Michael Sorge - SUNY Purchase

After months of promising a “balanced approach” to reducing the national deficit, President Barack Obama is backing off of his own compromise proposal, and he now refuses to cut one cent from the government’s bloated budget.

Mr. Obama and liberal Democrats in the Senate and House have coalesced to form a stubborn obstacle to even small reductions in spending on the nation’s many social welfare programs.

In fact what was once a concession by Democrats, that tax increases on the wealthy would have to be combined with spending, has now largely turned into a one sided “negotiation” with Democrats now saying that any spending curtailments must come after tax rates go up on Americans making more than $250,000 a year.

Democrats, emboldened by positive results in the presidential and congressional elections, have given up even the appearance of supporting efforts to cut spending.

The nation is in serious financial trouble. But instead of the sober debates in Congress that one would expect, we see nothing but dueling press conferences featuring Mr. Obama returning to the campaign trail to stoke class resentment and drum up support for higher taxes.

According to the GOP House Speaker John Boehner “no substantive progress has been made” in the meetings (taking place mostly in secret) regarding the looming fiscal cliff.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was reported to have laughed at a new Obama administration proposal, delivered by Secretary Treasurer Timothy Geithner, which included 50 billion dollars more spending for stimulus in an effort to “cut” the deficit. However, the idea of raising taxes has become more popular with some Republicans too.

In the wake of the GOP’s election loss, some Republicans believe that the national electorate will look at their party with scorn if it is seen as protecting the rich at the expense of the middle class. GOP Senator Tom Cole is typical of those members who think that, while conservatives may be philosophically correct in wanting to protect job creators, they are losing the PR war with Mr. Obama, and that the better of two bad options is to make a deal that allows for increased taxes.

While there is discontent and infighting among the GOP between moderates and those who are strict fiscal conservatives, the Democrats have solidified. Talks of increased revenue, and of the rich paying their “fair share” are abundant. Never mind that the wealthy already pay a greater share of their income than the poor or middle class. The top 20% earn 50.8% of the income but pay 67.9% of the taxes. Meanwhile, the bottom 40% of U.S. earners make 14.9% of the income but pay only 4.1% of the total income tax.

Most earners in the bottom 40% actually pay no income taxes at all, but instead get money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits. How then do the Democrats keep a straight face when they claim that the rich aren’t paying their “fair share?”

And what about our out-of-control spending? The only discussion regarding the sacrosanct programs of Medicare and Social Security from Democrats is when Illinois Senator Richard Durbin opined, “The Social Security is a separate thing. It does not add a penny to the debt.”

The president and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have broken their promise of a “balanced approach” to solving the fiscal crisis. They are not interested in cutting our out of control spending in the least, despite a national debt that totals more than $16 trillion.

If the U.S. falls over the “fiscal cliff”—it will be because the president and his fellow Democrats have broken their promises to the American people.

Fix contributor Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

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With Barack Obama’s re-election triumph in hand, there is reason to think that the investigation into the terrorist attacks that occurred in Libya could move forward now. The president, after all, has less at risk now if there were any political fallout.

However, the Congressional inquiry looking into exactly what happened on Sept 11th when Islamic extremists killed four Americans at a consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, has been stymied.

The David Petraeus sex scandal has enveloped Washington DC, seemingly drowning out the coverage of the Libyan attack, when it ought to be fueling it.

President Obama dismissed the questions being asked by GOP senators and representatives. In a press conference on Wednesday, he remained obstinate in his apparent willingness to nominate Ambassador Susan Rice as Secretary of State, even though she appeared on numerous talk shows stating falsely that the attack in Benghazi was not terrorism but rather, was a political protest gone awry.

Obama challenged Sen. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have called for thorough investigations into what transpired, and into what the White House knew and why Ms. Rice’s comments were inaccurate.

Obama said, “She made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me… But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence… to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

The president’s statement only leads to another question: Why was Rice sent out by the White House to represent information on the topic in the first place considering she had no hand in the inner-decision making?

Sen. Graham hit back hard after the press conference, retorting, “Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi. I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.”

