Congress avoided going over the proverbial "fiscal cliff."
Republicans, universally incapable of compromise, caved in the wee hours of the morning to prevent us from potential economic damage to the economy and the recovery.
As a result, taxes were raised on income over $400,000, unemployment insurance was extended, and the Alternative Minimum Tax was put to rest forever. These moves all help continue the slow growth and keeps us on a path to possible recovery.
Significant? Yes! But is it sufficient?
Some good things are included in the last-minute legislation but, given the number of economic issues that need to be addressed, it fell far short.
Republicans were backed into a corner and forced to acquiesce or face repercussions for the damage inaction would have done to our economy.
Preserving current tax levels for 98 percent of American taxpayers was a positive move for a still struggling economy and even intransigent Republicans understood the public's position. And, raising taxes on the top 2 percent had become a populist issue such that some Republicans had to break their pledge to Grover Norquist.
But the debate over taxes is not over. Tax reform is a necessary evil that Congress will be required to tackle over the coming year. Finding an equitable balance will be the challenge and some have no desire to make it equitable. Republicans tend to ignore two preliminary elements of the Constitution, insure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare that preside in the Preamble.
And Congress is not very good at handling "real" challenges.
The fight over taxes, in the way of reform, is not over and will be an interesting clash of wills; a battle of ideologies. Loopholes must be closed, subsidies eliminated, the tax code simplified, and tax credits excised.
The right-wing has talked a big tax reform game while running for election but have been reluctant to indicate what they would eliminate, slice, dice, cut, or trash, obviously fearful that popular tax benefits would be ill received.
So, do they now have the cajones to reduce or eliminate the mortgage tax credit? Will they retract charitable donations, especially those to churches or religious organizations?
What about subsidies? Will they finally take back the $4 billion in unjustified big oil subsidies? Or how about the subsidies for the dairy farmers that keep the price of milk down?
There is a lot to think about and the decisions will be difficult if not impossible. Tough-talking Republicans have backed themselves into another corner and may again pay a political price. Interestingly, they believe they're holding all the cards as the debt ceiling approaches.
The political cost may become even steeper if they try to hold the debt ceiling hostage. In their previous attempt they didn't fare so well and with a public more attune to the dynamics of the tax structure and the importance of raising the debt ceiling, they would fare even worse.
If we strip the lies from their rhetoric it is easy to prove that ideologies they prescribe to are all wrong and are the reason we are in this economic quagmire. They, unfortunately, must continue to lie to the American people -- about the debt ceiling, the spending, taxes, tax reform, and who caused the deficit.
Again we find ourselves in a struggle between truth and lies, right and wrong. Meanwhile, the American people are left twisting in the wind, unsure of their economic future or the future of this country.
Republicans have done a lot of damage: the Bush tax cuts, wars, Medicare Part D, the transfer of wealth, allowing the increase in corporate corruption, deregulating the banks and financial services, gutting regulatory agencies, denying climate warming, and destroying the electoral system. Their uncaring governance has made our economic rebalancing complicated and left us vulnerable to the next great disaster.
Despite the damage they've done the American people have been, characteristically, resilient. But we are at the end of our rope and holding the debt ceiling hostage for destructive spending cuts will do nothing to lengthen it.
Now, to compensate for their failures, for their impotence, Republicans want deep cuts to spending -- not on defense, Homeland Security, the TSA, NSA, nor on Big Oil. They want to reduce our social net, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; cut food stamps; eliminate extended unemployment benefits; destroy Planned Parenthood; reduce various programs and aid to the poor, veterans, seniors, students, the disabled, and children.
What kind of world would that be?
Cuts in these crucial programs will send us spiraling back into recession and the pain will increase for everyone but the top 2 percent!
Don't let these congressional idiots leave us twisting in the wind. Implore your congressional representatives -- especially the Republicans -- to quit playing games with our welfare.
Tell them to do the right thing for the country, for the soldiers and the veterans, for the seniors -- for our children.
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