The Roots Help NBC’s Brian Williams Slow-Jam the Debt Ceiling

Apparently when Jimmy Fallon wants somebody to spice up an incredibly tired, tendentious story about fiscal crises in Washington, he turns to Brian Williams. It’s like a reverse jinx. (See: 2010, extension of the Bush tax cuts.) And when Brian Williams wants to take back the spotlight from his “Girls”-starring daughter Allison, he turns to the Roots. Below, way down there on this blog post, baby, Brian Williams slow-jams the debt ceiling. [Huffington Post]

PA Delegation Plays Nice as Fiscal Cliff is (Semi) Averted

A day after we careened over the looming cliff (what, you didn’t feel it?), the frisky and mischievous House of Representatives finally approved the Senate bill to raise taxes on individuals earning over $400,000 and families earning more than $45o,000, though Republicans voted NAY on the whole. Also: Long-term unemployment insurance was extended, the capital gains rate was raised, the payroll tax cut expired, and a likely hike in milk prices was staved off. Next up in Washington…the fiscal cliff! See, the deal also postponed a vote on automatic spending cuts to the military and various domestic programs, so look forward to that in two months. Keystone-side, things stayed nice and responsible. Every member of PA’s delegation voted for the deal, including Sen. Pat Toomey, who did an about-face on his beloved no-tax pledge. [CBS News]

Boehner’s Fiscal Cliff Plan Crashes and Burns

In a moment of high Capitol Hill drama last night,  John Boehner tried and failed to get the House of Representatives to pass his “Plan B” proposal, which would have raised tax rates on millionaires in exchange for entitlement cuts. The House GOP refused, embarrassing Boehner. Put another way, the House GOP signaled it would rather have tax rates rise on everyone, if and when we go over the fiscal cliff on January 1st, than solely on top earners. As if Boehner didn’t enough to worry about–like his reputation–there are now rumors that the House will try to replace him with someone more conservative. Now that the lower chamber has gone home for Christmas break, there are six days to strike a deal before automatic tax hikes and spending cuts kick in. [Washington Post]

Some pundits and journalists speculated that along with the plan, the entire GOP apparatus had crumbled.

City Hall Carolers Make Up Song About the Fiscal Cliff

A group of City Hall carolers have achieved something I thought impossible–they breathed a flicker of life into the most ill-named and over-covered political story of the year: The Fiscal Cliff negotiations. Ostensibly lobbying Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to raise taxes on the wealthy and avoid spending cuts to social services, the revelers overdubbed “Deck the Halls” with cheery lines like “Cuts for millionaires are a folly, fa la la la la la la la la” and “Treat the cap gains more like wages, fa la la la la la la la la.” Given the latest out of Washington, that Democrats are likely to accept a two-year raise in Medicare eligibility in exchange for tax increases, the group probably isn’t going to get any more joyous. [Newsworks]

The Fiscal Cliff’s Dire for LGBT Americans

Illustration by G Philly

We’ve been hearing predictions about the so-called fiscal cliff that threatens to turn much of the economy upside-down if the U.S. government doesn’t start agreeing on economics. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal employment discrimination laws, would see an automatic cut to its budget in 2013, and these cuts would continue through 2021 if no budget resolution is reached. This could have serious implications for LGBT workers, who already face extraordinarily high rates of discrimination on the job.

The Center for American Progress, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and a coalition of 23 other national LGBT organizations say that the sitiation could be problematic for the LGBT community in many other ways, as well. They released a report – Caught in the Budget Battle: How the ‘Fiscal Showdown’ Impacts Gay and Transgender Americans – detailing the sobering effects that sequestration could have on LGBT Americans when it comes to everything from employment and health to housing, higher education and overall safety.

“If Congress fails to strike a deal before the end of the year, all Americans will suffer, including those that are LGBT,” says Jeff Krehely, vice president of Center for American Progress’ LGBT Research and Communications Project. “Sequestration in particular would inflict significant harm by requiring wholesale cuts to programs that are critical to the health, wellness, and livelihood of LGBT people and their families. We cannot afford to let that happen.”

To put it bluntly, many federal programs, which both directly and indirectly function to support and serve the LGBT population, could be cut. Here’s what that means:

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