster of a procedural motion to allow the defense authorization bill to be considered on the floor caused the Senate's leadership to balk at scheduling the legislation at all.
President Obama is hoping the same campaign tools that helped him win re-election will also deliver a policy win in the fight over federal taxes.
The president wants Congress to extend Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans, while allowing taxes to go up for the wealthiest 2 percent. His aides are using email, social media and beyond-the-Beltway campaign appearances in hopes of putting pressure on Republican lawmakers.
As negotiations continue in Washington over a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff — that combination of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for Jan. 1 — one big sticking point is whether to raise tax rates for high-income Americans.
Congress and the White House constructed the cliff last year, thinking it would force them to focus on solving the deficit problem. But they're still battling over what approach makes the most sense.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 6:56 am
Facing criticism over appointing an all male slate of chairmen to lead major House committees, Speaker John Boehner on Friday announced that Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan will head the House Administration Committee.
As of now, Miller is the only Republican woman expected to head a House committee when the 113th Congress convenes Jan. 3.
Freshman Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has been standing side by side with colleagues John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in questioning the Obama administration's version of events about the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.
It is just the latest in a series of high-profile moments for Ayotte, who is seen as a rising star in a party struggling to win female voters.
Among the many distinctions of the 2012 election season was that it was the most expensive in history. President Obama and Mitt Romney each raised around a billion dollars and outside groups spent another billion or more. We know that a lot of that money went to pay for advertising, but what about the people who placed the ads or produced them or think up the strategy behind them?
Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 2:19 pm
President Obama has yet to make known his choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but plenty of Republicans have made theirs: John Kerry.
And that puts the Massachusetts senator and former Democratic presidential nominee in a bit of a bind. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he'd normally be one of the loudest voices defending U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice against GOP attacks that she mishandled her role in explaining an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. But she's the other top contender for the Cabinet post.
NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin take you over the cliff in the latest podcast.
This week: a less-than-friendly reception for Susan Rice among Senate Republicans; some in the GOP declare their independence from the no-tax pledge; an update in the battle to succeed Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress; and the 2013 gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey begin to take shape.
U.S. Rep. Allen West came to Washington as part of the 2010 wave of Tea Party-backed candidates. He became known as aggressive and outspoken, but his tenure in Congress was short-lived. He recently conceded a close race for Florida's 18th District. West sits down with host Michel Martin to reflect on his term and his outlook for the future.
The White House and congressional leaders continue to talk about taxes, spending cuts and how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that arrives at midnight Dec. 31 — when Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending cuts are set to go into effect.
As NPR and others cover the story, we'll try to to point to interesting reports and analyses. Here are three of the latest.