|Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-11) of Ohio, also the chair-elect of the Congressional Black Caucus|
|Democratic United States President Barack Obama|
|Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner of Ohio (R-8)|
By Kathy Wray Coleman, Publisher, Editor-n-Chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper(www.clevelandurbannews.com)
WASHINGTON, D.C.-President Barack Obama is trying to make due on his campaign promise to stop atrocious tax cuts for the rich to the detriment of middle-class and poor people, meeting with Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner (R-8) of Ohio on Sunday to discuss efforts to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
And what is the fiscal cliff, and how does it impact federal tax increases, spending cuts and the federal deficit?
The fiscal cliff is a term used relative to the economic impact of Congress failing to change certain laws at the end of the year and results from a series of tax increases and spending cuts that would take place unless Congress reaches an agreement by the end of the year on deficit reduction goals.
Some 12 types of tax cuts are at issue, notably including the Bush tax cuts, which include tax cuts for the rich, middle class and others that will expire this year that Congress renewed in 2010 and gives a higher tax cut rate to Americans making in excess of $250,000 annually. And a payroll tax cut holiday, also expiring this year, that gives the American worker a two percent tax cut on taxes that help fund Social Security, a tax cut which on an average is a $1500 annual pay check savings.
President Obama is adamant about eliminating the Bush tax cuts on the rich but wants them to remain for middle class and poor people. And the pay roll tax cut is likely not to be renewed by Congress, congressional leaders have said.
Also included in the discussion are proposed cuts pertaining to The Budget Control Act of 2011, a law Congress passed that brought resolution to the debt ceiling crisis and includes an uncompromising mandate for a bi-partisan super-committee of federal lawmakers formed to determine what cuts will occur regarding the debt ceiling deal in efforts to balance the federal budget this year.
Black federal lawmakers, including Rep. Maxine Waters of California and Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, have been critical of the super-committee and worry that the cuts will disproportionately impact minorities, senior citizens on fixed incomes and the poor. And they want discussions around the fiscal cliff issue to reflect a commitment by Congress to do right by all Americans, including the less fortunate.
"As the end-of-the-year deadline approaches to address key issues affecting our economy the American people demand we take decisive action to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," said Fudge, a Warrensville Hts. Democrat and chairman-elect of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) whose majority Black 11th congressional district includes the east side of Cleveland, its eastern suburbs and a small pocket of Akron and staggering parts of its Summit County suburbs. "Strengthening our economy and getting our nation back on track will require tough choices, but one thing is clear, the path to fiscal sustainability must not be made on the backs of our nation's most vulnerable communities. That is my position on behalf of the constituents I represent and as chair-elect of the Congressional Black Caucus."
Labor union leaders in Ohio are watching closely, and taking action.
"We are rallying today in front of the federal building in downtown Cleveland in support of the payroll tax cut and around the fiscal cliff in general," said Debbie Kline, a community organizer and executive director of Cleveland Jobs with Justice who said the rally is being sponsored by the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor.
No details were provided to reporters on discussions by the two sides as to the meeting Sunday between the president and Rep. Boehner, though White House Spokesman Josh Ernest acknowledged to reporters that the two met at the White House in an effort to reach a consensus on leading Republican and Democratic lawmakers on reaching an agreement that would stop automatic spending cuts and tax increases from going into effect in 2013.
Boehner told reporters after the meeting that he and the president agreed not to make public specifics of their discussion on the controversial fiscal cliff issue, an issue divided along partisan lines, though a handful of Republican lawmakers have said that they agree that eliminating the Bush tax cuts on the rich might bring a necessary compromise sought by the president and his fellow Democrats.
Boehner succeeds former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents California's 12th congressional district and served as House Speaker from 2003 to 2007. He represents Ohio's eighth congressional district, which includes the city of Dayton, sits on the west side of Ohio, and borders Indiana.
Obama fears that a fiscal cliff could heighten a recession already in effect and hamper his efforts at rehabilitating a troubling economy slowly on the rise under his leadership. Others argue that the fiscal cliff is not as devastating as the Obama administration says it is and that some but not all deadlines to determine tax and spending cuts, aside from the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cut, among others, can be remedied next year through laws adopted by Congress.
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