Mr. Obama dodged a question about whether he personally gave orders to help the Americans at the consulate in real time.

So far the shifting and bumbling response by the administration regarding the motives behind the extremists who carried out the assault has not been accounted for. Mr. Petraeus, who was scheduled to testify this Thursday on the Benghazi situation has had his testimony delayed.

The Obama administration has continually refused to answer whether they knew that the consulate was attacked many times prior to Sept 11th citing that the investigation is ongoing.

Yet, in reality, the investigation isn’t “ongoing.” It’s going nowhere.

In his remarks to the press the president said there was “no debate” from him that the matter needed to be investigated. Yet it’s been two months since Ambassador Stevens was murdered and a clear picture of before, during, and after the attacks has still not emerged.

At his press conference, the president still wouldn’t answer direct questions about what he knew about attacks on the consulate prior to Sept 11th. Nor has he provided critical details about how he responded during and immediately after the fatal Benghazi attack.

Furthermore, the White House claims that neither the president nor anyone in his cabinet knew that the Director of the CIA was under investigation by the FBI since late summer–not until the day after the election.

Fix Contributor Michael Sorge is a student at Purchase College, State University of New York.

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Mitt Romney was too conservative. Or was he too moderate? Does the GOP need to reach out to Latinos more or move right and energize their conservative base? Today Republicans are left pondering why they lost this election.

Democrats are in a celebratory mode, despite a looming “fiscal cliff” and serious economic promises facing the nation. Republicans, many who predicted that Mr. Romney would pull off a decisive victory, were left confused but with plenty of blame. Karl Rove on Fox News was even criticizing the station for calling Ohio too early.

Late night reversals and predictions gave the presumed “red” state of Virginia to Obama. The intensely close nature of the Florida race showed that Mr. Romney was in for a tough night.

There is evidence for those in the GOP who claim that it is not the Republican vision that was rejected by American voters, but rather the extreme on the ideological right. Democrats retained control of the Senate after a series of Tea Party inspired nominations made gaffes regarding abortion and rape. If it had not been for these nominations, more traditional Republican candidates would have won, they claim.

Steve Hayes, columnist for the Weekly Standard, disagreed and argued that it was moderation and lack of serious conservatism that was culpable for the defeat. He said the future of the GOP relied on “substantive conservatives,” like Bobby Jindal. He argued that the American public wants “people who are big thinkers and who get stuff done and people like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio…”

George Will, a conservative commentator, said on ABC News that there were now “two factions in the Republican Party”, saying that there was a libertarian group focusing on pocketbook issues while the social conservatives focus on abortion and gay marriage. Mr. Will also derided the President saying that “Obama wants to be on the Mount Rushmore of liberalism.”

Though Mr. Obama retained a sizable part of the electoral college, the nation is still starkly divided. For much of the night Mr. Romney held a lead in the nation popular vote, though it is approximately 50 % to 49% for the President now.

A changing demography of the American electorate could also be a conundrum for future Republican politicians and leaders. Whites, though breaking toward Mr. Romney, are being overruled by a growing Latino community. Other minorities including blacks also overwhelmingly support Democrats and liberal policies.

“It is going to take a long time for the Republicans to get the state of the country,” Matthew Dowd, a consultant to George W. Bush, opined.  Many in and out of the GOP echoed similar sentiments.

In election night speeches to the divided public both Mr. Romney and the incumbent struck conciliatory and bipartisan tones. Mr. Romney chided “partisan” bickering while Mr. Obama specifically said he would “sit down with Gov. Romney” to deal with big issues.

President Obama’s speech was delivered in an optimistic tone, however he laid out a liberal agenda despite the fact that nearly half the nation voted against him and his policies. He stated that citizens must not ask what government will do for them and must rely on self-governance, while also saying that we are a co-dependent family.

How the social conservatives, libertarians, and moderate Republicans mend will take a long time to see. The crucial question among the caucusing Republican lawmakers heading to Capitol Hill is which post-loss narrative will prevail? Some fear a greater shift to the center, while others warn against a turn to the right.

