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Poll: Americans Say 113th Congress is Worst Ever.

Image: Poll: Americans Say 113th Congress is Worst EverSpeaker of the House John Boehner swears in members of the 113th U.S. House of Representatives during the opening session at the U.S. Capitol on January 3, 2013.

By Lisa Barron

An overwhelming majority of Americans say the 113th Congress is the worst in their lifetime, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday.

While nearly three quarters of the respondents said this has been a “do-nothing” Congress, two thirds of those surveyed said the current Congress is the worst in their lifetime, with 28 percent disagreeing.

Editor’s Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll 

“That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young old — all think this year’s Congress has been the worst they can remember,” Keating Holland, CNN polling director, said.

“Older Americans — who have lived through more congresses — hold more negative views of the 113th Congress than younger Americans. Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree that this has been the worst session of Congress in their lifetimes.”

The telephone poll of 1,035 adults nationwide showed that 73 percent say Congress has done nothing to solve the country’s problems, with roughly 25 percent disagreeing.

Indeed, less than 60 bills have been passed and signed into law during the past year, according to CNN, and there is not much optimism that next year will be much better.

Fifty-two percent believe the policies of Democratic leaders in Congress would move the country in the wrong direction, and 54 percent think the policies of the Republican leaders would do the same, the survey found. The poll, conducted Dec. 16-19, had a sampling error of plus or minus three percent.

One of the first tests of where Congress is headed in 2014 will be the fight over the debt ceiling, and analysts are somewhat divided about the prospects, reports The Washington Times.

“I don’t think there’s any political reason why they’ll fight over this, at least not to the degree that they have in the past,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said Wednesday on CNN.

But others maintain that could still be gridlock, despite the bipartisan budget dealreached earlier this month.

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“I believe we very quickly began to move away from ‘Kumbaya’ a couple weeks ago,” Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said Tuesday on MSNBC.

“I’m afraid we’re not going to see a lot [of cooperation], but we’ll see some,” he added.

Related stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Just How Bad Was Obama’s Fiscal Game?.

  • Even as the United States found itself poised to go over the fiscal cliff on New Year’s Eve, a deal was emerging — and liberals did not particularly like it. It’s not that President Obama compromised on tax rates — though they didn’t like that either — it’s that he compromised on tax rates after he insisted he wouldn’t compromise on tax rates. The deal being hammered out in the Senate reportedly would extend the Bush tax cuts for income under $450,000 — instead of the $250,000 Democrats have long wanted — and estates worth more than $5 million will be taxed at 40 percent. Unemployment benefits would be extended, but Social Security cuts appear to be off the table for now. Here’s why liberals — including a former member of Obama’s economic team — think Obama’s got no game.

Team Cave: The Roster, and the Complaints

Jared Bernstein, former member of Obama’s economic team. Compromise is expected, he writes, but wealthier people will get the smallest tax hike Obama’s offered — including during the debt limit fight in the summer of 2011.

The thing that worried me most in the endgame is that the WH would be so intent on a deal that they’d lock in too few revenues with no path back to the revenue well, and that they’d leave the debt ceiling hanging out there…

Those fears will be realized unless the President really and truly refuses to negotiate on the debt ceiling and is willing to blow past those who would stage a strategic default.  If he is not, and if this cliff deal passes, then I fear the WH may have squandered its hard won leverage.

New York‘s Jonathan Chait. Obama is revealing horrifyingly bad negotiating skills, Chait says, by agreeing to letting the Bush tax cuts expire on income over $450,000, instead of $250,000, which he campaigned on.

“[T]the tax cuts are the one area where [Obama] enjoys overwhelming leverage over the Republicans. Their only threat is to block extension of tax cuts on income under $250,000, a wildly unpopular stance countless Republicans have acknowledged they could not sustain for long without courting an enormous public backlash. This is the hand where Obama needed to collect all the chips. Instead he is allowing Republicans to whittle down the sum by essentially threatening to shoot themselves in the head.”

Obama only encouraged Republicans to play chicken with the debt limit in a few months: “Obama may think his conciliatory approach has helped avoid economic chaos. Instead, he is courting it.” In a followup post, Chait says new details of the reported compromise make it seem “less bad.” He says, “What we have now is a spectrum of outcomes that will play itself out over the next few months, ranging from ‘okay’ to ‘terrible.'”

The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman. Krugman calls Obama the “Conceder in Chief?” He sees “a bad and upsetting deal but not as terrible as initial rumors had it.” There were no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. But Obama traded $150 billion or so in taxes on the wealthy for unemployment benefits being extended for a year and other spending provisions. The worst part, Krugman says, is that Obama revealed he will cave on what he wants most. “[W]henever the president says that there’s an issue on which he absolutely, positively won’t give ground, you can count on him, you know, giving way — and soon, too.”

Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin. Harkin said on the Senate Floor Monday, “As I see this thing developing, as I have said, no deal is better than a bad deal… and this is a very bad deal, the way things are shaping up.”

The New Republic‘s Noam Scheiber. Schieber says he actually hates the reported compromise. “I think the president made a huge mistake by negotiating over what he’d previously said was non-negotiable,” Schieber says, referring to the Bush tax cuts. “If Obama will cave even when he’s got all the leverage, when won’t he cave? Never, the Republicans will assume.”

The New Republic‘s Timothy Noah goes further: “Kill this deal.”

