Our welcome back to work and the new year includes congratulations to our new reporter on Grant Street -- Moriah Balingit, who starts her new beat in City Hall today. Hopefully we'll be reading stuff from Moriah here at Early Returns through the year.
Speaking of, Jim O'Toole sketched out what to watch on Grant Street and elsewhere through 2013. One thing not to watch is the threatened spike in milk prices left by the undone farm bill. Yesterday's House approval of the fiscal bill (following that late Monday in the Senate) extends federal milk subsidies through September.
Here's reaction from two local Republicans on yesterday's vote, starting with Tim Murphy of Upper St. Clair:
"The process and product are imperfect, but what has been achieved can't be overlooked. We've overcome the impasse to permanently lock in lower tax rates for 99 percent of taxpayers," said Congressman Tim Murphy."Tonight's vote opens the door for work to begin in the next session of Congress on significant cuts in federal spending, meaningful tax reform, and pro-growth policies to get our country back on solid fiscal footing."
And Mike Kelly of Butler:
"This evening I voted to make permanent tax rates that conservatives crafted years ago for more than 99.3% of Americans, including a permanent patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and to keep many good items in the tax code like the child tax credit. We are finally providing some certainty to the economy with regards to taxes which is why, in the end, I voted affirmatively for the agreement. I acknowledge that this bill is far from perfect. That being said, our attention must immediately turn to doing the real spending and tax reform that needs to be done to restore the fiscal health of this country. In the days and weeks to come, I am confident the House will aggressively pursue the long needed spending reform that our constituents rightfully expect and demand."
In case you missed it, Murphy takes a beating in today's Letters to the Editor for his op-ed on mental disorders being at the heart of mass murders like that in Newtown, Conn. Murphy is a former clinical child psychologist.