President Barack Obama departs his Hawaii vacation for a tortured return of jousting with House Republicans who are bent on taking the country over the fiscal cliff
In the Hawaiian language “Aloha ‘Oe” means “love you and farewell to you” which is clearly on President Barack Obama’s mind, as he boards Air Force One this evening to return to the White House from his shortened traditional Hawaiian holiday vacation.
Upon his return, Obama is confronted with the unenviable task of making a legislative deal with House Republicans which would prevent the country from going over the proverbial “fiscal cliff”. As everyone knows by now in America, if a deal is not made between Obama and the House Republicans (it remains to be seen if Democrats will support a definitive package if it contains cuts to Social Security) before January 1, 2013, we are all staring into an economic abyss referred to as the “fiscal cliff”.
But media reports now indicate that Obama plans to work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to initiate a stop-gap measure for compromise and avoid a fiscal disaster by sending the House a measure they just cannot refuse.
Even with the prospect of a public that appears to be growing increasingly unhappy with Congress, it remains to be seen if Republicans will blink, or pull the fiscal cliff trigger.
Television networks are reporting that Speaker John Boehner has yet to send out the standard 48 hour in advance notification for House members to return to the capital for business. Time is running out.
The earliest House members could be expected to return to Washington D.C. is Sunday.
According to the New York Times, the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 under former President George W. Bush, would automatically expire in the first two days of January. The lowest tax rate of 10 percent would automatically rise to 15 percent and the rate of 39.6 percent would rise from 35 percent. Everyone would take a hit in their first paycheck issued in January.
Opinion polls are tanking on the public’s assessment of members of Congress, whose views have waned on whether Congress can get its act together to make a deal with Obama.
Not a happy prospect for the country that has enjoyed steady, if not slow growth in unemployment, recently marking its lowest level in the past four years at 7.7 percent. Unemployment was bolstered by housing starts which increased to 3.6 percent, new growth since September. All economists predict that if the Congress chooses not to make a deal with President Obama, the entire country will take an economic hit.
Business is taking the issue seriously. Starbucks has initiated a campaign urging lawmakers to “come together”. CEO Howard Schultz has asked employees in the Starbuck’s D.C. stores to write “Come Together” on coffee cups on Thursday and Friday to build awareness and put pressure on Congress to cut a fiscal deal.
Image of Kaneohe Bay is courtesy of Wikipedia
Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement blog. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.