Dear Lame Duckers:
Welcome back to Washington! For dozens of you, these next few weeks will be your final moments on the congressional stage; you'll soon be moving back to your home states, or at least to K Street.
For the rest of you, you lucky devils who survived re-election (or didn't even have to run this time around), this lame-duck session will be the calm before the storm. Except for the calm part.
I can't help noticing you're already squabbling over what you should do with the time you've got left. You Democrats won't have nearly as much power in the new Congress; if there's anything you still want to accomplish, you'd better get it done now. You Republicans, on the other hand, know you'll be sitting pretty come January; you don't see any reason not to start throwing your weight around right this minute.
Which is why it's so reassuring to realize that, for all your differences, the overwhelming majority of members of Congress in both parties are united in one overarching belief: Tax cuts should be permanent.
I'm referring, of course, to the so-called "Bush-era tax cuts" -- although, given the great and growing size of the hole we're in, "Bush-error tax cuts" might be more accurate.
Now, you distinguished members may disagree on exactly how high up the food chain these permanent tax cuts should go. Should they be limited to folks making up to a quarter-million or so a year? Or should they go to the wealthiest sliver as well? Tax cuts for everyone, in other words. Forever.
Or maybe you'll split the difference. Maybe you'll make only the lower-end tax cuts officially permanent, while the top-sliver tax cuts will simply be essentially permanent: You'll extend them for a few years, confident that when it comes to enforcing the pull date, future Congresses won't have any more guts than you do.
However you decide, though, isn't it comforting to know that you can determine right now exactly what America's tax rates ought to be for all eternity? That this particular bunch of you, in November and December of 2010, can bind some other bunch of you years later, and keep them from doing what they think is necessary? (You can't, of course -- it's all Capitol Kabuki. But still...)
Anyway, I found myself getting every bit as excited by the concept as you are! Who among us, after all, hasn't wished for the power to keep certain things in our lives perfectly stable? Perfectly predictable?
Which is why I'm writing you this note. I'm thinking that once you've made the tax cuts permanent, you might consider having a go at a few other items.
Could you -- just for instance, I mean -- make the economy permanent? (Once it's recovered, that is.) No big ups, no big downs. No cycles at all. Nothing that might require new thinking, let alone new responses. This is a particularly important one, especially once you lock in those tax cuts.
Likewise, could you make the world situation permanent? No new powers rising, no new threats. No situations. And certainly no surprises.
How about the weather? If you could make the weather permanent, that would be great. The last thing we need is another weather disaster like Katrina, and suddenly you've got to spend all this extra money you haven't planned on spending. What a pain!
Also, if the weather stayed permanent, I could dump all my winter clothes. Or all my summer clothes. Whichever.
And speaking of clothes: While you're at it, if you could keep my waistline permanent, I wouldn't need two different sizes of jeans. I could eat whatever I wanted, and as much of it as I wanted, and it wouldn't matter, and --
If anyone can do it, you can.
# # #
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t be the last to watch the viral video everyone is talking about. Learn more