News Section: Opinion
Fiscal Cliff: Another B-Movie
Ludwig Erhard said: "A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece." In Washington, compromise never shows up, however, its elected officials do, though seemingly only when seeking power-grabs for big-ticket donors, while leaving excuses for the rest of us. All the fuss over the "Fiscal Cliff" is just a bad replay of the B-Movie "Debt Ceiling," where we sat agonized and eager to see if Congress could save us from ourselves. Pleeeaaaase not again.
Once more, Republicans are relentless with threats, promising to step over as many bodies as necessary to retain their privileged tax breaks; and Democrats seem evermore likely to throw a chunk of Social Security and Medicare onto the table as sacrificial lambs to close the deal. But alas, it's all for show.
As the deadline approaches and we near the last verse of Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, legislatures whine on camera to show the cuff marks which kept them bound, and speak of the anguish they have endured trying to rescue us from their previous policies -- as if we might have forgotten that they authorized (or demanded) all this spending. It seems that the only compromising going on here is with their memories.
But in spite of the overwhelming incompetence and little bang for our buck we're getting from Washington, might we be missing out on a magic moment, if we don't let the Bush-era tax cuts expire?
What an opportunity for the people to see just how dear they are to the hearts in Washington. By design, the cuts were to last only 10 years. Their purpose: to improve our country's economic forecast; one that had just finished two consecutive quarters of surplus revenue (paying down the country's debt). Those were the first surpluses to come along in quite some time, and that was with a tax code we would return to if the cuts expire.
Those who benefited did not accomplish what they proposed when asking for those tax cuts; quite the opposite. A reconstruction and modernization of U.S. industries didn't happen, not here at least. Factories were reconstructed and modernized, but they were overseas, not in the U.S. over that 10-year period of discounted taxes.
In 2010, almost 10 years after the cuts were enacted, the AFL-CIO reported the loss of more that three million manufacturing jobs and 850,000 professional service jobs had moved overseas.
Paul Almeida, President, Department for Professional Employees at the AFL-CIO, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, stating, "Based on a survey of the world’s 100 largest financial services firms, Deloitte Research found that these companies expect to shift $356 billion worth of operations and about two million jobs to low-wage countries over the next five years. Forrester Research Inc. predicts that American employers will move about 3.3 million white-collar service jobs and $136 billion in wages overseas in the next 15 years, up from $4 billion in 2000."
Why President Obama approved a two-year extension for the Bush Tax Cuts two years ago can only be guessed -- fear of damaging a tenuous recovery, the spirit of compromise, lack of will for a fight on the hill? That extension added over $2 trillion dollars to the $10 trillion in revenue already acquired by the largest benefactors of the cuts.
To date, through the Bush Tax Cuts, the American people have gambled more than $12 trillion, in what would have been tax revenue, on a plan that was supposed to improve our economic forecast. It didn't work. It's time to reel in the economic injustice and injury imposed on our economy by the illusion that America's corporate executives really have the American people at heart.
President Obama, let the tax cuts expire. And the day they do, put legislation forward that reduces the taxes for the bottom 98 percent of wage earners (under $250,000 annually) to it's current level. Wall Street will appreciate the stability and the country, maybe the world, will thank you for taking the necessary leadership.
The Republicans that don't vote for the legislation? Their position will be clearly noted and surely that vote will be political fodder for their next election. If the economy continues to flounder, even more people will vote with their wallet, and that may bring the Republican Party closer to the endangered spices list.