President Obama examines a K'NEX roller coaster on Nov. 30 at a Hatfield, Pa., factory that makes the toys. During the visit, Obama spoke about the economy, the middle class and his plan to raise taxes on top wage earners.
Of the 535 members of Congress, not many appear to be in the loop about the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. That makes the rest nervous about having to vote on a bill on short notice despite misgivings about what's in it. But this is often how major deals get accomplished in Washington.
In these budget negotiations, the names Boehner and Obama come up most often — and virtually all the rest are on the outside looking in.
In a closed-door meeting Thursday, lawmakers will consider whether to approve a secret report that chronicles CIA detention and interrogation practices — including methods that critics have compared to torture.
That report — along with the release of a new movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden — is rekindling an old debate about whether those methods worked.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Audie Cornish.
Negotiations are intensifying between congressional Republicans and the White House. Both sides say they want to find a compromise to end the budget stalemate that's gripped Washington. Both sides are also vying for support from the business community. The White House has reportedly put an overhaul of the tax code on the table.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 10:54 am
No one can argue the setback to organized labor served up by Michigan's new law, which bars unions from requiring workers to pay dues even if they don't join their workplace bargaining unit.
Tuesday's passage of "right to work" legislation in a state dominated by the auto industry and the historically powerful United Auto Workers was a surprising "smack in the face" to unions, says labor expert Lee Adler, especially given President Obama's nearly 10-point win in the state last month.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:12 pm
Despite his re-election and more Democratic seats in Congress, President Obama has far from a free hand to make the kind of comprehensive deal House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are demanding — one that includes cuts to entitlement programs.
Strong resistance to that notion is coming from the political left, including warnings that while Obama won't have another re-election, most of his allies on Capitol Hill will be facing voters again.
President Barack Obama is expected to make some key changes to his second-term cabinet. As Hillary Clinton prepares to step down as Secretary of State, many wonder whether she will run for president in 2016.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, another young woman, a mother, has been killed by a man who supposedly loved or at least cared for her. That got us thinking about the political fight over the ways to address violence against women. We're going to talk about that with our panel of women commentators. We call it the Beauty Shop and it's coming up later in the program.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up in my Can I Just Tell You essay, I want to share some thoughts and some surprising facts about violence in relationships. That's in just a few minutes.
But, first, it's time for the Beauty Shop. That's where we get a fresh cut on the week's news with a panel of women writers, journalists and commentators.
Michigan is now the nation's 24th right-to-work state, where unions cannot automatically collect dues or fees from workers. The governor signed the law just hours after it was approved by the state's legislature in a day marked by protests.
Among the loose ends that lawmakers would like to tie up before the end of this lame-duck session is the farm bill, which is made up mostly of crop subsidies and food stamps.
The last farm bill expired in September. The Senate has passed a new one; the House has not. Farm-state lawmakers are urging leaders to include a farm bill as part of any budget deal to avert year-end tax increases and spending cuts.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 4:33 pm
The back and forth over the "fiscal cliff" continues: House Speaker John Boehner sent a new counterproposal to the White House on Tuesday that, according to a spokesman for the speaker, aims to "achieve tax and entitlement reform to solve our looming debt crisis and create more American jobs."
Tuesday's offer from Boehner follows his remarks on the House floor in which he called on President Obama to identify what spending cuts the White House will accept as part of a "balanced approach" toward a deal.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner took to his chamber's floor today with an update on negotiations over the federal budget. As the clock ticks toward automatic spending cuts and tax hikes, Boehner gave the impression that little has changed.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. The latest unemployment numbers are out and while things are getting slightly better overall, younger people who want to work are still having a very tough time. We reached out to an economist who says apprenticeships might offer one way to offer more opportunity to the younger trying to get into the world of work. We'll talk more about that in just a few minutes.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 11:39 am
As weary as many Americans grew of campaign commercials last month, they may be getting even more annoyed this month by endless talk of the fiscal cliff, the massive collection of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at year's end.
It's easy to understand the urge to stick fingers in ears and loudly chant "la-la-la-la." The budget problems are indeed complicated, and the negotiations tedious.
But resolving the mess is extremely important: Without a solution, every person who gets a paycheck or has investments will see his or her taxes rise.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 7:06 pm
Update at 6:00 p.m. ET:
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law two controversial "right-to-work" bills passed earlier Tuesday by the state's House. This officially makes Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation.
The two bills give both public and private employees so-called right-to-work protections — controversial pieces of legislation that have sparked protests in and around the state capitol in Lansing.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:18 am
As we've said now several times, "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're pointing to interesting reports and analyses. Here are some of the latest.
A right-to-work protester walks past Michigan state police at the capitol in Lansing on Tuesday. The Michigan Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that would bar contracts requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Credit Carlos Osorio / AP
Thousands rally at the state capitol grounds in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday. The crowd is protesting right-to-work legislation.
Michigan's Legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday that would bar contracts requiring employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The proposed right-to-work law has infuriated union leaders in a state considered the heart of the union movement.
Republican leaders pushing the bill closely watched the fights over labor rights going on across the Midwest, but it wasn't Ohio or Wisconsin that prompted them into action. Many leaders in the public and private sector looked to their neighbor to the immediate south.
Let's take that idea of playing out a little further now. The budget standoff has been described in all sorts of dramatic terms. So we decided to look into what the great works of the stage can tell us about this debate over tax hikes and spending cuts, and how it will play out. Think of it as "The Fiscal Cliff for English Majors."
NPR White House correspondent - and English major - Ari Shapiro has this take.
President Obama and House speaker John Boehner have been holding private conversations about how to avoid the fiscal cliff, but still no deal. That has many in Washington talking about how it wasn't always so difficult to get things done. For some insight, we called John Danforth. He's a former Republican senator from Missouri and spent decades forging deals across the aisle, including the 1986 tax reform law under President Reagan. As he sees it, lawmakers aren't approaching the current problem from the right angle.
Lines of communication remain open in an effort to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff," according to the White House and House Speaker John Boehner.
If no deal is reached between now and the end of the year, would the consequences be that drastic?
To answer that question, let's imagine it's January and the nation has gone off the "fiscal cliff." You don't really feel any different and things don't look different, either. That's because, according to former congressional budget staffer Stan Collender, the cliff isn't really a cliff.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama got out of Washington today. He visited a car plant this afternoon in Detroit. The president was there, in part, to talk jobs and to herald some good news for manufacturing in Michigan. But looming over today's visit, and over much of what Mr. Obama does these days, are the budget negotiations back in Washington.
After the U.N. General Assembly upgraded the status of the Palestinian Authority to an observer state the week before last, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with an expansion of housing plans on the West Bank, near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The U.S. called that counterproductive. And it came after Washington had backed Israel in the U.N., helped Egypt mediate a cease-fire in Gaza and funded production of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system.
And if past negotiations are any indication, that silence could mean the talks are going well. We're joined now by NPR's congressional reporter Tamara Keith, who has been following developments on the Hill and beyond. And as Ari just said, neither side is talking about the details, but Tamara, what are they saying?