QUOTE OF THE DAY
Washington Post: The December jobs report proves the fiscal cliff deal a farce
Let’s say I gave you three pieces of information about the U.S. economy. First, we have a terrible unemployment problem that’s not solving itself anytime soon. Second, we’re running big deficits that we expect will become unsustainable in the coming years, though there’s no evidence that the market is even mildly concerned about them right now. Third, we can borrow for next to nothing because the world sees us as a rare safe harbor during a time of global economic turmoil. What sort of economic policy would you design?
WSJ: The Stealth Tax Hike
Anyone still need a reason to abandon "grand bargains" and deals negotiated between this President and GOP Congressional leaders? Here it is: The revival of two dormant provisions of the tax code means the much ballyhooed $450,000 income threshold for the highest tax rate is largely fake.
The two provisions are the infamous PEP and Pease, which aficionados of stealth tax increases will recognize immediately as relics of the 1990 tax increase. Those measures, which limit deductions and exemptions for higher-income taxpayers, expired in 2010. The Obama tax bill revived them this week. It isn't going to be pretty.
Under the new law, some of the steepest tax increases may fall on upper-middle class earners with incomes just above $250,000.
New York Post: On to the next crisis
The budget crisis is over. Long live the budget crisis.
Now that the fiscal cliff has been resolved, we’re on to the fight over raising the debt ceiling. President Obama wants no part of it. Huffing and stomping his feet immediately after Congress passed his tax increases to avoid the cliff, he insisted that there is no way he’ll negotiate over the debt ceiling. That would be so inappropriate.
Cue the hostage-taking analogies, the talk of extremism, the lamentations over a broken Washington. But why is the president outraged that someone would use the leverage of an impending event that everyone wants to avoid and that would damage the economy to his negotiating advantage? It’s precisely how he won on the cliff.
Watchdog: VA bill aims to limit Obamacare’s impact on state tax code
The depth and complexities of the Affordable Care Act are many, but one certainty of the massive health care law is it will raise taxes and make some deductions tougher to earn.
Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, wants to ensure that while the federal income tax code will change because of the ACA, Virginia doesn’t necessarily follow in lock-step.
Marshall has introduced HB 1313 for this month’s General Assembly with the aim of keeping the deduction rates status-quo for residents with high out-of-pocket medical bills.
Isthmus: Wisconsin Republicans expected to push private-school vouchers, charter-school expansion in 2013 session
Gov. Scott Walker's second most controversial move, after ending collective bargaining rights for public employees, was a package of school-choice proposals and budget cuts that aim to remake public education in the state.
In the upcoming legislative session, which opens Jan. 7, many of the ideas that generated packed hearing rooms, hours of tearful testimony and, ultimately, a divided Republican caucus are coming back.
"We're hopeful the Legislature will extend additional school-choice options through independent charters and private schools," says former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, now a lobbyist for the American Federation for Children.
Politico: Democrats to Obama: Keep Constitution on the table in debt ceiling fight
The White House insists President Barack Obama can’t — and won’t — use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling.
But a growing number of his congressional allies are urging Obama not to abandon a potentially powerful weapon before negotiations even begin.
With Republicans promising another climactic fight over the $16.4 trillion debt limit in two months, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that if she were president, she would invoke the Constitution to raise the ceiling on her own — with or without permission from the GOP.
“I would do it, in a second, but I’m not the president of the United States,” Pelosi said.
Washington Post: The White House calls Utah’s Obamacare bluff
For months now, Utah has put the White House in a sticky spot on Obamacare.
Unlike most Republican-governed states, Utah has been eager to run a health insurance exchange. In fact, it already has one: When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Utah was one of two states running a marketplace where consumers could compare and purchase coverage (Massachusetts was the other).
Unlike most Democratic-governed states, though, Utah did not want to set up the kind of exchange that that the health-care law envisioned. The state has favored a bare-bones approach: It only sells to small businesses and covers 7,646 Utah residents. Where some states are hiring dozens of staff, the Utah exchange, known as Avenue H, usually has two or three employees. It does not interface with the state’s Medicaid program like the federal law envisions, nor does it provide expansive consumer assistance services.
Utah initially told the Obama administration that this is how the Utah exchange works now, and will work in the future.
USA Today: Low 2012 gas prices will evaporate this year
Gasoline prices, which hit a 2012 low of $3.22 a gallon Dec. 19, are up 8 cents in the past two weeks and will likely continue climbing through April.
Gasoline prices remain below $3 a gallon in at least 50% or more outlets in 14 states. But the national average has crept up three cents to $3.30 a gallon the past week and 8 cents since hitting a 2012 low of $3.22 in mid-December.
It's likely to get worse in the coming weeks. Crude oil prices are up about $10 a gallon the past month, with benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude closing at $93.09 a barrel Friday, finishing the week up 2.5%.
New York Times: Tax Code May Be the Most Progressive Since 1979
With 2013 bringing tax increases on the incomes of a small sliver of the richest Americans, the country’s top earners now face a heavier tax burden than at any time since Jimmy Carter was president.
The last-minute deal struck by the departing 112th Congress raised taxes on a handful of the highest-earning Americans, with about 99.3 percent of households experiencing no change in their income taxes. But the Tax Policy Center estimates that the average family in the top 1 percent will pay a federal tax rate of more than 36 percent this year, up from 28 percent in 2008. That is the highest rate since 1979, at least.
CARTOON OF THE DAY