November 30, 2012
The House and Senate reconvened on Monday, November 26 to continue the lame duck session of the 112th Congress in an attempt to complete work on all of the unfinished business. As we reported in the November 9 edition of the Policy Update "So Many Issues, So Little Time for Lame Duck Session," there are numerous fiscal issues to be addressed before December 31 -- and before January 2, when sequestration is scheduled to take effect.
The fiscal issues will be decided by 3 factions -- The White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Staff continues to work since the election to put a plan together that can garner sufficient backing from all three of the parties. The work is difficult since there continues to be a wide discrepancy between all sides. Republicans in the House and Senate are standing firm on their pledge to not increase tax rates on income earners over $250K, but Democrats remain as resolute as prior to elections in their plan to increase tax rates for the wealthy in order to maintain the tax cuts for 98% of tax payers.
However, this week has seen many Republicans distance themselves from the pledge to oppose increases in tax rates for individuals and businesses. This pledge was made to conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, who is the President of Americans for Tax Reform. This signals that it may be possible to bring these fiscal issues to a healthy debate. President Obama continues his campaign style work to explain the issues to the American people so they can request their members vote against any "bad" deal to address the fiscal environment. The President wants to explain to the country how devastating the tax increases would be on the middle class as well as continue to engage people to use their power outside of Washington on their elected officials. AIDS United defines a bad deal as a deal with additional cuts to non-defense discretionary programs without accounting for the $1.5 trillion that has already been cut without significant revenue growth included in the package.
AIDS United continues to remain focused on alerting Members of Congress to the real consequences of sequestration cuts to the HIV domestic portfolio as well as voicing our concerns over any changes in Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs. As Congress and the White House continue to negotiate the likely framework for averting the fiscal crisis AIDS United staff will keep you apprised of the plans as they materialize. At the appropriate time we will ask that you weigh in with your comments to your Members of Congress.