Chicago Sun-Times
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Recently in fiscal cliff Category

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Nickelback, more popular than Congress

The United States Congress has had a rough go of it lately. Adding to the historic amount of bickering and gridlock that has paralyzed the legislative body, Congress took a huge PR hit with the near-disastrous handling of the fiscal cliff debacle (and will revisit it in a few weeks when they have to take up the debt ceiling). And just moments after finally approving a lackluster fiscal cliff deal, House Republicans refused to take up a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief funds (though they later took it up after being bullied into it by people with common sense). Not that Republicans have been alone in facing the ire of angry constituents; Dems are still smarting from the recent scandal-ridden resignation of Illinois' Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Given all of the above, it's no surprise to find that Congress's approval rating is very, very low.

So low that responders to poll questions by (the admittedly Democratic-leaning) Public Policy Polling preferred cockroaches, lice, colonoscopies, and Canadian meh-rock band Nickelback to Congress.

It's gross to have lice but at least they can be removed in a way that given the recent reelection rates members of Congress evidently can't: Lice 67 percent, Congress 19 percent

Colonoscopies are not a terribly pleasant experience but at least they have some redeeming value that most voters aren't seeing in Congress: Colonoscopies 58 percent, Congress 31 percent

It may be true that everyone hates Nickelback, but apparently everyone hates Congress even more: Nickelback 39 percent, Congress 32 percent.


Other items more popular than Congress, according to PPP: Carnies (39 percent to 31 percent), root canals (56 percent to 32 percent) and those much-maligned enemies of freedom circa the Second Iraq War, the French, had a higher rating as well (46 percent to 37 percent).

But it wasn't all bad news for Congress:

By relatively close margins it beats out Lindsey Lohan (45/41), playground bullies (43/38), and telemarketers (45/35). And it posts wider margins over the Kardashians (49/36), John Edwards (45/29), lobbyists (48/30), Fidel Castro (54/32), Gonorrhea (53/28), Ebola (53/25), Communism (57/23), North Korea (61/26), and meth labs (60/21)


While this may seem like the nadir for Congress, they just swore in a new class last week, meaning they may be able to turn their image around. But given the need to revisit more debt talks in the coming weeks, there's still a possibility this new class could dig the hole even deeper.

[h/t The Hill]

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden arrive to make a statement regarding the passage of the fiscal cliff bill in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Following are President Obama's remarks Tuesday night following the House vote to pass the Senate tax compromise on the "fiscal cliff" bill:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Happy new year, everybody.

A central premise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working, middle class Americans. Tonight we've done that.

Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans while preventing a middle class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into a recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America.

I want to thank all the leaders of the House and Senate. In particular, I want to thank the work that was done by my extraordinary vice president, Joe Biden, as well as Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell.

Everybody worked very hard and I appreciate it. And Joe, once again, I want to thank you for your great work.

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AP photo
The 257-167 roll call Tuesday by which the House passed the agreement that avoided the so-called fiscal cliff of middle-class tax increases and spending cuts and sent the measure to President Barack Obama.

Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet has the news and analysis on the measure. Below is how the House voted on the compromise legislation.

A "yes" vote is a vote to pass the bill.

Voting yes were 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans.

Voting no were 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans.

X denotes those not voting.

There are 3 vacancies in the 435-member House.

How they voted:

President Obama is due to address the fiscal cliff at 4 p.m. Chicago time. Watch live below.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 8, 2012

Hello, everybody. Over the last few weeks, there's been a lot of talk about deadlines we're facing on jobs and taxes and investments. But with so much noise and so many opinions flying around, it can be easy to lose sight of what this debate is really about. It's not about which political party comes out on top, or who wins or loses in Washington. It's about making smart decisions that will have a real impact on your lives and the lives of Americans all across the country.

Right now, middle-class tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. Time is running out. And there are two things that can happen.

First, if Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1st. A typical middle-class family of four would get a $2,200 tax hike. That would be bad for families, it would be bad for businesses, and it would drag down our entire economy.

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Beware the "fiscal cliff."

That's the warning that's been sounded by politicians, the media, and taxpayers since summer, gaining full force the moment President Barack Obama won re-election. While the term has only recently become part of the national vernacular, the build-up to this pivotal economic decision has been building for many years. The Democrats have refused to cut spending entitlements and Obama wants to raise taxes on the top income brackets. The Republicans, led by conservative super-lobbyist Grover Norquist, refuse to raise taxes and are opposed to losing currently implemented tax breaks. Also at stake is the defense budget that Dems want to scale back with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ending while Republicans are pushing back on any additional defense cuts.

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(Click to embiggen)

Weekly Address: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts to Grow the Economy (transcript)

Hello, everybody.

On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.

That's why I've invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together. I also intend to bring in business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington to get their ideas and input as well.

At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That's the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It's a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. It's a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it's a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit - decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future.

Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars' worth of spending, and I intend to work with both parties to do more. But as I said over and over again on the campaign trail, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue - and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That's how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that's the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing - all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.

Already, I've put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Now, I'm open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach - that includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

Now we need a majority in Congress to listen - and they should start by making sure taxes don't go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It's a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There's no reason to wait.

We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That's part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won't tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word. Not when so many of your families are still struggling.

Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That's what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.