Jumping to conclusions and off the fiscal cliff

If you did not hear anything about the “fiscal cliff” before the election, you will hear plenty about it now.  Prior to the national election, those running for office would rather not be handing out bad news.  The budget cuts and tax hikes that automatically kick in January 1st are so severe they are certain to throw us into recession.  Warnings have been issued on Wall Street and by the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, but they had been pushed to the back burner while Federal candidates pumped billions of campaign dollars into the economy.  The campaign is over and so is the party.

When I looked at the lack of action by the Congress back in mid-September in this blog, I noted that we were headed over the cliff, and instead of halting the disaster from happening, Congress got out-of-town.  Now there are no distractions of debates and rallies, ads and speeches, accusations and claims.  There is only the news that we will look like the poorest of downtrodden European nations if we do not get to work.  Does this mean the parties will now work together on behalf of the American people?  Nope!

The Democrats will lead the charge to get a settlement, primarily because they have no choice.  The President will need to put proposals front and center and he has done so this weekend.  It sounds like the same reworked proposals that the Republicans rejected earlier in the year and they are not likely to go for them now.  Speaker John Boehner, leader of the Obstructionists in Congress, has renewed his call for benefits for the wealthy and tax breaks for the rich.  He will claim that jobs will be lost and now he has a report, funded by rich business leaders and co-authored by  Bush White House deputy Robert Carroll, to support his claims.

Ernst and Young took money from other Wall Street fat cats to produce a report whose conclusions are of a rather dubious nature.  No matter for Republicans though, as they will wave the report from now until the economy hurls down into some deep dark abyss.  “Then what happens,” you may ask.  Then they will blame the president from now until the next presidential election and tells us if we had only elected Mitt, none of this would have happened.  Boehner (you know, the guy who always looks like he is not only bored with you, but better than you as well) wants to preserve Bush-era tax cuts, while the president want them to stay in place only for those making lest than 250,000 dollars.   Letting the tax cuts expire still will not bring the wealthy back to tax rates of years ago, but the Republicans will tell you, while brandishing their E&Y report, that raising the top marginal tax rate a couple of percent will cost the economy 700,000 jobs.  Perhaps it will if the business leaders affected on their personal incomes act like some jerk CEO in Las Vegas did this past week when he fired 22 employees because, he claims, Obama got elected.  You see, there are consequences to not giving the rich what they what, or voting the way they tell you.  OK, not all the rich act that way, but most are not Warren Buffet or Bill Gates either.

Nevertheless, both sides agree action must be taken and if we can not get some extra bucks from the rich, where are we to get it?  We will squeeze the middle class and the poor instead.  At least that is what Speaker Bonehead will want.  We have to cut “entitlements” is the claim and the Republicans are doing their best to turn that into a dirty word.  They don’t need entitlement programs because Congresspeople have the most ridiculously lavish retirements our tax dollars can buy.  If they want to cut my retirement, they should cut their own just as much.  No matter what the Grand Obstructionist Party (GOP) may think, I would certainly never tell someone that they are not “entitled” to the Social Security or Medicare that they paid into for 50 years.  Maybe if we had the freedom to just put it in a bank and let it sit there for 50 years, we could retire like Clint Eastwood and talk to our chairs, but let’s not fall off that cliff while we are running toward another.  It is too late to ask the elderly to help preserve tax cuts for the rich.  Where in the world is the moral leadership of these people?  Are they not in Congress to protect the common good?  Putting the middle class out of work and the poor at the mercy of local charities does not seem to be the way to avert disaster, unless we are talking about some executive’s trip to the Cayman’s to rest, relax and stash some cash.  Then these cuts are “necessary.”

Yes, we have all heard the saying that Social Security was never meant to fund retirement 100 per cent and we should have all stashed a lot of cash before we got near retirement, but cutting social security for those almost at or already in retirement is nothing short of cruel actions by those who will not be affected by even 1 cent on their retirements.  Hey guys, we did not send people to Washington so they could serve a few years and retire with top pensions.  Before you go after my retirement, how about trimming a little off your much bigger benefit?

There was a time when Republicans where seeking Democratic support to preserve Social Security.  On April 20, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a measure to preserve Social Security saying, “This bill demonstrates for all time our nation’s ironclad commitment to Social Security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire.”  Where is that sort of Republican leadership now?  When a Republican President of the United States promises retirement benefits to the nation, is it another Republican’s right to break that promise?  We all know that reform is necessary, and perhaps the retirement age needs to be raised down the road somewhere, but not at the end of a road that goes over the cliff.

Note:  Boehner actually suggested in 2010 that the retirement age should be raised to 70 in perhaps 20 years.  There was no political will in either party to push it through then, however.

English: U.S. President Barack Obama meets wit...

English: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner during the debt ceiling increase negotiations. The official White House caption says “President Barack Obama meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner on the patio near the Oval Office, Sunday, July 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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