What is certain is that all Americans will see partisan gridlock put to the test again soon, as the debate over the “fiscal cliff” comes near.

Fix Contributor Michael Sorge is a student at Purchase College, State University of New York.

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(Image: Brendan Mruk / Wikimedia Commons)

New York – Fallen trees and branches blocked sidewalks and roads. Extreme waves from the Long Island Sound destroyed fences and homes. A restaurant caught fire as a back-up generator malfunctioned. Here in New York City, neighborhoods were bombarded with deadly winds unleashed by Tropical Storm Sandy.

Public and private schools were closed at all levels—colleges and elementary schools alike. The Metropolitan Transit Authority halted all city subways and buses Sunday night in anticipation of what forecasters were calling a historic storm that would level many parts of the eastern seaboard.

They were right, as MTA chairman Joseph Lota said, “I can say unequivocally that the MTA last night faced a disaster as devastating as it has ever faced in its history.”

Bronx resident Mary Halton, who has enjoyed daily walks since she retired, said she was upset that the storm had upended her routine and kept her inside for three days in a row. “I just walked back and forth in my apartment, through my kitchen,” she remarked.

Living feet from the Long Island Sound, Halton declared, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Her life was just one of the millions upended by the dangerous storm.

The presidential race between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney was suspended. Neither wanted to appear insensitive, and both cancelled campaign rallies.

Mr. Obama visited New Jersey on Tuesday to tour the damage that Sandy wreaked on the state, and said he wasn’t worried about the storm’s impact on the approaching election. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that the damage to the popular tourist sight the Jersey Shore left “most of it gone”.

Officials cautioned residents across the Northeast to stay inside in order to remain clear of fallen debris and blowing projectiles, as the strong winds from the storm persisted.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg cancelled the annual Greenwich Village Halloween parade, but while said most of the streets would be cleared in time for children to celebrate Halloween,

Many are in no mood to celebrate. The Wall Street Journal estimated that the damage could top at least $10 billion dollars. Con Edison said that 200,000 people lost power during Tropical Storm Irene last year, which affected the Northeast as well. This year the number of people without power increased to 350,000 as a result of Sandy.

Sandy was a lethal storm. Ten people were killed as a result of the storm in New York City alone. The New York Times reported that 39 people died “within 48 hours” in the numerous states that were hit by Sandy. The storm had already claimed more than 60 lives in the Caribbean islands.

Fix Contributor Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase, and a resident of New York City.

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(Image: NASA / Wikimedia Commons)

With serious conflicts brewing internationally, Monday night’s debate represented an opportunity for both presidential candidates to hash out their differences on Libya, Iran, and a multitude of other foreign policy problems America faces. Instead the third and final presidential debate featured the U.S. economy on center stage once again.

What transpired represented a striking difference from the previous debates, as both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took on more conciliatory tones and commended each other, at times.

The first debate was characterized by a sleepy and unenthusiastic performance by Mr. Obama. The second featured a tense scuffle over national and international issues. But agreement was the theme Monday night.

Candidates generally agreed on the path ahead for the war in Afghanistan and on the scope of other threats facing the nation. Yet, on the economy, all the agreements came to an end.

Mr. Romney took a swing at Mr. Obama’s economic record. “In order to be able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be strong. America must lead. And for that to happen, we have to strengthen our economy here at home. You can’t have 23 million people struggling to get a job,” he said.

Mr. Obama said he was, “making sure that we’re bringing manufacturing back to our shores so that we’re creating jobs here, as we’ve done with the auto industry… including retraining our workers for the jobs of tomorrow; doing everything we can to control our energy.” The moderator, Bob Scheiffer, even had to remind both men to get back to foreign policy.

Mr. Romney showed poise in an attempt to convince viewers that he is capable of being a strong commander-in-chief and resisted attacking his rival personally. However, Mr. Obama seemed bitter at times and wasted no time by attacking his GOP opponent in his first answer saying that Mr. Romney’s foreign policy was “all over the map.”

