Friday, December 28, 2012

At the Precipice, A Decision

Can Obama and Congress come to a conclusion that averts the fiscal cliff?  We'll know in three days.

It's worth noting that the median net worth of Congress - Senate and House combined - is about $880,000.  That's a hell of a lot more net worth than I can claim, including the house.  It stands to reason that there should be a lot of friction coming from these people about raising taxes - they have an awful lot to lose.  Republicans and Democrats both, they stand to take a serious bath if their taxes go up.  Most of them don't fall into the category of the so-called "ultra rich," the top one percent income-earners in the United States.

It's pretty easy to see where the distrust and unease come from.  The richest people in America, even without insurance and government-funded health care, can afford what they need.  They can simply pay for things.  The vast majority of the rest of us, however, cannot.  A tax rate hike hits a rich person pretty hard, no doubt - an extra 10 percent is an extra ten percent, and when your income is 25 million that means shelling out a lot more money than before.  But unlike somebody getting by on $30,000 or less, that guy with the $25 million income can afford his necessities.  His groceries are a tiny portion of his income, his health care premiums are a vanishingly small sliver of his take-home pay.  If he isn't an idiot trying to pay the mortgage on a private island, the super-rich guy has very little to worry about.  He could lose 90% of his income and still be considered very well-off indeed.

A guy on $30,000, losing 90% of his income, would be on the ragged edge of homelessness.  With that kind of money, you can afford a nice used van to live in.

Obama and the four Congressional leaders (majority and minority heads, Senate and House) met for an hour - c'mon, you needed a whole hour? - and Obama is coming away saying he's "modestly optimistic."

I'm not optimistic, modestly or otherwise.  I'm damned annoyed.  In that same story, Obama is quoted as saying that "the hour for immediate action is here..."  No it isn't!  The hour for immediate action was months ago!

Politicians are playing hardball against each other, and they're using our country's economy as the ball.  I'm mad as hell, utterly disgusted that this kind of important issue must fall prey to such brinskmanship.  The stakes are too damned high.

I know I keep saying "let's just go over the cliff, and deal with it."  I'm still saying that.  But the most frustrating part is seeing this last-minute scramble to try to come to some kind of agreement.  This is a large part of how the US lost its favorable credit rating just last year.  Does anybody else remember that?  That was the same sort of problem, and it would appear to me that NO ONE HAS LEARNED ANYTHING FROM IT.

Well, I've learned something from it.  I've learned something pretty important, and I hope every politician that has anything to do with my part of the country gets the message, loud and clear.


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