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Sunday
Dec122010

David Axelrod: House Democrats Will 'Come Together' On Tax Deal

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats in the House of Representatives will pass the controversial tax plan President Obama brokered with the GOP leadership, despite their deep reservations, Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

"I believe there will be a coming together around it," Axelrod said of the plan, which last week prompted a surprise insurrection from House Democrats who refused to take up a vote on the proposal, citing the many concessions it made to Republicans.

Axelrod said Democratic lawmakers would not have an opportunity to further negotiate or change the deal. They will have to agree to the plan hashed out by the President.

“I don't anticipate it's going to change greatly," he said referring to the biggest sticking point in the deal, an extension of the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans and lowering taxes on inherited income -- the estate tax.

He said there were enough elements of the deal to bring Democrats on board when it came time to vote. The proposed package would extend the Bush tax cuts across incomes, extend benefits to the unemployed and cut payroll taxes. Some Democrats also said that the plan would add $700 billion to the national debt.

Axelrod argued that the proposal would extend unemployment insurance and spur middle-class Americans and small businesses to spend, which would energizing the economy. He said the deal did not contradict promises President Obama made during the campaign not to extend the Bush cuts for the wealthy, because the extension would only be "temporary" and not "permanent."

The Senate is expected to vote on the proposal this week.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec122010

Sarah Palin Visits Earthquake-Ravaged, Cholera-Stricken Haiti

Photo Courtesy - Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images(PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti) -- Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin began a visit to Haiti on Saturday, traveling with the group Samaritan's Purse, headed by evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of the late Billy Graham.

The organization has made aid to Haiti a top priority in its work against poverty and the devastating effects of natural disasters.  Samaritan's Purse has been criticized in the past for putting its evangelical mission ahead of the needs of disaster victims.

Palin, Graham and Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren spent Saturday visiting victims of the earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people last year and the cholera epidemic which has claimed 2,000 lives.

Graham is quoted on his agency's website, saying of Palin, "I appreciate her willingness to visit Haiti during such troubled times ... I believe Governor Palin will be a great encouragement to the people of Haiti."

The British publication, The Guardian, reports Palin emerged from one of the refugee camps and said "They are so full of joy.  We are so fortunate in America and we are responsible for helping those less fortunate."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec112010

Maria Cino Enters Race For RNC Chair

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Maria Cino, a veteran of the Bush administration who recently spent time out of government lobbying for the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, officially kicked off her bid for chair of the Republican National Committee on Saturday.

Cino posted the announcement online in a letter to members of the committee. Cino tested the waters for more than a month as she contacted members of the RNC from around the country trying to drum up support for her bid.

She won the high-profile backing of several important GOP figures, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, former counselor to President George W. Bush, Ed Gillespie, among others.

Cino is entering what is shaping up to be an increasingly crowded field of candidates vying to replace current RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who has remained silent on whether he will seek another term. Also competing for the job are former Michigan RNC Chair Saul Anuzis, former Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner, Wisconsin GOP chief Reince Priebus.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec112010

Alaska Judge Rules Against Tea Party Candidate in Senate Race

Photos Courtesy - Joe Miller for US Senate/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Alaska Tea Party candidate Joe Miller has lost another legal round in his bid for Senate.

A judge ruled against the Republican's lawsuit that challenged more than 8,000 write-in ballots that were either unclear or contained spelling errors, but showed intent for incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Miller has until Tuesday to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

Murkowski -- who ran as an independent in the three-way race -- had a 10,000 vote lead over Miller when she declared victory last month.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec112010

Obama Continues to Push Both Parties to Pass Bipartisan Tax Bill in Weekly Address

Photo Courtesy - Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address President Obama urges members of both parties to pass the compromise tax plan, saying that American people should not suffer by being caught in the “political crossfire” of Washington.

“People want us to find solutions, not score points. And I will not allow middle class families to be treated like pawns on a chessboard.”

The president launches into a strong defense, as he has all week,  of his decisions to work out a framework on tax cuts with the Republicans -- directed at those in his party who are unhappy with the deal cut.

“I recognize that many of my friends in my own party are uncomfortable with some of what’s in this agreement, in particular the temporary tax cuts for the wealthy,” Obama says, “And I share their concerns."

He casts the alternative in terms of what the president said that the nation will suffer if the deal doesn’t get passed.

“The opportunity for families to send their kids to college hinges on this debate.  The ability of parents to put food on the table while looking for a job depends on this debate.  And our recovery will be strengthened or weakened based on the choice that now rests with Congress.”

The president concludes by “strongly” urging members of both parties to pass the plan.

“I’m confident that they will do the right thing, strengthening the middle class and our economic recovery.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec112010

GOP Weekly Address: Rep.-Elect Noem Wants Washington to Reduce 'Job-Killing Uncertainty' of Americans

Photo Courtesy - Kristi for Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Rep.-elect Kristi Noem, R-S.D., called for a more "humble" Washington to emerge and focus on "addressing the challenges our nation faces" in this week's GOP address.

