We all hear about the fiscal cliff, but do we really understand what it means to our economy? It is a difficult concept to understand; even our government has a hard time interpreting it. This is the “fiscal cliff” in a nutshell.
In August of 2011, the Budget Control Act was signed into law. This law allowed for three things. It allowed President Obama to immediately increase the debt ceiling, it created the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and it forced Congress to vote and agree on a balanced budget amendment. On December 31, 2012 all tax cuts enacted since 2001 expired and there was to be a major reduction in government spending.
With all this pressure, Congress was trying to come up with an improved balanced budget, which would help reduce our country’s budget deficit and debt. If Congress did not make an agreement by the New Year, the “fiscal cliff,” which would have been the outcome of the Budget Control Act of 2011, would take effect. If this law were to take effect, on Jan. 1, 2013, the United States would have experienced a dramatic change in the economy. Our government would have had to cut funding to many programs and businesses, meaning the loss of many jobs.
To avoid the fiscal cliff, U.S. lawmakers needed to come up with a budget plan that would avoid a major economic hit. If they combined tax cuts and reduced spending, there was a possibility of our country going bankrupt. Coming up with a plan was difficult for both parties because they have very different economic ideologies, resulting in very different approaches to solving this problem. Republicans want to cut spending to avoid raising taxes, while Democrats are looking for a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
Fortunately, the House of Representatives signed off on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, thus averting a potential mess. Basically, we dodged a huge economic bullet.
Wednesday night, President Obama outlined his plan for ending the Afghanistan war in a speech delivered from the East room of the White House. Obama announced that troops would begin returning home in July, as promised in a previous address. By the end of this year, 10,000 troops will return, and a total of 33,000 troops will be removed by next summer, recovering the troop increase that Obama announced in December of 2009.
Obama began his speech by referring to the September 11 attacks, reminding the American people why the war was started. He said that the U.S. has weakened the Taliban and al Qaeda, especially with the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden. Obama emphasized that the purpose of America’s involvement in Afghanistan is to ensure that Afghanistan is not a “safe haven” for al Qaeda or its other terrorist organizations. He said that he does not aim to create a perfect Afghanistan, but to train its government to protect its people. The U.S. has been achieving these goals, he said, making the removal of troops possible.
The president’s speech also broadened to say that the war in Afghanistan has posed questions about the nature of America’s involvement in global affairs, especially as we face a multitude of domestic problems. Obama said that the U.S. must take a middle route between the extremes of being isolated from the rest of the world and confronting every single global issue.
“We must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute,” said Obama.
Obama said that now the U.S. must focus on its own domestic issues including economic strife, job loss, infrastructure problems and a need for renewable energy.
“Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story,” Obama said.
After the enormous costs of the war—more than 1,500 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan with thousands more wounded physically and psychologically, and billions of dollars have been spent—it is definitely time to bring this war to an end. These costs have been felt throughout the country. Lace Cpl. Jeremy Kane (’06), a graduate of East, was killed while on duty in Afghanistan, bringing the harsh realities of this war close to home. Obama’s plan seems prudent; hopefully, it will prove successful.
Visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/22/president-obama-way-forward-afghanistan to watch the Obama’s speech and http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20073525-503544.html to read the transcript.
November 4, 2008 was a day that made its mark on history, for the nation elected its first African-American President. People of all ethnicities and ages rejoiced as soon as it was projected at 11 p.m. that Barack Obama would win California’s 55 electoral votes. The final electoral count was 364 for Obama, and 163 for McCain. Obama also won the popular vote 53 percent to 46 percent. I myself cried, for America electing this man has shown the world that we need to move in a new direction-and President-elect Obama is ready to lead us. John McCain’s speech was also inspiring and complimented his service to this country, more so than any other individual.However, now that Obama has been elected, he has large shoes to fill, not in terms of his predecessor but of the whole world’s expectations, especially those of the American people. His job within the next 70 days (until Inauguration day) is to make the transition into the White House, and the position itself. Among this transition contains decisions, such as who his Chief of Staff should be, where his daughters (Malia, 5th grade, and Sasha, 2nd grade) should attend school and what his main agenda will actually include. Now is the pivotal moment in Obama’s transition, and all eyes are watching him.
President-elect Obama has chosen Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff. Emanuel, D-IL, is ranked as the fourth highest member of the Democratic leadership in the House, for he was appointed Democratic Caucus Chair; he has served in Congress since 2003. He is of Israeli descent, and actually carpooled with my father to religious school at the shul. Rahm Emanuel has also had a passion for ballet dancing since youth. Survey says: good choice, Obama! Emanuel will be a true asset to President-elect Obama, in both his heritage and his career experience.
President Bush and First Lady Bush welcomed Michelle and Barack to the White House yesterday. As the President and President-elect roamed the grounds, took a tour of the Oval Office and discussed the path of the nation, the First Lady and First Lady-elect discussed the lifestyle and conditions facing the Obama family. The main topic of discussion lately has been where to educate the Obama children, Malia (5th grade) and Sasha (2nd grade). There are pros and cons for the girls to be educated in either the District of Columbia public schools or in private schools in the area. While the Clintons chose to send Chelsea, age 12 at the time, to the Sidwell Friends School, a private Quaker school, the Carters chose to send Amy to public schools. If the Obamas decide to send Malia and Sasha to public school, they will be keeping the image of everyday Americans by sending the message that public schooling is good enough for their children. If the Obamas decide to send the girls to private school, where tuition is around $30,000 a year, these parents will be investing in their education at the expense of convincing America that public schools are acceptable. As for Malia and Sasha, they will have to be followed by security everywhere no matter where they attend; if they were enrolled in a private school, this would be potentially more common than in a public school.
As far as President Bush’s relationship with President-elect Obama, their relationship has been quite friendly, although it seemed that Obama was running against Bush in this election according to rhetoric. Some may call Obama being hypocritical for being chummy with Bush, but it’s a matter of respect. They are both extremely patriotic men and contrary to prior belief, have the country’s best interests in their hearts of heart. Disrespecting George Bush by not meeting with him and being friendly would be extremely detrimental to both Obama and the nation, for a smooth transition is essential for Obama, since he intends to implement a great deal of what he promised on the campaign trail.
Obama’s transition has been going smoothly thus far, and the next 70 days will be productive. Tickets to Inauguration Day are being distributed by congressmen according to districts. If you are interested in attending, contact your local congressman and explain to him or her why you deserve admission to one of the most important events in our nation’s history. Hopefully I will be among them, and if I am, I will be certain to tell you all about it.
Out of 682 students who voted in today’s mock presidential election, 78 percent of students (532 students) voted for Obama while 22 percent (150 students) voted for McCain.