At Lawyers, Guns & Money, Scott Lemieux writes, “As always, it’s not that I’m opposed to any possible deal that makes concessions on tax rates, but I’m certainly opposed to concessions when the Republicans aren’t actually offering much of anything in return.”

…and the White House’s Case

The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent writes that the White House thinks Republicans might not be as willing to give on tax rates after we go over the cliff as some liberals predicted.

And so, the idea is that it’s better to lock in a deal on rates now, at, say, $450,000, extend unemployment benefits, and pocket those gains and continue the fight next year. Raising the income threshold is obviously not desirable, but Dems will have broken the decades-long GOP opposition to raising tax rates on the rich, pocketed hundreds of billions in revenues, made the tax code more progressive, and extended unemployment benefits — all without agreeing to any spending cuts yet…

Republicans will use the debt ceiling to extract spending cuts, but Dems might counter by demanding more revenues via tax reform that closes loopholes and deductions for the wealthy.



Five things to watch in the U.S. vice presidential debate.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. vice presidential debates usually don’t matter much, but the October 11 showdown betweenDemocratic incumbent Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan could be an exception.

Democrats are counting on Biden to blunt the momentum ofRepublican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has gained ground after a strong debate performance against President Barack Obama last week.

Opinion polls show the race for the White House virtually tied with four weeks to go until the election.

Here are five things to watch for in Thursday’s debate in Danville, Kentucky:


Biden and Ryan have shown a greater willingness to mix it up than their buttoned-down bosses, and both seem comfortable playing the traditional vice-presidential role of attack dog.

“I’d be surprised if there weren’t far more fireworks in this debate than there were in the firstpresidential debate,” said University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer.

Biden, 69, is not known for his reserve, and his outspoken remarks on the campaign trail have sometimes made news for the wrong reasons. But as a veteran of two presidential campaigns and 36 years in the Senate, he’s an experienced debater who can combine a down-to-earth demeanor with deep policy knowledge.

As one of the conservative movement’s foremost thinkers, Ryan, 42, combines a polite demeanor with an unflinching willingness to outline steps that would dramatically scale back the role of the federal government.

He has not debated at this level before, but he has years of experience selling conservative ideas to voters who are not predisposed to liking them. His congressional district in southeastern Wisconsin is one of the most politically balanced in the country, but he has won re-election easily over the past 14 years even as he has called for scaling back popular entitlement programs.


Democrats feel that Obama let too many of Romney’s assertions on taxes, health care and other topics go unchallenged during their first of three televised debates on Wednesday. Since then, the Obama campaign has rolled out a string of online videos that accuse Romney of lying about energy, health care, taxes and education.

Biden has said he won’t let any questionable claims go unchallenged, and Democratic allies say it will be important to prevent Ryan from glossing over controversial policy details.

“You have to call these guys out if they’re going to try to pretend to be people that they’re not,” said Jared Bernstein, a former economist for the Obama administration.


Last week’s presidential debate was all over the map on economic issues, but the vice presidentialencounter could hinge on one topic: Medicare.

Ryan built his reputation on a proposal that would partially privatize the government-run medical plan for the elderly and handicapped in an effort to prevent health costs from swamping the federal budget. Democrats say the plan would force retirees to pay thousands of dollars more for medical treatment.

Romney adopted the idea as his own last year, though he has avoided explaining in detail its financial impact for participants and the country as a whole.

Expect Biden to come out swinging on that one – Democrats have won elections for decades by warning that Republicans would gut the program, and the issue seems to be working in their favor this year.

But Ryan has years of practice describing the plan to skeptical audiences. Thursday’s debate could be the best chance yet for the Republican ticket to win over independent voters who worry that Obama hasn’t done enough to rein in trillion-dollar budget deficits.


The Romney campaign has stepped up its critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy after last month’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East, and Ryan doubtless will be well-briefed on the ins and outs of foreign affairs.

But in Biden, he’ll be facing a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who handled the Obama administration’s withdrawal from Iraq.

On paper, the mismatch is stark. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Biden has an advantage.

“Sometimes you get so far down in the weeds that you know so much that you’re ineffective,” said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson. “What Biden has to do is take everything that he knows and distill it into easy-to-digest sound bites for voters who are not experts. Ryan has to do the same thing, but he has to sound as if he knows enough to be credible.”


This is the only time these two candidates will meet in a debate this year, but it might not be the last. If Obama wins re-election on November 6, Ryan would be viewed as a leading contender for the 2016 Republican nomination. As sitting vice president, Biden could have a strong chance at winning his party’s nomination in four years as well.

But if the debate is an early audition for the next presidential race, the risks are more on the down side as a poor performance can harm a candidate’s chances down the road.

Republican nominee Sarah Palin’s winking 2008 performance against Biden was lampooned by late-night television shows. Democrat John Edwards’ reputation took a hit after his 2004 matchup with Republican Vice President Dick Cheney.

Dan Quayle may have been on the receiving end of the most famous barb in debating history in 1988 after the Republican likened himself to Democratic President John Kennedy. “Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” Democrat Lloyd Bentsen replied.

Though Quayle and his boss, George H.W. Bush, went on to win the White House, the zinger helped cement Quayle’s reputation as a political lightweight. He has not served in elected office since.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Paul Simao)


By Andy Sullivan | Reuters

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