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Chaos Among The Republicans

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Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a staunch conservative in Congress announced his resignation yesterday to head the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The latest fallout in the Republican ranks since President Obama won re-election.

Republicans in the U.S. Congress have been attacking each other over their leadership's "fiscal cliff" offer to Democratic President Barack Obama as a group of governors visited the White House to voice concern about the impact on the states of the year-end tax-and-spending deadline.

Boehner Goes Feral

In only a matter of hours last Tuesday, conservatives from all around Washington blasted House Majority Leader John Boehner's plan:

  • Sen. DeMint, the leader of small-government conservatives, lashed out at House Speaker John Boehner, saying his $2.2 trillion deficit plan would cost jobs and mushroom the debt. This followed quickly by his resignation.

  • Two first-term Republican Tea Party stalwarts - Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan - were removed by party leadership from the powerful budget committee in what Huelskamp called "a vindictive move."

  • A top House conservative, Jim Jordan of Ohio, was scheduled to unveil his own fiscal cliff plan on Tuesday but has backed off in the wake of Boehner's offer to President Obama.

  • "The president's proposal and Speaker Boehner's counteroffer fail to seriously deal with the reality of the problems facing the nation," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group partially backed by billionaires David and Charles Koch. "Conservatives are looking for a leader to fight against tax increases, to push back against wasteful government spending, and address the fiscal challenges in a bold way. Sadly, this plan leaves conservatives wanting."

  • The influential Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, called it "utterly unacceptable." No coincidence DeMint will now lead them.
  • Compromise Or Dive Over Fiscal Cliff

    The disarray in Republican ranks over how far to compromise the party's anti-tax stance could complicate what are expected to be intense negotiations between Boehner and Obama. Each will need the backing of their respective troops in Congress in order to bargain credibly.

    The fiscal cliff refers to steep tax increases and deep automatic spending cuts slated to start to take effect on New Year's Day. If Congress and Obama do not act to stop them, economists have warned the U.S. economy could be thrown back into recession.

    cartoon of the day

    No Consensus On Action

    The Republican leadership offered no immediate explanation for the unusual action, but Boehner has had problems bringing in line the large Tea Party wing in the House. Elected to Congress in force in 2010, they regard the speaker as too much of a compromiser and tied his hands during talks in 2011 on raising the debt ceiling.

    U.S. stock markets opened slightly higher yesterday, with the benchmark Dow Jones industrial average up less than 1 percent after weeks of gyrations tied to the debate on Capitol Hill.

    The dispute between Republicans and Democrats is basically what to do about low individual income tax rates that will expire at year-end. The low rates were first signed into law a decade ago by former President George W. Bush.

    White House Dismisses Boehner Proposal

    Obama wants to extend the low rates for 98 percent of taxpayers, but not for the top 2 percent. Republicans have insisted that the low tax rates be extended for the wealthy as well.

    The White House has already dismissed Boehner's proposals made public, the same treatment Republicans gave Obama's deficit reduction plan offered last week.

    Washington is sinking under a wide number of competing plans to cut the federal deficit. It will only get worse before it may get better.

    But what does the word "better" really mean in the end result?

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