Unlike the last debate which had a turbulent exchange over Libya, Mr. Romney did get heated when Mr. Obama took out of context a statement he made saying that Russia was America’s main geopolitical foe. Mr. Romney corrected the misrepresentation saying that there was a difference between “geopolitical” and national security threats.

Beside the turmoil in the Middle East, China and Russia came under criticism from the candidates for their pattern of blocking American diplomatic moves.

Throughout the night it appeared the Romney camp had made a strategic decision to consistently connect America’s foreign policy under President Obama to the struggling situation of the economy at home, hoping that voters would ultimately conclude he was more fit to handle both.

“You can’t have kids coming out of college, half of whom can’t find a job today, or a job that’s commensurate with their college degree,” Mr. Romney declared.

Fix contributor Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

(Image by Jon Satch Satriale / Flickr)

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According to a CNN poll of registered voters, in Tuesday night’s debate Romney scored big wins on the economy (58-40%), taxes (51-44%), and the deficit (49-36%). In an election year in which the struggling economy is a leading issue of voter concern, those numbers are bad news for Mr. Obama.

The post-debate analysis and spin varied widely. Focus groups assembled by Fox News and MSNBC both declared Mr. Romney the victor. But CNN reported that Obama won the overall debate according to 46 % of likely voters watching, while Romney was the winner according to 39 %.

With the economy’s travails and the Obama administration’s response to the attack in Libya looming as major issues, the two presidential candidates squared off at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island for a highly contentious debate.

Before the debate, analysts and pundits on both sides of the ideological spectrum predicted that Mr. Obama would be more enthusiastic, in contrast to his previous lethargic performance, and that he would nevertheless have to remain calm and polite. What actually took place was a feisty battle that contradicted the long held idea that it was difficult for candidates to go on the offensive in a town hall-style debate.

Mr. Romney and Mr.Obama vigorously attacked each other’s records, future plans, and character. At times they invaded each other’s personal space looking as though at any moment they could start a wrestling match.

Mr. Obama clearly was able to summon the level of passion that he lacked in the previous debate. In his first question to answer he attacked Mr. Romney and never ceased for the remainder of the night.

Yet on question related to the economy, Mr. Romney scored the most blows. In the first question, directed to Mr. Romney, a college student asked how he would help fellow college students secure jobs. Mr. Romney answered saying that he was in favor of increasing Pell Grants and touted his record of achievement in education in Massachusetts as proof that he could faithfully represent college students in a tough economy. He argued that a better economy would naturally be beneficial for college students.

Mr. Obama used his turn to attack Mr. Romney for his support of allowing General Motors to enter bankruptcy, while he largely ignored the question of how he would help college graduates get jobs.

In a segment of the debate that crystallized the debate’s tone and overall substance, both presidential candidates lambasted each other on the contentious issue of Libya. Mr. Obama called the GOP assertion of a cover-up “offensive.” However, the president failed to answer the actual question, and did not say why requests for additional security at the Benghazi consulate were denied in the months leading up to the attack.

Romney missed an opportunity to attack Obama on his failure to provide adequate security in Benghazi, and instead got caught up on the issue of whether Obama had called it a “terrorist” attack or not. After the debate, moderator Candy Crowley said that although the point Mr. Obama made about his statements the day after the attack was, narrowly, correct, Mr. Romney was correct on the larger issue of how long it took the Obama administration to mount a forthright, coherent response.

Staging was awkward at times for both men, as Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney closed in on each other in a battle about coal and energy. The fact that these two men have an uncanny ability to get under each others skins was obvious to viewers. Greta Van Susteren, of Fox News, said in a tweet that the “spat… felt uncomfortable to watch.”

Mr. Obama, often angrily, attempted to eviscerate the Romney plan on growing the economy. He bolstered his case by lamenting Mr. Romney’s lack of specifics on exactly what “loopholes and deductions” he would deal with. However, he did not mention his own lack of specifics. And polls indicate that he failed to convince viewers that, after four years of trying, he has a viable plan to turn the economy around.

Fix contributor Michael Sorge is a student at Purchase College, State University of New York.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook.