House Speaker John Boehner and Republican lawmakers initiallyblocked the extension of payroll tax relief for workers to thedelight of conservatives and Tea Party members. Republicanlawmakers said they would not support tax relief unless acontroversial gas pipeline unrelated to tax issues was approved byDemocrat lawmakers.In a last-minute deal, however, they backed off because ofpolitical pressure. Had that not happened, it would have meant thatRepresentative Grimm and other GOP hardliners sunk the bipartisanbill to extend the relief, meaning the Tea Party would have beenable to claim credit for an income tax increase in 2012! Thebrinkmanship of Washington politics nearly hurt the American peopleagain.The failure of the Congressional super committee to act will causeautomatic federal spending cuts which will hurt New York. Cutsamounting to $1.2 trillion over 10 years will begin Oct. 1, 2012and hospitals that receive Medicare funding will be potentiallydevastated.The Bloomberg administration has not forecast the effect of thecuts. This lack of response is no big surprise to the weary public.City Hall fixed the teacher rubber-room problem, in part, bycreating new policies for substitute teachers and teachers withouta regular assignment. Now, ATRs are assigned weekly to a schooland shuffled from school to school around the city from the AbsentTeacher Reserve pool. Students get teachers without familiarity oraccountability, who will be gone in five days. Does this reallyhelp the schools or the students?**There are positive things to consider toward the end of the year.Coach, Inc. agreed to become the first anchor business for the hugecommercial project at Hudson Yards. The number of people filing forfirst time unemployment benefit claims has steadily decreased inthe past months.Governor Cuomo pushed through taxi reform in New York City. Twothousand new yellow taxi medallions will be sold. All must be forwheelchair-accessible vehicles. Six thousand street-hail liverymedallions will be sold as well, and 1,200 will be wheelchairaccessible.This amazing victory for Governor Cuomo also promises $1 billiondollars in fees for the city, as well as the promise of increasedservice for the under-served. Advocates for people withdisabilities scored a significant victory while the state providedfor its people.**We witnessed the final chapter for disgraced State Senator CarlKruger. He pleaded guilty to bribery charges in federal court. As amember of the four amigos, he held the state legislature hostage byoffering allegiance to the highest bidder in order to get morepower in Albany.The Democrat amigos offered the GOP a chance to regain themajority by promising to switch party enrollment. If the New YorkGOP told them no, the appropriate response, then it would havenullified the threat of these extortionists.We need our representatives, state and federal, to striveconstantly to do the right thing all the time. The only thingneeded for the triumph of evil over good is for good people to donothing. Our governor is transforming Albany by working withSheldon Silver and Dean Skelos and union leaders with enoughbipartisan support actually to get things done. Merry Christmas,Happy Hanukkah and a blessed New Year to all.
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