January 7, 2013 |
Connoisseurs of democratic decadence can savor a variety of contemporary dystopias. Because familiarity breeds banality, Greece has become a boring horror. Japan, however, in its second generation of stagnation, is fascinating. Once, Japan bestrode the world. Now the Japanese buy more diapers for adults than for infants. America has its lowest birthrate since at least 1920; family formation and workforce participation have declined in tandem. But it has an energy surplus, the government-produced overhang of housing inventory is shrinking, and the average age of Americans' cars is an astonishing 10.8 years.
January 7, 2013
Thanks to an ultraconservative congressional faction, many Americans now view the Republican Party as extremist, petty, and irresponsible. You need look no further than the ridiculous, drawn-out drama over the so-called fiscal cliff to see the GOP's inability to negotiate reality. But while its brand is damaged, the GOP has maintained its mystique as the party of fiscal restraint. Shortly before the election, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that, by a margin of 51 to 43 percent, Americans believed Mitt Romney would do a better job on the deficit than President Obama.
January 3, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The bill was 153 pages long. It was written only the day before, by Washington insiders working in the dark of night. It was crammed with giveaways and legislative spare parts: tax breaks for wind farms and race tracks. A change to nuclear-weapons policy. Government payments for cheese. And most significant, the bill would raise taxes but do relatively little to cut government spending or the huge federal deficit. To a tea-party-influenced crop of House Republicans, the bill to resolve the fiscal cliff crisis was everything they had wanted to change about the way Washington worked.
January 2, 2013
WE COULD have sworn that, after campaigning on a pledge to make the richest Americans pay more taxes - and vowing to allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for incomes over $250,000 - Barack Obama won re-election by nearly 5 million votes and an Electoral College landslide. And yet a deal passed in the Senate at 2 a.m. yesterday looked quite different from what the majority of Americans support and thought they had voted for. If passed by the U.S. House of Representatives - and for a while yesterday, that was a rather big "if" - it would extend the tax cuts to incomes over $450,000 a year.
January 2, 2013 |
LEGISLATION to block the "fiscal cliff" is headed to the White House for President Obama's signature. The bill will avoid, for now, the major tax increases and government-spending cuts that had been scheduled to take effect with the new year. Final approval came in the House on New Year's night. The vote was 257- 167. The Senate passed the bill fewer than 24 hours earlier. The measure raises tax rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples, a victory for Obama.
January 2, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Americans are all but certain to face a broad hike in taxes on Tuesday for the first time in at least two decades, ending a prolonged period of declining taxation that has become a defining characteristic of the American economy. Regardless of whether President Obama and Congress reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, many Americans will see a higher tax bill because of the expiration of the payroll tax cut, which was enacted in 2011 as a temporary measure to boost economic growth.
December 31, 2012 |
AROUND dinnertime Sunday night, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl reported on Twitter that he'd asked a source who is a Senate aide for an update on the last-minute talks to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" of across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts. What got emailed back was an iconic picture. It showed Wile E. Coyote - the Roadrunner's not-so-wily cartoon nemesis - skidding off a steep cliff. Indeed, the last day of 2012 may long be remembered as America's Wile E. Coyote moment - the day the nation's political system sprinted far out over the abyss of a dry desert canyon, pausing long enough to hold up a tiny sign reading "Help!"
December 26, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Workers probably won't feel the full brunt of next year's tax increases in their January paychecks, but don't be fooled by the temporary reprieve. No matter what Congress does to address the year-end fiscal cliff, it's already too late for employers to accurately withhold income taxes from January paychecks, unless all the current tax rates remain unchanged, which is unlikely. Social Security payroll taxes are set to increase on Jan. 1, so workers should immediately feel the squeeze of a 2 percent cut in their take-home pay. But as talks drag on over how to address other year-end tax increases, the Internal Revenue Service has delayed releasing income tax withholding tables for 2013.
December 24, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Senators bickered Sunday over who's to blame for sending the country lurching toward a year-end "fiscal cliff," bemoaning the lack of a deal days before the deadline but bridging no differences in the debate. With the collapse Thursday of House Speaker John Boehner's plan to allow tax rates to rise on million-dollar-plus incomes, Sen. Joe Lieberman said: "It's the first time that I feel it's more likely we'll go over the cliff than not," meaning that higher taxes for most Americans and painful federal agency budget cuts would be in line to go into effect automatically.
December 13, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - The nation's capital stumbled closer to the fiscal cliff Wednesday as President Obama and congressional Republicans dug in deeper on their positions on taxes, even as no face-to-face negotiations took place. No more talks are scheduled. With hope fading for a deal before Christmas, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio told his Republican colleagues to prepare for a holiday season of tense negotiations. He told reporters of a "deliberate call" he had with Obama on Tuesday evening after each man rejected the other's latest offer.