Monday, December 10, 2012

Who In Washington Is Holding Middle-Class Tax Cuts Hostage Really?

Which One is Better..Or Worse?
To which guilty party can these words be assigned, Your Honor?

We are always surprised, although we shouldn't be, when we see the media attack the GOP in Congress for 'holding the middle-class hostage to getting tax cuts extended for the wealthy ('fat-cat, dishonest, conniving, Scrooge-like white rich) guys'. (That is the intimation, isn't it?  Tell the truth.)

Why is it taken as the Gospel Truth that the current impasse is solely the fault of the Republican Party in charge of the House of Representatives in Congress?

The narrative in the media goes like this: 'President Obama is a good guy. He just won re-election with a whopping 50.9% of the popular vote, which now means he won by a 'landslide of Biblical proportions'!  Now he has a 'mandate from the people' to do whatever he wants as President.  Because he is President Obama.'

The fact that he wants to see all the Bush tax cuts of 2002/03 extended in 3 weeks except for the wealthy is reported through the prism of the media as the act of a 'Benevolent Father of Our Nation', doesn't it?  FDR, you better watch out because Barack Obama is gaining on you in terms of national adoration.

'It is just those mean old Republicans in Congress who are preventing you, the great middle-class mass of America, from getting your $2,000/year in tax cuts starting on January 1, 2013!' sayeth The President.

Wait a minute!  Who gave the great middle-class a huge tax cut in the first place?

Right.  Much-maligned Republican President George W. Bush 43 and the 100% Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those tax cuts in the first place in 2002 and 2003 because they thought you were over-taxed 10 years ago, not just last year!

As a budget hawk, these tax cuts caused us a lot of heartburn for this reason:  They were never accompanied by the roughly $4.6 trillion in spending cuts between 2002 and this year, 2012 that would have made the tax cuts a completely deficit-neutral piece of legislation.  Our national debt would have stayed at roughly $5-$6 trillion had the GOP passed $4.6 trillion in attendant spending cuts to accompany the tax cuts instead of growing to close to $10 trillion when Bush left office in 2009.

To make matters worse, the GOP let PAYGO expire in 2002; the discretionary spending caps that started in the 1990 budget act die an ignominious death, and (get this), the GOP and 43 passed a dizzying run of higher federal spending and more entitlement growth in things like Medicare Part D, 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and No Child Left Behind.

The combination of tax cuts and explosive growth in spending made the period of time under President Bush and the GOP Congress one of the most fiscally irresponsible in American history. They say they have 'learned their lesson'.

The only period of time that has surpassed that desultory fiscal Tourette's episode as being more fiscally irresponsible?  2009-2011 under Democratic President Barack Obama and a US House and Senate completely in control and dominated by Democrats. They passed Obamacare which is now expected to increase the national debt by upwards of $2.6 trillion...all by itself!  Let's not forget the $1 trillion+ in stimulus spending that failed to stimulate the economy one iota plus the panoply of other spending programs for which President Obama has heavily advocated.

We now have a declining unemployment rate only because far more people are leaving the workforce than the numbers of people who are finding jobs!

Here's our question of the day:  Why isn't President Obama getting the blame for blocking the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the 'great masses of middle-class America' because of his desire to stick it to the wealthy?

It seems to us to be the opposite side of the same coin. 6 of one, half-dozen of the other. Obama's intransigence on raising taxes on the wealthy is at least the same as the GOP's reluctance to raise them on the same group of people. If Obama 'insists' on higher tax rates on the wealthy as a precondition for letting the Bush tax cuts be extended for the middle-class, as his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said publicly, why isn't that just 'as bad' as the GOP insistence not to raise taxes on the wealthy?

The real kicker in all this is that the truly wealthy have no inclination to pay any higher taxes regardless, ever. They have armies of tax accountants and lawyers at the ready to be paid as much as it takes to find legal ways to shelter their income for years if they have to or at least until President Obama is Ex-President Obama.

We see this as a colossal waste of time and energy...unless and until one thing is achieved and one thing only:  A complete and utter breaking of the upward cost factors in health care that are driving up health care expenses across-the-board in private health care, private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and every military and veterans health programs in the federal government.

If President Obama want to cut a deal on raising taxes on LeBron James, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates that connects it to a higher eligibility age in Medicare; tort reform, malpractice insurance reform; a squeezing-out of duplicative medicine and a way to get everyone to lose 25% of the body weight, stop smoking, stop over-drinking, stop eating Twinkies and Ho-Hos and get some exercise everyday, then we say:

'Hallelujah!  We will have been to the mountain-top and crossed the River Jordan at the same time!'

We are not holding our breath that something of this magnitude is under discussion at the present time.  We wish it were but even Erskine Bowles gives only a 30% chance of anything getting done before the end of the year.

Maybe going over the fiscal cliff will shock everyone back into the reality of us having to pay our bills and the piper when the time comes due.  Now is that time.

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