Each day as I watch the morning news I see that the poor Lakers are still in free fall, the Dodgers are still spending money like Saudi princes and, with only 18 days before we go over the fiscal cliff, there’s no discernible progress in Washington in solving the pressing debt crisis. As Alfred E. Newman used to say, “What, me worry?”
One thing seems clear during the negotiations, or as I call them the “Fiscal Cliff Follies,” being rich in America must carry a heavy burden. Otherwise why would folks with seven-figure incomes, offshore tax havens and car elevators whine so much about people on food stamps? While the rich enjoy their caviar they’re steamed about the poor eating government cheese. Go figure.
While I could have sworn Barack Obama won the election, so far refusing to budge in settling the debt is GOP House Speaker John Boehner (whose faults seem to include wearing too much self-tanning lotion, which often makes him look orange).
A major roadblock is the proposed tax hike on incomes over $250,000. It would only affect the top 2 percent but Tea Bagger members of the House are adamantly opposed even though two-thirds of the country is in favor. (You can’t get 66 percent of the country to agree that the sun rises in the east.)
How did George W. Bush ram through the tax cuts? “Amazingly” is the answer, especially when you consider that throughout recorded history, he’s the only leader in the world to ever wage a war (in this case two) and lower taxes.
Bush simply charged both wars on the credit card so that we’d have to deal with it long after he left office. (For those who say to move on and stop blaming Bush, to me that’s like telling the Goldmans to move on and stop blaming O.J.)
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire on Jan. 1. Putting it in historical context, in the 1950s and early ‘60s, considered a golden era, the top tax rate was 90 percent and the economy, the middle-class and the stock market boomed. Even in the Reagan years the top rate was 50 percent. So currently, far from being onerous, it’s the lowest rate in 60 years!
To suggest that raising rates on the top 2 percent will destroy job growth is a red herring. It may mean slightly smaller Swiss bank accounts, but it’s ludicrous to assert that it will kill jobs. It may kill a few car elevators, but I think we’ll survive. Of course I can just hear Tea Baggers clamor, “Well, car elevators mean jobs!” God, I’ll be glad when these clowns are gone. (Apologies to clowns.)
One of the leading voices in the “anti-tax” crowd is Grover Norquist. Grover? What kind of name is that? Then again consider Mitt, Taggert, Track and Trig. Where do Republicans come up with these monikers for male children and why?
Anyway, Grover, a close friend of convicted felon Jack Abramoff, is the originator of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” signed by 95 percent of all Republicans in Congress. Infamously, Grover is the one who said, “I want to shrink government down to where we can drown it in the bathtub.” (To which former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson said, “I’d like to drown Norquist in the same tub.”)
So what will likely happen is Boehner will cave on the rate hike for the rich (though probably less than the 3.7 percent boost) and in return Obama will cave on Medicare and Social Security. (Confirming the late George Carlin’s warning, “Next they’ll be coming for your Social Security to give to their rich friends and you know what, they’ll get it.”)
If a bargain is struck (hopefully including the debt ceiling or in a few months we’ll be repeating this theatre of the absurd), I doubt there will be substantial cuts in the bloated Pentagon budget. (Romney wanted to give 10 percent more than they requested!) As it is we have troops in 150 countries, including 53,000 in Germany and 36,000 in Japan. (Talk about moving on. When did World War II end?)
Perhaps we should turn the fiscal crisis over to the Dodgers as they seem to be printing money. (Oil reserves under Chavez Ravine?) The Dodgers are counting on billions from an upcoming cable TV deal. Hey, maybe cable TV is the solution to our fiscal woes, i.e. “USA, the Reality Show.” Or maybe, given the record success of the 12-12-12 Concert for Hurricane Sandy Relief, we should have a benefit concert to “Save America From Debt?”
But miracle of miracles, maybe by the time this goes to print Boehner and Obama will have reached a compromise rendering these 822 words pointless. Then again, as some readers are only too quick to point out, it wouldn’t be the first time.
To see the George Carlin video go to YouTube and type “The real owners of the country.” Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.