Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16, 2012

Report: Boehner Agrees to Tax Hikes for Entitlement Cuts
by the Associated Press
December 15, 2012

Signaling new movement in "fiscal cliff" talks, House Speaker John Boehner has proposed raising the top rate for earners making more than $1 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said.

President Barack Obama, who wants higher top rates for households earning more than $250,000, has not accepted the offer, this person said.

The proposal, however, indicated progress in talks that had appeared stalled. The person would only discuss the plan on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

As part of a broader budget deal, Boehner is still seeking more spending cuts than Obama has proposed, particularly in mandatory health care spending. Boehner has asked for a long-term increase in eligibility age for Medicare and for lower costs-of-living adjustments for Social Security.

Boehner's tax proposal was first reported by Politico.

A Boehner aide would not comment on the report.

At issue are expiring tax rates that would automatically increase on Jan. 1 for virtually every income tax payer if Congress and the president don't act. Steep budget cuts are also scheduled to kick in, unless Congress and Obama agree to forestall them with other deficit reduction measures.

Obama has insisted on extending current rates for the 98 percent of taxpayers in household that earn less than $250,000. He would let the top two marginal rates increase from 33 percent to 35 percent and from 36 percent to 39.6 percent for those taxpayers making over that threshold.

Until now, Boehner had maintained his opposition to raising any rates. Instead, he had proposed to raise up to $800 billion in tax revenue over 10 years by limiting tax loopholes and deductions as part of a broad tax overhaul.

But the speaker and House Republicans have come under increasing pressure form a number of Senate Republicans who say they should yield to Obama's demand on tax rates and then press him for additional cuts early next year in exchange for an increase in the nation's borrowing limit.

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Hillary Clinton Concussed: Won't Testify on Benghazi
by Tony Lee
December 15, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fainted due to a stomach virus that left her dehydrated and suffered a concussion in the fall last week, the State Department revealed on Saturday.

As a result, Clinton is not expected to testify next Thursday at the congressional hearings on the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

State Department spokesperson Phillipe Reines said Clinton "became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion" while suffering from a stomach virus that caused her to also miss a scheduled trip to Mexico last week.

"She has been recovering at home and will continue to be monitored regularly by her doctors," Reines said.

Reines added that at the recommendation of Clinton's doctors, "she will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with Department and other officials." He claimed she "is looking forward to being back in the office soon."

Congress will hold hearings on Benghazi next week, and Clinton had been scheduled to testify. She took "responsibility" for many of the security failures leading up to the attack.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, after withdrawing her name for consideration to be the next Secretary of State on Thursday, said that Clinton had initially been asked to go on the Sunday shows immediately after the attacks. Rice claimed she took Hillary's place because Clinton was too worn down from her travels to do the interviews.

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Grieving Father Memorializes Daughter…Has Kind Words for CT Killer’s Family
by Erica Ritz
December 15, 2012

Fighting back tears and struggling to catch his breath, the father of a 6-year-old gunned down in Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut told the world about a bright little girl who loved to draw and was always smiling– reserving surprising words of sympathy for the gunman’s family.

Robbie Parker’s daughter Emilie was among the 20 children who died in the one of the worst schoolyard attacks in U.S. history. He was one of the first parents to speak publicly about their loss.

“She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling,” he said.

Parker spoke to reporters not long after police released the names and ages of the victims on Saturday, a simple document that told a horrifying story of loss.

He expressed no animosity or anger, offering only prayers for the family of the man who killed 26 people and himself.

Robert Parker Memorializes 6 Year Old Daughter Emilie Killed in Connecticut School Shootings
Robert and Alissa Parker leave the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire House in tears after a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Friday morning, Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. (Photo: AP)
Parker remarked, struggling with every phrase, on Saturday:
It’s a horrific tragedy, and we want everybody to know that our hearts and our prayers go out to them– this includes the family of the shooter.  I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family, and our love and our support goes out to you as well. 
As the deep pain begins to settle into our hearts, we find comfort reflecting on the incredible person that Emilie was, and how many lives she was able to touch in her short time here on earth. 
Emilie was bright, creative, and very loving.  Emilie was always willing to try new things– other than food.  She loved to use her talents to touch the lives of everyone she came into contact with.  She was an exceptional artist, and she always carried around her markers and pencils so that she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those around her. 
I can’t count the number of times Emilie noticed someone feeling sad or frustrated, and would rush to find a piece of paper to draw them a picture, or to write them an encouraging note.  ​[Emphasis added]
Parker proceeded to discuss what a remarkable mentor Emilie was to her two little sisters, ages 3 and 4, and how she loved teaching them how to “read, dance, and find the simple joys in life.”

“Emily’s laughter was infectious, and all those who had the pleasure to meet her would agree that this world is a better place because she has been in it,” he said of his daughter.

Parker concluded by saying we cannot let tragedies define us.

Struggling to maintain his voice, he urged:
“Let it [be] something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and humble people.  Let us please keep the sentiments of love that we feel for our families, and the compassion that we feel for others– even complete strangers– and keep them with us at all times, not just in times of sorrow and tragedy.  And may we do this so that we can better all of our communities, and all of our cities and all our states, so we can make everyone, everywhere in this country feel safe.”
Watch Parker’s complete remarks, via CNN, below:

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