This interesting chart from the Tax Policy Center was published in the Syracuse Post Standardon Sunday, November 11, 2012. Of course, since we are hoping to cut $4 trillion dollars from our debt, the $535.90 billion does not really come close to what we owe. Republicans are still opposed to raising taxes on the wealthy and even when they speak of “finding common ground” they don’t really mean it. They want to ”revise the tax code to lower rates and eliminate some tax breaks,” according to John Boehner who also said, “I’m proposing that we avert the fiscal cliff together in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.” He said that cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, known as entitlement programs in Washington-speak have to be part of the equation. He also suggested we raise the debt limit.
The Post-Standardarticle says that “the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report Thursday that failing to act on the fiscal-cliff components could shave half a percentage point off of the growth in the first half of 2013, raise the jobless rate to 9.1 percent and probably trigger another recession. The CBO also said that addressing the components of the fiscal cliff results in a 3 or 4 percentage point swing between contraction and growth.” (talk about hedging your bets)
Lately we are arguing about “mandates”. The Democrats claim they have a mandate to raise taxes on the wealthy because they won the Presidency and the Senate. The Republicans say they have a mandate for their economic proposals because they won the House. They claim that people reelected the Republicans to the House to keep the country from adopting the Democratic agenda for avoiding the fiscal cliff. They obviously continue to protect the rich and try to find ways to cut that bunch of deadbeats (called the poor, the disabled, and children who make up the 47% of people) who use Medicaid and food stamps. I have never heard so much talk of mandates. Believe me the Republicans cannot claim any kind of mandate. I suppose someone could figure out exactly what percentage of however-much-a-mandate is that the President holds, how much the Senate holds, how much the President and the Senate hold together, and how much the House of Representatives holds, of course taking into account the powers as delegated in the Constitution. Does the President hold 62% of “the mandate” because he got 332 electoral college votes? Or do we go with the popular vote? Would this qustionable math get us any closer to avoiding the fiscal cliff or solving our debt and deficit problems, our tax problems, or our economic difficulties?
Paul Krugman, an economist who writes in the Opinion section of the New York Times, believes that the Republicans are using their fear tactics once again and that we can call their bluff and go over the fiscal cliff if we need to without inviting total disaster. He agrees with a plan that includes both revenue and cuts. Others say that Krugman is wrong and that the dangers of cliff leaping are real. How will we know unless we go over that cliff? I picture us holding hands and jumping. But I hope we don’t do that. We have never needed adults more than we do in Washington right now, and they still seem to be missing. (We won the mandate! No we won the mandate!) Some people are saying get rid of all the Bush tax cuts. I wish I could say that but I have looked at my budget and it says no way! Across the board cuts sound fair, but so many people are appalled by the idea that I have to accept that I do not know enough about the economics of the Federal budget to insist that I am right about cuts. Obama says he wants $1.6 trillion in revenues over the next ten years.(WSJ, 11.14.2012) Is he likely to get it? Is he just settng a high startng point for the horse trading yet too come? What will those GOP scoundrels do? Is it time to make signs and march on the Federal Buildings (with permits of course)? Soon, perhaps, soon.