Mike Kirk, director & producer of Frontline's "Cliffhanger," on the fiscal crisis that nearly brought a U.S. collapse.
Rep. John Boehner was re-elected Speaker of the House yesterday after roughly a dozen of his Republican colleagues voted for someone else or withheld their vote in protest of his leadership.
On Starting Point this morning, Former Congressman Steve LaTourette discusses these defections, saying that they don’t “send a good signal” and is really “not a good way to start your career.”
“They really have to come to terms with why they are here,” LaTourette says. “If they’re just here to vote no, we can train a monkey to come and vote no. If they’re here to legislate then they need to be serious about legislating and that’s finding common ground and not saying its 100% or nothing. That’s really not how the system was built.”
The Ohio Republican also discusses the incoming freshman class in Congress and responds to the optimism of Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro.
“They’ll knock that right out of him in the first couple months,” LaTourette remarks. “You’re serving with 434 other high school class presidents. There’s a lot of A type personalities in Congress and it’s very difficult for one voice to punch through. But if he’s got 60 or 70 of his friends that are willing to make a go of it and he can shame some of these other chuckleheads who have done nothing than stand in the way of progress, maybe he can get something done.”
The House of Representatives passed the Senate's fiscal cliff bill around eleven o'clock last night, with 85 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for the measure.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn is one of the 157 Representatives that decided to vote against the bill, and she joins Starting Point this morning to discuss her decision and to explain the nature of House GOP negotiations about the legislation.
"We had a very spirited debate, as you can well imagine, but it was healthy, it was good and members of the House, Republican members of the House decided was we are done with kicking this can down the road," Rep. Blackburn says. "This was a crisis of Harry Reid's making. It was because of the inaction in the Senate that we found ourselves here on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day taking these actions, so the House is saying no more."
Blackburn also weighs in on the upcoming negotiations over the debt ceiling, the sequester and the budget resolution, emphasizing that she will be focusing on cutting government spending.
"Compromise is not a dirty word, but what is, is back room deals. The era of back room deals are over," Rep. Blackburn says. "This administration needs to realize they cannot continue to spend money they've already spent. We are going to have very spirited, very thoughtful debates on cutting what this government spends."
Late last night, the House of Representatives passed the Senate's fiscal cliff bill by a margin of 257 to 157.
The deal prevents tax hikes for couples earning less than $450 thousand a year and caps itemized deductions for couples making over $300 thousand a year. It also extends unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans and permanently adjusts the alternative minimum tax for inflation.
Rep. Steve Israel voted in favor of the bill despite the fact that he "would have liked to see more deficit reduction," and he joins Starting Point this morning to discuss his decision.
"At the end of the day, House Democrats injected some adult supervision, some pragmatism and solutions. That's what the country wants. I voted for it because falling off the cliff isn't an option," Rep. Israel says. "I wished the Republicans produced more votes... They have the majority in the House of Representatives, and it was House Democrats who stopped us from going off the cliff."
The New York Democrat also responds to the fact that the House failed to address legislation to fund Hurricane Sandy relief, calling the move "indefensible."
"Just when we avoided one cliff, the House Republicans threw us over another," Rep. Israel says. "We rushed aid to Kabul and Baghdad when they had damage, but when it comes to aid to New York and New Jersey, the House Republican leadership decided we weren't worth it."
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a Senate bill that temporarily brings the U.S. back from the depths of the fiscal cliff. The 257-167 vote largely fell along partisan lines: 172 Democrats voted yes and 16 Democrats voted no; 151 Republicans voted no and 85 Republicans voted yes. Speaker of the House John Boehner was one person who voted in favor of the legislation while other top GOP leaders like Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy voted against the legislation. The deal means couples earning less than $450,000 a year are spared an income tax hike.
The legislation also means that itemized deductions are capped for couples making over $300,000 a year and unemployment benefits are extended for a year for 2-million Americans. Another key piece addressed in the bill is the alternative minimum tax which gets a permanent adjustment for inflation. Jen Psaki served as the Traveling Press Secretary for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign. She joins “Starting Point” this morning to weigh in on the fiscal cliff deal.
