Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"You see again this huge divide between the richest Americans and the poorest Americans… and you sit there going, you know what, these people that live in these mansions and have private jets and live an extraordinary life like few Americans live — they can probably deal with a 20 percent tax rate on capital gains instead of 15 percent. Why are we fighting and risking our majorities protecting billionaires that are hedge fund guys who are paying 14 percent tax rates? … There’s something immoral about these people paying fourteen, fifteen, sixteen percent of their taxes because the tax rates are the way they are while small business owners who make $250,000 a year in Manhattan and may employ four people are paying a 35% tax rate." - Joe Scarborough 

"Wealthy Americans have done very well in the last dozen years with the tax policies of the Bush administration. It’s clear we have huge deficits. It’s time for compromise and for us on the wealthy side to pay higher taxes in exchange for lower cuts in government spending… Republicans seem dead set against raising taxes on wealthy people and that’s just ridiculous. All the Republicans have signed this pledge not to raise taxes and (Norquist’s) made it clear that if they vote to raise taxes he’s going to take action to defeat them in an election in two years. No one elected Grover Norquist… If we have to pay higher taxes so be it, as long as it’s tied into reforms on Medicare, Social Security and other cuts. It’s time that Americans come together and we all sacrifice."

Jeff Gural, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Chairman, told CNBC’s "Squawk on the Street" on Monday.

The U.S. spent more on defense in 2011 than did the countries with the next 13 highest defense budgets combined
Peter G Peterson Foundation

The U.S. spent more on defense in 2011 than did the countries with the next 13 highest defense budgets combined

Peter G Peterson Foundation

"It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. It really won’t, I don’t think. I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer…Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile?"

— Conservative commentator and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said on Fox News Sunday.

"The billionaire donors I hear are livid. There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do … I don’t know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing." - one Republican operative told The Huffington Post
 
"The result was very heartening. You saw literally billions of dollars to try and not just unseat the President but to change the Congress, change the Senate and expand the Republican majority in the House. And as we sit here today the Senate is more Democratic, there are more Democrats in the House and if I were one of those billionaires who were funding Crossroads or one of those other organizations I’d be wanting to talk to someone and asking where by refund is because they didn’t get much for their money." - David Axelrod, Senior Obama adviser 

"The billionaire donors I hear are livid. There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do … I don’t know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing." - one Republican operative told The Huffington Post

 

"The result was very heartening. You saw literally billions of dollars to try and not just unseat the President but to change the Congress, change the Senate and expand the Republican majority in the House. And as we sit here today the Senate is more Democratic, there are more Democrats in the House and if I were one of those billionaires who were funding Crossroads or one of those other organizations I’d be wanting to talk to someone and asking where by refund is because they didn’t get much for their money." - David Axelrod, Senior Obama adviser 



WASHINGTON—Following the president’s reelection Tuesday, top Republicans Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor expressed relief, saying the primary purpose of their lives—to stymie, irritate, and confound President Obama at every turn—had not been taken away from them. “Had Barack Obama lost his occupation, then we too would have lost ours,” said Sen. McConnell (R-KY), calling an existence in which he doesn’t wake up every morning and figure out ways to systematically block the president’s agenda an empty one. “Tomorrow, I will go to the Capitol building and immediately say that Republicans are unable to work with the president if he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy. That’s a life worth living. That’s a life where I feel like I’m actually contributing something to society.” Cantor and Boehner said they were thankful not to have ended up like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who committed suicide after the first presidential debate, when it appeared as if Mitt Romney might win the election. 

From The Onion 

With the presidential race in its final weeks, many voters are focused on the U.S. debt load and how it should be cut.

From Barron’s 

What’s the single best thing Washington can do to close the budget deficit?

Dan Fuss

Vice chairman and fixed-income manager, Loomis Sayles 
"They have to do their job. To do that, they have to meet in the middle. In order to be able to deal, you have to be willing to compromise. The two-party system clearly doesn’t seem to be working. Entrenched views on the right and…on the left won’t work."

Laurence Fink

CEO, BlackRock 
"Decisions are being deferred, delayed, and scrapped. If the fiscal cliff and grand bargain are not worked on and finalized early, you could see behavior from consumers, investors, and companies that would put the economy pretty close to a recession in the first quarter of next year."

Jason DeSena Trennert

Managing partner, Strategas Research Partners 
"Our only choice is to grow our way out. Exploiting our own natural resources like shale gas and establishing a clear and sustainable tax and regulatory environment would go a long way to helping us do that."

"

The focus on Romney’s tax returns is on how much he pays. But look at the other side of the ledger: how much he makes. In 2011, Romney earned $14 million. But as Romney himself joked in 2011, he was unemployed that year. So he made $14 million without even having a job.

That money, of course, all came from investments. But Romney didn’t even manage those investments. Someone else took charge of the decisions. Romney basically made $14 million in 2011 — putting him way, way above the top 1 percent, which starts at around $350,000 a year — because Romney was very rich in 2010, too. That’s the nice thing bout being rich: It makes you richer.

Compare Romney to a single mother of two who works full-time at Wal-Mart, who takes the Earned Income Tax Credit and whose children get health insurance through Medicaid. Romney says she’s not taking personal responsibility. He says he couldn’t get her to take personal responsibility if he tried. And yet, Romney is someone who doesn’t even have to take personal responsibility for earning money anymore. He’s beyond all that.

Romney’s situation is wonderful. It’s the dream. And he worked to achieve it. I have no qualms about any of that. But his riches have come with a lack of empathy for what it’s like to be poor, or even just not-rich. He’s taken the fact that he’s rich as an indictment of the work ethic of people who aren’t. And he’s carried that belief into his policy proposals. His policy platform matches his comments: He won’t raise taxes on the rich, but he wants to cut Medicaid by over a trillion dollars in the next decade.

"

Ezra Klein in The Washington Post