I suppose we all knew it would be like this, and Congress sure knows how to put the fun in dysfunctional – if by fun you mean suicidal thrill seeking.
President Obama came out swinging in his initial offer to Republicans on the impending doom known as sequestration or the “fiscal cliff,” calling for, “$1.6 trillion in new taxes, $50 billion in fresh spending on the economy and an effective end to congressional control over the size of the national debt.” The President’s plan would also exempt Medicare and Social Security from budget cuts. To his credit, at least for the moment, he seems to be willing to spend his political capital by placing the impetus on Republicans to counter that offer with their own plan, which they did Monday:
House Republicans put forth a $2.2 trillion “fiscal cliff” counteroffer to President Barack Obama on Monday, calling for raising the eligibility age for Medicare, lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security benefits and bringing in $800 billion in higher tax revenue — but not raising rates for the wealthy. The White House declared the Republicans still weren’t ready to “get serious.”
The GOP’s plan would keep the Bush tax cuts in place, which, aside from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been one of the single largest contributors to the nation’s debt, but their plan, as per usual, is devoid of specifics:
The White House complained the latest offer was still short on details about what loopholes would be closed or deductions eliminated, and it insisted that any compromise include higher tax rates for upper-income earners. “Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our nation needs,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement.
Monday’s Republican plan contains few specific and anticipates that myriad details will have to be filled in next year in legislation overhauling the tax code and curbing the growth of benefit programs.
Here’s what ticks me off about these “negotiations”: they’re being conducted behind closed doors, with backroom deals being made by both sides. These negotiations should be conducted directly before the citizenry, whose lives they will affect, after all.
Since they aren’t, it would be wise for each and every one of us to have our parachutes at the ready, because as Jon Stewart pointed out last week:
“Two summers ago, Congress realized that if they couldn’t compromise on a deficit and revenue plan, our economy would crash. Well, it turns out they couldn’t compromise, so here’s what they did: in order to force themselves to work together and compromise, they concocted a catastrophic penalty that would itself crash our economy! It’s brilliant!
“Put it another way: there’s an asteroid headed towards the earth. We made it – and fired it at ourselves.”
Again, why does it take a comedian to point these things out…?
WATCH (and keep your anti-depressants handy):