Psaki says that while there is no question “that everyone in the White House, the president included is happy to have this vote in the rearview mirror,” lawmakers are still gearing up to face a number of other obstacles in the coming months. She says, “making sure that the congress votes to increase the debt limit is not the president’s and the White House’s idea of a second term agenda.” Psaki adds the president still has the American people behind him and “has been very tough in negotiating and making clear to the American people” what the stakes are moving forward.
Responding to democratic skeptics of the deal Psaki says “there’s a lot that progressive democrats…should be excited about in this package,” like making the middle-class tax cut permanent. She adds, “of course it wasn’t perfect but democrats have to be careful about not letting perfect be the enemy of the good and this package is good.”
Earlier this morning, the Senate passed a plan crafted by Vice President Biden and Minority Leader McConnell to fend off the fiscal cliff. The bill is now in the hands of the House of Representatives, who are expected to take up the measure later today.
Among other things, the bill would extend Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 a year, and couples earning less than $450,000, while allowing taxes on those earning more to rise.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) stops by Starting Point this morning to explain why he thinks that he'll likely vote against the bill.
"This looks like typical insider deal for Washington, D.C., where they get 89 votes in the Senate, but at the end of the day, our debt will get bigger, spending will go up, taxes will increase, and I think Americans will continue to be very upset at Washington," Huelskamp says.
Just after 2 o'clock in the morning yesterday, a bill to address the fiscal cliff crafted by Vice President Biden and Minority Leader McConnell passed overwhelmingly in the Senate by an 89-8 margin.
The GOP-controlled House has agreed to consider the proposal later this morning, although it's unclear how the votes will fall.
Rep. Elijah Cummings is one of the Congressmen who will be addressing the legislation in the House today and he talks to John Berman on Starting Point this morning to explain why he's leaning toward voting for the bill.
"One of the things I've emphasized over and over again is that politics is about the business of compromise" Cummings says. "I don't necessarily like everything in this piece of legislation... but at some point, we've got to take care of people like folks in my district who through this deal will at least be able to get the unemployment benefits, and a number of other things that mean something to middle class families."
Early Tuesday a bill crafted by Vice President Joe Biden and Minority Leader Mitch Mcconnell passed overwhelmingly by an 89-to-8 margin just after 2 o'clock in the morning. The GOP-controlled House has agreed to consider it later this morning. If the house votes "yes," the measure would generate about 600-billion dollars in new revenues over the next ten years. This morning Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) joins “Starting Point” to discuss the Senate passing a fiscal cliff deal and whether or not it will pass in the House if it is put to a vote.
Doggett says while he would like to be a “yes vote,” he still wants to see the fine print of the agreement passed by Senate members early Tuesday morning. He adds, “Clearly there’s some good features of [the deal]. I’m pleased they reached a last minute agreement but that agreement presented on midnight eve instead of turning into a pumpkin midnight sort of became landmark legislation.”
Doggett who also serves as a member of the Budget Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee says he thinks the deal “will pass in some form.” He adds, “There’s still a question as to whether amendments are offered here.”
The key figures involved in fiscal cliff talks have released few details about negotiations since they restarted Sunday afternoon. Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took over negotiations on Sunday. Sourves say a big stumbling block has been avoided due to Republicans reportedly dropping their demand to reduce social security "cost of living increases." National Journal reporter Chris Frates has been working the story from Capitol Hill all night into Monday morning and weighs in on the latest fiscal cliff negotiations.
Ken Rogoff, former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, joins "Starting Point" on Friday to discuss the impending fiscal cliff.
"Most likely they'll reach a deal in a few weeks," Rogoff says, arguing that the long-term problem is the inability of Republicans and Democrats to agree on larger issues.
"Well, we'd really like to see some forward movement in the bigger problems, the tax system. There are actually things we need to spend more money on, some things we need to spend less money on. It's dysfunctional. And those ideas are out there. They've been discussed. But they've reached this point where both sides are saying I'm going to hold my breath until I get my way," Rogoff explains.
Starting Point airs weekdays from 7am to 9am ET on CNN. Check in often to join the daily conversation.