The Anniston Star on calamities ahead at the fiscal cliff:
Americans might be wondering if they are stuck in a Looney Toons cartoon. We technically went over the fiscal cliff at the start of 2013, but just like Daffy or the Road Runner, we’ve yet to begin our descent. We are in that part of the cartoon where the victim hovers in midair, quizzically looking around and waiting for the next calamity. ...
Our concern is that the so-called fiscal cliff we appear to have avoided is but one in a series of challenges. In other words, Americans may have crawled in midair back to safe ground ... but there’s an ACME safe headed straight for our collective heads.
It’s expected by March that Washington will commence a fresh set of brinksmanship. This time the argument will be over raising the debt ceiling. Republicans have signaled they will not raise the debt ceiling unless they extract massive spending cuts from the Obama administration. ... Playing around with the nation defaulting on its debt isn’t something Obama is apparently willing to discuss. ...
Democrats have voiced support for a stronger and smarter government. Their actions have often not matched their rhetoric. Yet, there’s little argument that a more reliable social safety net and investment in the nation’s economy are the keys to greater prosperity. ...
The Republican side says it is dedicated to drastically shrinking government. ... A closer inspection finds the cutting is highly specific for the GOP. Cuts to the Defense Department are generally off the table. Despite the bluster of the Tea Partiers, very few on the GOP side want to see Medicare or Social Security on the chopping block.
Montgomery Advertiser on recall election legislation:
Despite the claims of critics who decry them as political mischief makers, there’s nothing inherently wrong with recall elections. If an officeholder performs so poorly or so irresponsibly that a serious call for removal can be mounted, having a sound mechanism in place for doing that seems a prudent safeguard for the people of a state.
The key, of course, is in the details, in the structure of the recall process. That makes a measure pre-filed for the 2013 legislative session by Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, worth a serious look. ...
A recall provision has to be structured to require a demonstration of significant support for the action, otherwise it can become a vehicle for political mischief. It cannot be allowed to serve as a tool for trying to overturn an election for partisan purposes by sore losers. If any bunch of coffee shop cranks can get a recall vote on the ballot, it is a threat to democracy, not a protector of it.
Under Bedford’s bill, after an officeholder has served for a full year, a recall petition could be filed with the secretary of state by any voter for a statewide office or by a voter in the pertinent district for a district office. The petitioner would then have 90 days to gather signatures on the petition. He or she would have to secure signatures equaling 25 percent of the votes cast in the preceding election. ...
Bedford’s bill seems to address adequately the basic concerns of properly structured recall elections. At the very least, it is an excellent starting point for debate in this year’s session.