Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. political landscape changed little with Tuesday’s election, and now both Democrats and Republicans will be tested by the immediate need for moderation if they are to avoid the feared “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts that could send the country into a recession.
The Republican Party is entering a period of introspection after failing to block President Barack Obama from a second White House term, even after a period of the worst financial pain for middle-class Americans since the Great Depression of the 1930.
The election was evidence that the majority of voters are no longer willing to accept the leadership of a Republican Party that has been pushed to the far right of the political spectrum by its small-government, low-tax tea party faction.
But Obama and his Democrats also must be ready for compromise, with Americans yearning to see an end to the deep partisan divide and legislative gridlock that has gripped Washington in recent years.
Obama adviser David Axelrod warned Republican leaders to take lessons from Tuesday’s vote. The president won after pledging to raise taxes on American households earning more than $250,000 a year “and was re-elected in a significant way,” Axelrod told MSNBC Thursday morning.
“Hopefully people will read those results and read them as a vote for cooperation and will come to the table,” Axelrod said. “And obviously everyone’s going to have to come with an open mind to these discussions. But if the attitude that nothing happened on Tuesday, that would be unfortunate.”
He pointed out that conservative Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdoch in Indiana dismissed the value of compromise and instead said Democrats should join the GOP. “And I note that he’s not on his way to the United States Senate,” Axelrod said. Mourdock lost to Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.
Obama was quiet Wednesday but returned to the White House from Chicago, where he held his victory celebration. He spoke by phone with the four top leaders of the House and Senate to talk about the lame-duck Congress that convenes just one week after Election Day. Little major action is expected.
Obama told the congressional leaders he believed “the American people sent a message in yesterday’s election that leaders in both parties need to put aside their partisan interests and work with common purpose to put the interests of the American people and the American economy first,” the White House said in a statement.
The immediate challenge for both parties is the “fiscal cliff” of across-the-board spending cuts and the end of Bush-era tax cuts that would hit at the beginning of 2013 and cost $800 billion in that year alone. That could upend the slow economic recovery from the Great Recession and the near meltdown of the financial system that Obama was left to repair when he took office four years ago.
On the day after the election, Republicans signaled little readiness to give up their ideological opposition to raising taxes on high-income Americans, as Obama has insisted.
Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner said Republicans are willing to consider some form of higher tax revenue as part of the solution — but only “under the right conditions.”
Republicans continue to push for lower rates across the board. That theory, known as trickle-down economics and dating to the era of President Ronald Reagan, holds that cutting taxes will vastly increase the size of the income and profit pie, thereby producing more government revenue even at lower tax rates.
Boehner expressed that position yet again as the condition for working for any increase in government revenue in return for Obama’s stated — but undefined — willingness to cut spending on crucial social programs.
Republicans still control of the House, leaving Boehner able to block legislation from Obama’s White House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
There appears no quick solution ahead to the country’s skyrocketing debt and stubbornly high deficit that has the government now spending more than $1 trillion a year more than it collects in taxes.
Wall Street has one of its worst days of the year Wednesday as traders worried about the “fiscal cliff” and worsening news on the recession In Europe.
Obama’s victory and exit polling of voters showed a majority of Americans supported, or were resigned to, higher taxes to begin cutting the national debt, even as unemployment remains slightly below 8 percent.
Republicans could still moderate as they face the reality of the country’s slow shift from a white majority to a day when minorities — blacks, Hispanics and Asians — become the majority. Obama’s second-term victory was sealed by massive minority support.
Vice President Joe Biden, flying home from Chicago, told reporters that he predicted the “fever will break” on past legislative gridlock after some soul-searching by Republicans.
Associated Press writer Nancy Benac contributed.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.