Noem echoed what many other Republican leaders have said in past addresses -- that "Washington has been doing what's best for Washington" and that, in the meantime, "things have gotten worse, not better for families and small businesses."

While the newly-elected congresswoman admitted that President Obama's proposed bipartisan agreement is an "encouraging" first step to stop the tax hikes scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, Noem says it is not enough "to eliminate the job-killing uncertainty hanging over our employers and entrepreneurs."  Instead, Noem suggests focusing on cuts in spending and a repeal of the health care law.

"The American people want us to stop spending dollars we don't have ... We also need to repeal the job-killing health care law," she said in the weekly address.

She also suggests the best way to cut spending is to reduce the size of government and "resist Washington's urge to grow and grow."

Noem finishes with a push for the GOP's "Pledge to America."

"Republicans have outlined these priorities and reforms in the Pledge to America, a governing agenda built by listening to the people."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec102010

Working Overtime: Sanders' Senate Floor Rant Runs Over Eight Hours

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., protested the tax bill on the Senate floor for more than eight hours Friday. As Friday afternoon drifted into Friday evening drifted into Friday night, Sanders was still as passionate as he had been Friday morning. He finally yielded the floor about at 7pm eastern time.


Sanders denounced the tax bill as “a bad deal for the American people” and promised to “take a strong stand” against it. His main concern is that the deal will extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans at great costs to the nation’s already-soaring deficit.

“How can I get by on one house?” Sanders said. “I need five houses, 10 houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We've got the money, we've got the power, we've got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That's the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks.”

Sanders said his office has received over 5,000 calls and emails against the tax bill agreement.

“Vote against this agreement because it is driving up the national debt and it is doing so by giving tax breaks to millionaires that don’t really need them,” he implored his fellow senators.

Sen. Harry Reid announced Thursday night the first procedural vote on the bill will take place on Monday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec102010

A Week Away From Government Shutdown, Senate Set to Take Up Omnibus

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For all the talk about taxes lately, the Senate’s only must-do issue in the lame-duck session is extending government funding into next year, a fight that appears set to take place late next week.

Senators are up against a clear deadline: the latest continuing resolution to keep the government running ends at 12:01a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19. Either Congress acts before then or there is a federal shutdown.

The House has already acted. On Wednesday, the lower chamber of Congress passed a new continuing resolution worth $1.1 trillion to fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year. The House bill contains a two-year freeze on federal civilian worker pay, resolves revenue discrepancies with the Senate’s food safety bill, includes a provision that bans the transfer of terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison to the US, provides $513 billion overall for the Pentagon and freezes discretionary spending at 2010 levels.

But the Senate next week is likely to amend the bill into a $1.1 trillion omnibus measure crafted by Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill will reportedly provide around $20 billion more than the House one.

Whatever happens, it will have to happen fast. The Senate is set to have its first procedural vote on the tax bill Monday, so it is likely that the chamber will not take up the omnibus until Wednesday at the earliest. That would mean that both the Senate and the House would have to pass it by the end of Saturday if lawmakers are to avert a government shutdown.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec102010

Bill Clinton Stumps for President Obama-GOP Tax Cut Deal

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Friday brought out former president and Democratic heavyweight Bill Clinton for an impromptu press conference to tout his tax cut deal with Republicans that has earned the ire of many liberal Democrats.

"The agreement, taken as a whole, is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs and to minimize the chances that it will slip back, which is what has happened in other financial collapses," Clinton said.

The former president was at the White House for a meeting with Obama. The president said he had a "terrific meeting" with Clinton, who he introduced as the president who "presided over as good of an economy as we've seen in our lifetime."

The last time the White House called on the former president for help was earlier this year, when Clinton visited Democratic lawmakers to stump for the health care bill.

In the briefing room Friday, a seemingly comfortable Clinton pushed dubious Democrats to support the president.

"In my opinion, this is a good bill and I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it. I thank the Republican leaders for agreeing to include things that were important to the president," he said. "There's never a perfect bipartisan bill in the eyes of the partisans, and we all see this differently, but I really believe this will be a significant net plus for the country."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec102010

MoveOn.org Vows Primary Challenges vs. Dems Who Support Tax Deal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Amid outrage on the left over the tax deal reached by President Obama, liberal activists are promising 2012 primary challenges against Democrats who vote in favor of the package.

Ilyse Hogue, the director of political advocacy for MoveOn.org, told ABC News Friday that her group’s members are eager to stand up for their viewpoints even against Democratic office-holders, as they did in an unsuccessful primary challenge against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., who went on to lose in the general election.

“We saw in 2010 that our members’ appetite to fight for people willing to fight for middle-class Americans is huge,” Hogue said. “Did Blanche Lincoln win?…Yes. But, did she have to pay a steep price, and was a message sent that…this is a long-term fight to get the Democrats to stand up to special interests, and fight on behalf of the American people. And we’ll use every tool in our toolbox to do that, moving forward.”

Hogue said the president has made a “wide miscalculation” about voters’ intent in caving to Republicans on a range of tax cuts.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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