It’s back! Just when you thought you might never hear the words “fiscal cliff” again, the sequel to this horror movie is about to be released. Look for it in your local theater, radio, TV and website—non-stop, 24/7—beginning sometime in February.
Yes, those irrepressible Republicans in Congress have cooked up yet another manufactured crisis and are once again holding the U.S. economy hostage. This time they are threatening to cause a U.S. government default unless they get their way. You know—the same stunt they pulled last summer. And what are congressional Republicans demanding as ransom to spare the economy? The same things they were demanding last time we went through this ordeal: benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
We've reported for several months now the "Fix the Debt" group is a Trojan horse. It cynically calls for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits (in the name of "deficit reduction") while advocating for lower taxes for corporations and businesses that ship jobs overseas.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka responds to the Senate agreement on the "fiscal cliff":
The agreement passed by the Senate last night is a breakthrough in beginning to restore tax fairness and achieves some key goals of working families. It does not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. It raises more than $700 billion over 10 years, including interest savings, by ending the Bush income tax cuts for families making more than $450,000 a year. And in recognition of the continuing jobs crisis, it extends unemployment benefits for a year. A strong message from voters and a relentless echo from grassroots activists over the last six weeks helped get us this far.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), working families and small business owners, along with with the activist group The Action, took to Capitol Hill on Friday to tell Congress to reject tax breaks for the richest Americans and to avoid raising taxes on middle-class families. The group gathered beneath a massive Times Square-style disco ball, where a New Year's Eve-like countdown was held to show that Republicans were planning to "drop the ball" on working families.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B” failure and the latest fiscal developments:
Speaker Boehner’s failure last night should be seen as one thing: A reset button to listen to the will of the American people. The slate is clean and we call on the President to come forward with an offer that reflects the reasons he won the election. Across the country working people continue to demand no tax cuts for the richest two percent and no benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. At this point, cuts to the Social Security COLA to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent should be off the table. The President and Congress have no obligation to radical Republicans who have no ground to stand on. What they do have is the backing of millions of hardworking women and men tired of being held hostage by far right-wing Republicans who clearly have little interest in governing.
A group of union members, community activists and business owners told Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) there is one thing they and most Americans don’t have on their holiday gift list—a tax hike for the middle class and benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, especially as a result of a congressional Republican refusal to make the wealthy pay their fair share that sends the nation over the so-called fiscal cliff.
Anyone who wants to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits to finance massive tax giveaways for the rich must have a heart two sizes too small.
Today, we're tweeting at House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, telling them to stop holding working people hostage just so the wealthiest 2% can receive more tax giveaways.
UPDATE: With a large number of House Republicans refusing to back asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled his “Plan B.” from the floor last night and adjourned the House. No negotiations between Republicans and the Obama White House on the expiring middle class tax cuts and automatic spending cuts set to go into effect Jan. 1 are scheduled. But a White House spokesman said, “The president will work with Congress to get this done, and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy.”
If House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “really wanted to address the true causes of our long-term budget imbalance, the last thing he would ask Congress to do is pass more wasteful tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel said in a letter to House members today.
Amid reports that negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” include possible cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other vital lifelines that families count on, worker activists are rallying on Capitol Hill today. They are calling on Congress to fight back against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and to insist that lawmakers ensure the nation’s wealthiest pay their fair share in taxes.