Everything that everyone loathes about Washington was present in the “fiscal cliff” bill just passed by Congress. It is 153 pages long; most members probably hadn’t read all of it before voting on it; it was delivered in the middle of the night; it was loaded with pork, and while the country is already swamped with massive debt, it contains massive giveaways to satisfy interest groups and campaign contributors. Did I mention the bill raises taxes on top of the coming Obamacare taxes, but does nothing — nothing — to address the debt problem?
As with previous congresses, this one delayed the debt issue for two months and will have to face it again, along with what to do about the debt ceiling.
This “fiscal cliff” was a construct created by Congress. The additional revenue from productive businesses and individuals earning more than $400,000 and couples making $450,000 won’t put more than the tiniest dent in the deficit and do nothing about the $16 trillion debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office the ratio of new taxes to spending cuts is 41 to 1. This assumes the cuts actually materialize, which is unlikely. If they do, they will merely be window dressing.
We’ve seen it all before. Democrats play this game more effectively than a nimble-handed magician. According to Americans for Tax Reform, in 1982, congressional Democrats promised President Reagan “$3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.” Reagan agreed. He got the tax hikes immediately, but had his political pocket picked when Democrats never came through with the spending cuts.
It was the same with President George H.W. “read my lips, no new taxes” Bush. In 1990, “Bush agreed to $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes went through ... Not a single penny of the promised spending cuts actually happened.”
Conservatives sent a large number of “tea party” members to the House in the 2010 election, hoping to fix government. But the political culture there has been contaminated by an untreatable virus and even those with the best intentions soon acquire the infection.
Always the same
Eighty-five Republicans voted for the monstrous bill (151 stood on principle and voted against it) because their leaders said that if they didn’t it would hurt the party’s chances in the next election.
The country should make up its mind. Do we want a government that lives within the boundaries of the Constitution — limited, financially stable and spending only on what the Constitution says it should — or, do we want a nation whose initials should be changed to ATM, dispensing goodies to any and all without regard to the financial health and welfare of this and future generations?
Tribune Media Services