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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.


2013 March 01

The term “Fiscal Cliff” was coined by Ben Bernake, chairman of the Federal Reserve, and used to describe the effects of the debt ceiling deal from 2011. Although it was a phrase widely used by politicians and members of the media alike, much was left unexplained about this so called “Fiscal Cliff” and how it relates to our most recent financial conundrum, “The Sequester.”

The “Fiscal Cliff” was a result of a  combination of deadlines from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (S 365) and the Temporary Extension of Tax Relief of 2010 (HR 4853). The BCA created a “Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction” which was tasked with establishing a plan to reduce the deficit and debt. If this committee could not agree on a workable plan to accomplish this, certain cuts would go into effect January 1, 2013.

In the week before the deadline, HR 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, was passed. This bill Extends the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 from December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2013 (which you can find in section 102 of the text). It also requires Congress to introduce a bill to provide for “comprehensive tax reform” no later than April 30, 2013, and requires this bill to be expedited through the House of Representatives and the Senate (found in section 203). You can read the full text and other highlights of the bill from Vote Smart here. And don't forget to check back- our full synopsis ...

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A Vote Smart Guide to the "Gang of Eight"

2013 February 28

Immigration: it's an issue that's been on the minds of a lot of prominent people involved in politics lately.

February Common Ground E-Newsletter

2013 February 27

Read this month's Common Ground E-Newsletter...

Primary in Illinois' 2nd District Special Election

2013 February 26

Six days after Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to the misuse of campaign funds, voters in his long-held district go the polls to begin the process of finding a replacement.

Johanns Wont Seek Re-election

2013 February 18

Mike Johanns, the republican senior senator from Nebraska, won't seek reelection in 2014.

Lautenberg Won't Seek Reelection

2013 February 14

New Jersey's senior senator, Frank R. Lautenberg decided today that he will not seek reelection.

State of the Union Fun!

2013 February 14

Article II, section 3 of the United States constitution lays is out clearly: “Every year the president shall give a really big speech the whole country will watch, half of them eagerly, half of them angrily.” Well, not exactly.

A Vote Smart Guide to the Assault Weapons Ban

2013 January 31

Recently, something called an “assault weapons ban” has been making major news.

Legislative Wrap-Up: Fracking

2013 January 28

With new technology comes new debates and in 2012 many state legislatures attempted to regulate a relatively new industry they did not know much about. 

Legislative Wrap-Up: Bullying in Schools

2013 January 25

Throughout the past decade there has been a national trend of legislation on bullying.

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