Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick Hits - December 23, 2011

Both the Senate and House passed the temporary 2 month extension to the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction - and promise to negotiate when they return to session in January 2012 to extend the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax Reduction further.  We can all spend the holiday's celebrating the fact that we don't have a 12 month extension of this temporary tax reduction in a deficit neutral bill as desired by the GOP members of the House of Representative.  But we do have the opportunity to do this all over again in 6 or 7 weeks.

This shouldn't be much of a surprise.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, fresh off of the 'win' for the temporary 2 month extension, now says that the extending the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction for the entire 2012 calendar year means that the permanent tax that he and other Democrats crave on 'millionaires' is back on the table.  Not only is it back on the table, but Reid is prepared, because of his victory, to play hardball with the GOP as he just happens to know that there are some in the GOP Leadership who will cave.

Far be it for the GOP Leadership in Congress to decide to play hardball or declare war on the Senate Majority Leader - under whose guidance the Senate accomplished pretty much nothing this past year short of continuing spending resolutions, which didn't reduce spending, and a national debt 'solution', which didn't solve the fiscal irresponsibility.  Reid has a pathetic record to hang his hat on.  How many House bills are stalled in the Senate?  It's been nearly 1,000 days since the Senate passed a national budget.  What has the Senate done to rein in the out of control regulatory fiat process that is standard operating procedure in the Executive branch?

Of course, doing this will require the GOP to take a stand, to go to the American people to make their case, and of course, will result in the majority of the mainstream media then taking shots at the GOP and those in leadership.  Since the GOP leadership still hasn't learned that no matter what they do, the majority of the mainstream media will take shots at them, they decide to do nothing to stay out of the line of fire.  Charles Krauthammer, in his weekly column, basically calls the GOP Leadership morons for their handling of the payroll tax battle.  He compares them to the marching band in the movie Animal House - last seen blindly and dumbly walking into a dead end alley.

The Daily Caller raises a couple of very interesting points in their story about the payroll tax kerfuffle. One is that they've noticed the White House was using fake numbers in the payroll tax fight in order to 'make' their case.  Well, that is about as surprising as Reid promising to play hardball with the GOP and that the millionaire tax is back on the table.

The other one is more interesting.  One of the topics guaranteed to get progressive Democrats hyperventilating is to remotely broach the subject of possible reforms needed for Social Security as the demographics work against the system.  When President Bush (43) tried to bring this up in 2005 - whatever political capital he earned in the 2004 victory was quickly lost as the Democrats demagogued the efforts to reform Social Security.  Now, we have the President and Democrats fighting to reduce the contributions from workers being made towards Social Security benefits - making the program less fiscally viable today - not years from now.  In fact, even though FDR created the program as a retirement insurance program where workers contributed towards the benefits they received - and clearly defined it as not being a welfare / tax system, the Administration and Congressional Democrats now are actively turning it into a tax funded welfare system.

Michael Ramirez takes President Barack Obama to task for his narcissistic and arrogant claim that based on his own interpretation of his domestic and foreign policy record, the President considers himself the 4th greatest President in the history of the country - trailing only Lyndon Johnson (Great Society), Franklin Roosevelt (New Deal), and Abraham Lincoln.

Remember the President's photo op earlier this week when he went Christmas shopping - even taking Bo to the local Petsmart?  Bo was in Hawaii with Michelle Obama and the was he flown back to DC for the photo op?

Notice the usual Democrat sycophants coming forward to complain about efforts to require Voter ID's in order to register or cast a ballot?  One of the usual arguments they try to make is that voter fraud isn't a big problem.  Four NY Democrats plead guilty to committing voter fraud this week - admitting they forged signatures on absentee ballots in a 2009 primary election.  Oh, by the way, all four were affiliated with ACORN.

Two major car bombs were set off in Damascus, Syria today, killing around 40 people.  The Syrian Government said that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks, but the opposition inside Syria to the regime of Assad doubt that is the case.  This as reports are coming out from Syria (which is difficult as the government has cracked down hard on information) that the regime has sent military forces into a village that opposes it's rule - and after several bloody days have killed at least 200 civilians. 

Elsewhere in the region, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority / Fatah are holding reconciliation talks.  Relations between these two terrorist organizations were strained when Hamas took over the management of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority.  Iran has also started to cut funding to Hezbollah and Hamas

Greece returns to the focus in the Eurozone crisis.  The new Greek government is in crisis as it debates on adopting new austerity measures being demanded of it by the European Union as part of the continued efforts to keep the country out of default.  Also creating tension are the discussions as to how much of a 'haircut' private investors in Greece will have to take.  They were originally asked to accept a 21% loss of their investment, but this was then raised to 50% when Greece wasn't able to afford it.  Now private investors are being asked to take a hit higher than 50% in guaranteed losses.  Greece has a €14.5 billion bond redemption due in March - and it will have to get new borrowing in place prior to this to avoid a default.

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