Posts Tagged With: Bush tax cuts

DELUSION AND DYSFUNCTION

The thing to realize about the American psyche, as we begin 2013, is that once a benefit has been delivered to the populace, it’s extremely difficult to retract that benefit. Perhaps this is true for all the world’s populations, but it seems especially true in the U.S. And the fear of losing that delivered benefit, will cause the masses to react in great anger and frustration, which then will result in highly dysfunctional and injurious behavior. It’s a provable fact that actions taken out of fear, anger, or paranoia will inevitably result in some very bad decisions. And so it is with the never ending, and forever ongoing charade known as the fiscal cliff. As it stands at the time I’m writing this piece, the Senate has passed the legislation to get us off the fiscal cliff; but now the House is posturing about how bad a deal it is, and many members have threatened to vote no on the Senate bill, which means we will go over the cliff. My guess is that the House will screw around with this today and tomorrow, and then, protesting the entire time, will wind up passing the Senate bill just as the clock is running out.

The main feature of the fiscal cliff that has so many people anxious, is the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which will cause all tax payers to fork over more of their income to the government. This is the part now, where taking away a benefit, once delivered, becomes nearly impossible. If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, tax rates would revert back to where during the 8 Clinton years in the 1990s. At that point in time, tax rates had been significantly reduced during the Reagan years in the 1980s. It’s true that after Bill Clinton became President in 1993, he did managed to squeeze through a small increase in the rates Ronald Reagan managed to get Congress to lower. But even with that increase, tax rates were considerably lower than they had been in all the time since World War II. At one point during and after the war, the top marginal tax rate was 91%, versus the 35% that exists today. Also, if Al Gore had been allowed to take the Presidency that he won in 2000 (don’t get me started on that one), there never would have been the Bush tax cuts, and all of us would still be paying the same amount of taxes that were in force since early in Bill Clinton’s presidency. Rates that everybody became used to, and were generally not a big deal. But people did get the benefit for about the last 10 years of keeping more of their income; and I’ve said, a benefit once given, is nearly impossible to retract.

Now here’s where the fun part, i.e., delusion and dysfunction kicks in. Everyone knows that we, as a country, are producing mind-boggling budget deficits every year, well north of a trillion dollars annually. Nearly everyone agrees that those deficits are unsustainable, and they need to significantly shrink. The common sense approach toward reducing deficits would seem to be in cutting spending and increasing revenue.  On increasing the revenue side, Obama and the Democrats have a modest proposal to increase the marginal tax rate by 4.6% on couples earning more than $250,000 a year, which constitute about 2% of the richest people out of our 310 million population. (You can do the math as to how many people would be affected.) However, tea party Republicans acted as if they were stricken with rabies, by frothing at the mouth at the thought of raising anybody’s taxes, including the rich and super-rich. The bill just passed by the Senate supposedly represents a compromise whereby the 4.6% marginal increase would apply to couples making $450,000 annually, maybe 1-1.5% of the super fortunate among us. House Republicans, in full delusional mode, are saying even that’s too much and are threatening to scuttle the whole deal.

On the expenditure side, it’s the Congressional Democrats that have hijacked the cloak of delusion from Republicans, by pretending that fixes aren’t needed to reign in Social Security and Medicare costs. Those 2 benefits for seniors are literally bankrupting the country, and pretending that nothing should be done to reform those programs reaches new heights in the arena of delusion. Especially since the fixes needed are relatively simple. All it takes is increasing the eligibility age of those programs from 65 to 67, and then eventually to 70. Applying the Social Security and Medicare taxes on all income would also help. Raising the eligibility ages on both programs would be entirely justified since longevity ages have significantly increased since the passage of their legislation. Social Security was enacted in the 1930s, when living to the age of 65 was a big deal. Today the longevity rate for most Americans is approaching 80.

In the end, it’s not so much the dysfunctional behavior of government representatives, as it is the incredibly dysfunctional action of the populace that voted for such a highly partisan and divided government in the first place. Even if, by some miracle, we avoid going over the fiscal cliff, more trauma will ensue as the year unfolds. The debt ceiling will have to be raised shortly, and most Republicans are opposed to raising it unless substantial spending cuts are made, cuts that are opposed by most Democrats. If the debt ceiling is not raised, then large chunks of the government will have to be shut down and shuttered. We are the only country in the world that voluntarily shuts down its government due to partisan bickering. Appropriations bills will have to be passed, again with vigorous partisan divide on on both sides of the aisle. And the President and Congress will constantly be at each other’s throats due to the extreme polarization and poisoned political atmosphere that currently exists.

