Winter fun on the fiscal cliff
Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
Ring ting tingling too
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you,
Outside the snow is falling
And friends are calling “Yoo hoo,”
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you.
Sleigh Ride by Mitchell Parish, Leroy Anderson, 1948
It looks like there’s nothing left for the Republican House of Representatives to do than plan a media campaign, which is a polite way of saying try to win the propaganda war. So far President Obama is winning the agitprop war. He has cornered the toy factory speech zone in his campaign to make the Republicans choke down his Brussel sprouts of tax hikes. No phony alternative revenues through loophole-closing for Obama. No sir. It’s tax hikes or we all go over the fiscal cliff.
Though some have called it a fiscal slope and others have called it a fiscal bungee jump.
Obama just sees it as a fun sleigh ride together. Oh, he and Senate present pro tem Harry Reid and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., are just friends calling out, “Yoo hoo. Come on, it’s lovely weather, For a sleigh ride together with you.”
What else are we to make of Obama’s counteroffer of $1.6 billion in tax hikes over 10 years instead of the $800 billion he campaigned on. And he wants $50 billion in “stimulus” next year and permanent authority to raise the debt ceiling. That’s not a legitimate offer. He’s acting like the proctologist in chief.
It’s clear President Obama doesn’t plan to do any negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff, slope, bungee cord or sleigh ride. He’s going to go on vacation in Hawaii for 20 days and will blame the Republicans for taking the country over the fiscal cliff while he’s playing his 110th round of golf or partying with Jay Z and Beyonce.
What does he have to lose? He gets higher taxes. He thinks he’ll get more money to spend. And he gets to cut the Defense Department, which Democrats don’t like anyway. And he thinks he’ll get to spend the next four years blaming the Republicans, So where’s the incentive for Obama to do anything other than say, “My way or the highway.”
How does this happen?
Sequestration. Here’s the nickel summary from Fox News back on May 11:”When deficit talks tied to a vote to raise the U.S. debt limit broke down last summer, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, forged a last-minute agreement that raised the debt limit but put off deficit reduction. Instead the two leaders created a so-called ‘super committee’ charged with trimming $1 trillion in spending over the next decade. Should the ‘super committee’ fail in its mandate the automatic cuts known as sequestration would activate in January of 2013.”This was enabled by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.”What are the cuts?Here are the top four cuts, according to Boston’s NPR Website:
1. Department of Defense: $54.7 billion (Defense job cuts: 282,400 contractors and 48,100 civilian DOD jobs)
2. Health & Human Services: $6.57 billion (Centers for Disease Control: $70 million; National Institutes of Health: $2.5 billion)
3. Medicare: $5.6 billion, mainly in payments in to doctors and hospitals
4. Educational achievement and special education programs: $2.3 billion.
That’s just for starters. It’s supposed to add up to $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
What about the cliff? That is the end of the George W. Bush tax cuts that left half the country tax free (Mitt Romney’s famous 47 percent). The top marginal income tax rates go from 36 percent to 39 percent. Capital gains go from 15 percent to as high as 39.6 percent and inheritance taxes go from 35 percent on estates above $5.12 million to 55 percent on estates above $1 million.
Also the payroll tax cut ends Jan. 2, 2013. That payroll tax cut was the 6.2 percent that was supposed to fund Social Security. Even a publication as conservative as the Weekly Standard has called for extending the Social Security payroll tax cut. How do they think Social Security payments are funded? Al Gore’s lockbox?
Also on the cliff is any further extension of unemployment benefits, now at an average of 40 weeks but with 73 weeks available. And the Alternative Minimum Tax will put in more people into higher tax brackets. Originally passed by Congress to make sure millionaires didn’t use too many tax deductions, it now catches ordinary middle class taxpayers and the millionaires still shelter more money.
So, everybody ought to get on their longjohns because it’s going to be a long sleigh ride through the snow.