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Mickey Costa

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Why I Am (Not) Surprised

Posted: 12/31/2012 3:04 pm

Nine hours until the cliff hits, and nine hours until a new year. Tick tock. But will anything be that different next year? No matter what deal is struck, or whether one is struck at all, how much more of this are we going to take? We have a Congress that is as impotent as Hugh Hefner without Viagra. We have a president that no longer must run for office, and if he can't lead now then he was never a leader to begin with. This is part of his job. The buck stops with him, right?

It is just so utterly frustrating, to watch the news and hear the same exact rhetoric we all heard two months ago. "We are close to a deal. We are working hard to get one done." Only now, we are hours away! Obama tells us how he won't be celebrating the New Year this year. Should I say "Awww... What a guy?" Really?! I don't know who to blame more, Obama or the American people. I mean, Congress is clearly solely to blame, but that is nothing new -- no secret there. What did Bush say? Fool me once...

I will be a liberal on social issues until the day I die, but I would also like our politicians to have a modicum of fiscal sense in my lifetime. What the heck happened to Simpson-Bowles? Wasn't that bipartisan? As Bill Clinton said during the campaign.. this is MATH. There needs to be cuts--- not automatic ones, not ones that hurt the middle class or costs the people jobs, but there needs to be cuts nonetheless -- it's basic math, balance sheet 101.

At this late hour could we ever do this the right way? No. And that is okay. But when we hear about an agreement to agree, it better be a real one. Not some baloney about how we will have to deal with this two years from now (after midterm elections -- accident? I think NOT). Isn't that how we got into this current mess after the debt ceiling crisis? So, why the heck would I have any faith in our Congress to magically take this seriously when they couldn't do it this time around?

I don't need an economic theorist to tell me that fiscal responsibility is a good thing. I don't need a statistical bell curve to tell me that the top 2 percent are still middle class. If you're a family of four making 200,000 in New York City you are not rich! You are not a millionaire Romney fat cat! All I've heard is more empty rhetoric about not crushing the middle class -- who wants to honestly do that? I'm all for raising taxes on the super wealthy. I'm all for those who have done well to carry a bit more of the financial burden. I'm all for shared sacrifice. But I also know arithmetic. And I know that raising revenue will only deal with a minor part of the fiscal problem. Democrats will never admit to making cuts because it's political suicide for them -- OK. I get it. But what they -- all of Congress -- both parties -- don't get is that we can't afford politics.

We need them to lead. Making tough decisions that may unpopular to some of their constituents is what makes it leading! If it was easy, everybody could lead. The tough decisions is what makes it hard. And making cuts and being responsible isn't about cutting benefits and hurting poor people; it's about making these systems more cost effective. I mean, isn't this precisely their job? To make these calls. I wouldn't be as frustrated if the disagreement was truly substantive. But it isn't. It's party platitudes. They both are to blame. They're both still playing games. But... the election is over -- time for you to do your job. Even as they 'try' to do their job, all they seem to care about is the next election. When do they actually work? When do they focus on the present?

As surely as the ball will drop, Congress has already dropped the ball. A tax increase on the middle class was never going to happen -- nobody wants that. What we do desperately need can't be summed up on a spread sheet -- it's real leaders. If the people continue to stay distracted, if we keep arguing over what tax bracket should increase and what party is to blame for not putting forth a more tangible plan on cuts and taxes, or which party wasn't truly willing to negotiate -- then we are seriously in for a very bad year. No wait, scratch that -- future. It's like we are waiting for a speech from Vince Lombardi or the coach from Rudy: "This is OUR House!" Time to get mad, time to get pumped, time to get out on the field. Time to realize that this is not a game. This our lives. This is our country, and we are watching it become engulfed by political stagnation. Tipping point? Enter POTUS? If only.

If this isn't the proverbial slap in the face to wake this country up then I think we will always remain asleep. The Democrats will "win" this battle. Hey, they earned it. They out-jockeyed the Republicans. They fared well this past election. Kudos. But that mindset is precisely what is so utterly sad, scary, and anti-democratic. We, the people, will end up being the losers in the end. Representative democracy is showing its true colors right now, and they are not red, white, and blue.

 

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