As I said at the outset, fear, anger and paranoia will almost invariably lead to bad decision-making, and that’s exactly what has happened in both the political and social arenas. And now we have to live with the consequences of that bad decision-making for at least the next 2 years. Happy new-year everyone.

 

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GERALD ON THE FISCAL CLIFF

I ran into my friend Gerald again, and this time he was sort of ranting about the fiscal cliff.  When he found out that his taxes would go up significantly in January because of Congressional inability to renew the Bush tax cuts, he became even more visibly upset than when he lost his money betting on Romney to win the election. Once again he asked if I could write a blog letting the world know what he thought of this Congressional inaction. Once again I reminded him of how easy it would be to obtain his own blog and write whatever he wanted. Gerald still wasn’t in the mood to do this. I then told him I would not write another entry trying to capture the way he thought about things. Finally, Gerald asked if I would “lend” him my blog, just this one time, and he would do the writing. Despite deep misgivings, and against my better judgement, I reluctantly agreed, this one time. Besides, I had actually gotten some favorable comments on his previous posting. So from this point on, the keyboard is in Gerald’s hands. You may find the verbiage a little “earthier” than I would normally use.

To All The Morons Currently Running Congress:

What the fuck is the matter with you people. You can’t bring yourselves to slightly upping the tax rate on really rich guys, so I’m going to have to cough up several grand more out of my pension. Are you really that imbecilic? What, the rich don’t have enough mansions, or yachts, or private jets? The guy with the 12 car garage still needs a couple of Rolls Royces to fill in 2 empty parking spaces? Not only is your inability to get your act together going to cost me several thousand bucks, but more money will also be  taken out of the Missus social security check. When she heard that she nearly exploded. She threatened to go to Washington and have out with all you imbeciles. Believe me, you don’t want a confrontation with the Missus when she’s angry. I guarantee it wouldn’t be pretty.

Normally, I don’t give a fuck that you do virtually nothing on Capitol Hill except fight with each other. I’m usually too busy making my weekly contributions at the craps tables or the sports books at the Strip casinos to give a damn. I know that a productive week for you people is to declare May 14 as National Walnut Day, or some piece of shit “legislation” like that. A normal work week for you people is usually Tuesday – Thursday, anyhow. Then you leave town Thursday night or Friday morning, and don’t come back until Monday night. And that’s if there’s no holiday at the time. If there is a holiday, then it’s an automatic 2-3 weeks off from your “arduous” labors. My cousin Stan, who works down at the auto shop is more productive than you guys. True, he comes in most mornings with a bad hangover, and needs a few gulps from his silver flask to get himself through the day. But at least he shows up for work most mornings, and unlike you morons, actually fixes cars now and then. What do you guys ever accomplish for the couple of hundred thousand they’re paying you?

And you Republicans especially take the cake. First you blow the presidential election by pissing off women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities. Women were especially pissed off when those 2 idiots you put up for the Senate in the mid-west came out with their crazy anti-abortion rhetoric, allowing the public to see that your party was swimming out there in looney-tuneville. At least, one would expect that if they did harbor such crazy ideas, they would be smart enough to keep them to themselves. But no, they had to blab them for the whole world to hear. As the Missus would say- they have shit for brains. So who’s left that’s still on your side. Us white guys?  When we go over the fiscal cliff and we start bringing home smaller paychecks, who do you think we’ll blame- Obama or the Republicans. I’ll give you a clue. It won’t be Obama. So the only ones still left in the Republican Party will be the bible-thumpers and the billionaires. Good luck winning elections with that as your base. Shit for brains.

If  I get a smaller pension check, I won’t be able to go down to the Strip and keep the casino workers so gainfully employed taking my money. Plus less people will come to Las Vegas to gamble away their kids college funds, or their retirement savings. This will raise the unemployment rate here in Nevada, which is already the worst in the country. Huge chunks of Las Vegas away from the Strip are already abandoned and look like ghost towns. When the fiscal cliff comes in January, it will only get worse. So here we are on Christmas eve looking at a bleak future. Between the tragic shootings in Connecticut that killed so many innocent, precious  children, and the looming fiscal cliff, there isn’t a lot of merriment going around. Ho, ho, ho.

Well I don’t want to seem to be too judgmental. I am judgmental, of course, but I try to fake not being so. Maybe, at the last moment, you esteemed Congressmen and women will pull a rabbit out of the hat and actually fix the tax situation. That will only leave the mind-boggling deficit, the high unemployment rate, the weak economy and Iran getting a nuclear bomb to worry about. I don’t have high hopes for fixing those things either. But I guess, what will be, will be. In the meantime, stay well, have a happy holiday season, and at least pretend you’re doing something meaningful for the country. As always, I remain:

Your humble servant, Gerald P.

 

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