Saturday, January 5, 2013

Washington Math

Obama:  "I'm asking the richest Americans to pay a little bit more, while preserving tax cuts for 98% of working Americans."

Well, we got a deal on the "fiscal cliff". 

Sort of.

Somehow, with the magic of Washington, D.C. mathematics a tax increase on "the richest 2%" ended up a tax increase on 77% of working Americans.  And this doesn't include the ~$1T in new taxes/tax increases coming online in the new year to help fund Obamacare.

To add financial injury to the insult of calling what our politicians cobbled together in 11th hour horse-trading a "deal", the legislation is loaded with giveaways to political insiders and their favorites.  From Hollywood movie moguls to rum producers to renewable energy interests;  if you had the ear of anyone on the negotiating teams, you got yours.

There's a saying:  "Nothing good happens after 2 a.m."  I have a companion to that:  "Nothing good comes out of Congress at the last minute."

The bill that passed the Senate (never mind the Constitutional requirement that all revenue generating bills (ie., taxes) must originate in the House of Representatives) was literally just such a last minute production.  The 147-page bill was delivered to Senators literally minutes before holding the vote.  There is no way any single individual, including the one's responsible for it's creation, had time to review the legislation before passage, much less any meaningful deliberation or debate.  What happened to this "most transparent administration in history" and "we're going to have all negotiations covered by CSPAN, publicly broadcast for all Americans to observe"?  Not to mention the little detail of posting all legislation (House and Senate) online for a full 72 hours before any floor action, in order to allow for public comment and input?

It was reported months ago that Democrats were willing to accept a deal that increased revenue in a ratio of 1:3 for spending reductions.  This "deal" isn't even close to that.  It's not even dollar-for-dollar.  Obama repeatedly said he wanted a "balanced approach".  The result?  The President got a deal for $41 dollars in increased revenue for every $1 in spending reductions.  The best part?  The spending reductions are "To Be Determined"; no specifics.

John Boehner and the Republicans who signed on to this disaster claim that it was done to protect the 98% of Americans who would have seen their taxes rise if all of the Bush-era tax cuts were allowed to revert to their earlier levels.  We've already seen what that 2% turned into.  They also claim that now that the tax rates have become permanent for that 98% of working Americans, they now hold the upper hand on spending reduction targets with the upcoming debates over the raising of the debt ceiling. 

Problem is, Obama has already said that he is not going to negotiate further.  He has publicly stated that he will not allow the Congress to use the debate over the debt ceiling to press him for spending reductions.  In fact, he also stated in the same press announcement that he intends to push for increased "investment" in necessary infrastructure improvements to help move the economy forward.  For those new to the game, "investment" is Washington-speak for increased spending.

We've heard all of this before.  Remember the "emergency" stimulus spending that was so vital to the economy in order to ward off a "2nd Great Depression"?  It was supposedly targeted to "shovel ready jobs".  Months later, we found our President admitting, with a chuckle, that "shovel ready wasn't as shovel ready as we thought."  We still don't know where most of that money went.

Never fear!  The courageous, stalwart Republicans are really gonna hold him to it, this time.  They've finally drawn a line in the sand and they aren't about to be pushed around any more.

I'd almost settle for them being pushed around a little less.


  1. Great post. Interestingly, much of the pork in the fiscal cliff bill actually originated earlier in the summer in the Finance Committee in the Senate, where they passed it 19-5. Then it apparently sat around waiting for some bill they could stuff it into that would have a chance to get passed by the House. The Wall Street Journal has a good write up of it. (
    I think in the end we will see a negative ratio of tax increases and spending cuts. Meaning we'll have higher taxes and higher spending as well, with not much to see in the way of deficit reduction.

    1. What else would one expect from a group that considers a reduction in the pre-planned rate of spending increase to be a "draconian spending cut"?

    2. I am tired of hearing that one too. CBS News was parroting it this morning. How $0.1 trillion out of $3.5 trillion can be considered "draconian" I have no idea. Especially when $1 trillion of it is borrowed.