Sen. Kent Conrad has chaired the Senate Budget Committee since 2006. The Democratic senator from North Dakota is retiring in January 2013, but before leaving the Senate, he is a key player in the negotiations to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff." Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin speaks with Sen. Conrad about the challenges to achieving a budget compromise.
It's widely known as the fiscal cliff, but some prominent Republicans have been calling it a "debt crisis." Economists agree such a crisis may be coming, but it's not here yet. Demographic changes are forcing a reckoning of how to pay for what people want from their government.
Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 2:53 pm
The expiration of Bush-era tax cuts. A patch to the alternative minimum tax. An increase in capital gains taxes.
As the "fiscal cliff" approaches, all of these are possible, but none certain. That uncertainty solicits many questions from anxious taxpayers. But, for accountants and financial planners, there are a few definitive answers.
Financial professionals who spoke with NPR say they are not strangers to uncertainty. When the Bush tax cuts were up for expiration two years ago, for instance, the feeling was similar.
There's an event held every year in Washington known as the Saban Forum — named for Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul who funds it. It's a night of elbow-rubbing between D.C. and Middle East political leadership, though foreign dignitaries are mostly Israeli.
With all the attention on tax rates and spending cuts, three big issues are getting little attention in fiscal cliff talks. NPR's Tamara Keith explains how expiring provisions on the payroll tax cut, the alternative minimum tax and unemployment benefits could have major effects on the economy.
Not long ago, it seemed to many observers that the House of Representatives was a case of the tail wagging the dog, with Speaker John Boehner unable to keep in line many of his fellow Republicans, especially freshmen who came to Congress riding the 2010 Tea Party wave.
Now, however, the big dog seems back in control.
Some of the signs are subtle, some not. But as he faces off with President Obama during fiscal cliff negotiations, Boehner enjoys a stronger position with House Republicans than he had during earlier showdowns with the White House.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announces he will leave Washington in the new year. While NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving wonder if this will enhance DeMint's already-estimable influence in Republican circles, it also opens up the possibility of the appointment of an African-American GOP senator — only the second one since Reconstruction. Plus: Does Ashley Judd have a shot against Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky?
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that for the first time it will tackle the issue of same-sex marriage. Defying most expectations, the justices said they will examine two cases, presenting the possibility that the court could decide all the basic issues surrounding same-sex marriage in one fell swoop.