Opinion

David Rohde

Will the fiscal cliff raise taxes on the middle class?

David Rohde
Nov 29, 2012 21:46 UTC

With rising Democratic opposition to cuts in social spending and Republican leaders reiterating their opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy, talks on avoiding the fiscal cliff were at a standstill Thursday.

Officials on both sides of the debate say the political jockeying is likely to continue this week. But they warn that the details of a compromise must emerge next week if an agreement is to be reached in time.

Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction task force, said on Wednesday that he was skeptical that a deal would be reached. Bowles put the chances of an agreement before the end of the year at roughly one in three.

“I believe the problem is that we are going over the fiscal cliff,” Bowles told The New York Times, “and I think that will be horrible.”

Bowles is right. While potential tax increases on the rich have dominated the political debate, a raft of taxes on the middle class will increase if an agreement is not reached. The scope will vary, depending on a person’s income. White House officials estimate that the average American family will pay $2,200 more in taxes next year if an agreement is not reached. But, if an agreement is not reached at all, even after the January 1 deadline, the increase could be higher, particularly for households that make over $100,000 a year. Here’s why:

Mursi’s folly

David Rohde
Nov 23, 2012 23:38 UTC

After helping end the fighting in Gaza, impressing President Barack Obama and negotiating a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has fallen victim to what Bill Clinton calls “brass.”

Mursi’s hubristic post-Gaza power grab on Thursday was politically tone deaf, strategic folly and classic over-reach. It will deepen Egypt’s political polarization, scare off desperately needed foreign investment and squander Egypt’s rising credibility in the region and the world.

Television images of renewed clashes in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez will play into stereotypes that the Middle East is not ready for democracy. They will bolster suspicions inside and outside Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be trusted.

After the ceasefire

David Rohde
Nov 22, 2012 01:01 UTC

For now, the fighting has stopped in Israel and Gaza. But let’s be honest, this is the latest round in a long and bitter struggle. In the future, more bloodshed is likely.

After eight days of clashes, Hamas’ claim that it is the true leader of the Palestinian resistance has gained strength. Long-range rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have made Israelis increasingly wary of a two-state solution. And the deaths of 140 Palestinians, one-third of them combatants, compared to five Israelis, one of them a soldier, will be seen across the Middle East as U.S.-abetted Israeli aggression.

Don’t expect those dynamics to improve anytime soon. In the months ahead, Hamas’ popularity among Palestinians is likely to rise. The more moderate Fatah faction of Mahmoud Abbas will be seen as increasingly impotent. And Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s conservative government will likely fare well in January’s parliamentary elections. As so often happens in conflicts, one side’s right wing abets the other’s.

A hidden cause of Benghazi tragedy

David Rohde
Nov 16, 2012 20:22 UTC

Amid the politicking, there’s an overlooked cause of the Benghazi tragedy

For conservatives, the Benghazi scandal is a Watergate-like presidential cover-up. For liberals, it a fabricated Republican witch-hunt. For me, Benghazi is a call to act on an enduring problem that both parties ignore.

One major overlooked cause of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans is we have underfunded the State Department and other civilian agencies that play a vital role in our national security. Instead of building up cadres of skilled diplomatic security guards, we have bought them from the lowest bidder, trying to acquire capacity and expertise on the cheap. Benghazi showed how vulnerable that makes us.

Now, I’m not arguing that this use of contractors was the sole cause of the Benghazi tragedy, but I believe it was a primary one. Let me explain.

Jeb, Saxby and Chris: Save your party – and us

David Rohde
Nov 7, 2012 22:25 UTC

Within hours of President Obama winning re-election, two faces of the Republican Party emerged. One impressed me enormously. The other deeply troubled me. Liberals, meanwhile, rejoiced at having averted what they saw as a national calamity.

The time, though, is not for gloating. It is for supporting the Republicans who can rein in their party’s far right and help us all. For me, Fox News, of all places, was a hopeful sign.

While Karl Rove questioned whether Obama had, in fact, won Ohio, Juan Williams and Brit Hume courageously admitted the party had lost touch with a changing nation. They embraced exit polls showing that the surge in Latino, black, female and young voters that aided Obama in 2008 was a permanent demographic change, not a one-time event.

Voters: Fire our partisan, failed Congress

David Rohde
Nov 5, 2012 20:08 UTC

Whoever wins the presidency, his ability to address our country’s daunting problems depends on a functioning Congress. And by multiple measures, our current Congress is one of the most partisan, deadlocked and unpopular in American history.

A surge in state legislatures’ politically-driven redrawing of congressional districts has created a Congress that is more partisan than the American electorate, according to a study by the non-partisan Center for Voting and Democracy. And I believe that the dominance of blatantly partisan news coverage – led by Fox and MSNBC – has poisoned the broader dynamics that affect the U.S. Senate.

Moderate senators are vanishing from the American political landscape, according to the Washington-based National Journal magazine. In 1982, there were 60 seats for moderate senators. In 1994, the number shrunk to 36. In 2002, there were nine. And in the current Senate, zero.

Response to Sandy holds election’s key

David Rohde
Nov 2, 2012 13:21 UTC

Jacqueline Pattison is giving Mayor Mike Bloomberg one more day. So far, she has been impressed by New York City’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Along with millions of other New Yorkers, she is patiently enduring the lack of electricity, tortuous commute and a deep sense of uncertainty.

But if electricity does not return to her apartment a few blocks north of the World Trade Center soon, she will have lost faith in her government.

“I think by Friday we should have power at the latest,” the 51-year-old co-owner of a small moving business said. “We live on the 28th floor.”

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