From the President’s Office – 11/8/2012
It has certainly been an eventful two weeks for our country from Hurricane Sandy to the Presidential Election, and those of us here in Washington have been right in the thick of it.
From the extremely high winds and waves to the deluge of rain and snow, Hurricane Sandy brought extreme devastation to the east coast, most notably to New York and New Jersey. Our thoughts are with all those who were affected by the superstorm, and we sincerely hope you are receiving the assistance that you need to recover from this tremendously destructive disaster. The increasing frequency of huge and powerful storms like Sandy further demonstrates the importance of − and continued need for − investments in ocean science so we can better predict these types of devastating events in order to minimize the loss of life and property damage. This means more emphasis on delivering this message here in Washington which I can assure you, we intend to do.
Despite a tremendous amount of time, energy and six billion dollars, this election cycle resulted in basically a status quo – with the President winning a second term, Republicans maintaining control of the House and Democrats retaining control of the Senate. Congress gets back to work next week with a lame-duck session that will focus on the budget deficit and the fiscal cliff. It is unlikely that Congress and the President will be able to reach a grand bargain to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion to avoid budget sequestration before the end of the calendar year, but we can certainly hope. Maybe now that the election is over, there is a renewed interest in dealing with this most difficult situation. However, a more likely scenario is a short-term deal that includes a down payment on the deficit to avoid the fiscal cliff (aka budget sequestration and expiring tax cuts), and to give the next Congress time (six to 12 months) to reach a compromise, which likely will include tax reform.
There have also been a couple of indications of renewed interest in dealing with the climate change issue. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated that “climate change is an extremely important issue for me and I hope we can address it reasonably,” after noting that intense storms like Hurricane Sandy have created a more urgent need to act on global warming. There has also been some discussion that a carbon tax could be considered as it would address both the budget deficit and climate change. Stay tuned.
I can’t believe that the holiday season is right around the corner. Where did the year go? So, with so little time left in 2012, be sure and have a relaxing weekend wherever you are located.