Friday, November 30, 2012

Is Obama Starting to Get Weak-Kneed over the 'Fiscal Cliff'?

Today's three- inch blaring headlines in The Denver Post embodied the media hysteria behind the fiscal cliff bunkum:


The article then proceeds to expatiate on all the perceived and projected major and minor disasters that may be expected to transpire, from defense contractors losing their money and jobs lost (no biggie - you need to find jobs that don't depend on war-making and weaponry - like $0.3 billion each F-35s that are of little use in asymmetric warfare anyhow),  to middle class folks having to suck up $2200 and more in extra taxes.  Again, no biggie - assuming you want your "entitlements" intact down the road. I.e. take the hit now, or take it when you're a geezer- via eviscerated benefits -  and no one will hire you. You can't have your 'cake' (tax cuts) and 'eat it' (future benefits). Look on higher taxes as a "gift" or at least practical device to support your future retirement, something like a 401k outlay!

In respect of the last, The New York Times today had a feature story wherein we learned that, contrary to all the hype, blather and mock consternation, that Americans have paid less in taxes than a generation ago. According to The Times, after quoting a sorehead who expressed the conviction that he wasn't getting ahead and merely "financing an expansion of government":

"“But in fact, most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes — federal, state and local — than they would have paid 30 years ago. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.

Households earning more than $200,000 benefited from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income. Middle-income households benefited, too. More than 85 percent of households with earnings above $25,000 paid less in total taxes than comparable households in 1980. "

The Times notes that if a deal is not struck by year’s end, "a wide range of federal tax cuts passed since 2000 will expire and taxes will rise for roughly 90 percent of Americans".  But as I noted before, THIS is what the average classes must not fear - indeed, they must embrace the fiscal cliff, e.g.    The true fact, is that it's the Romney-backing plutocrats - the very ones who lost the election and now want to prevail by the back door-  who are terrified - because their free lunch Bush era tax cuts will finally end.

What this means to me, as an old class warrior,  is that WE - among the putative 98%- must take this temporary fiscal pain on in order to let the plutocrats PAY....their fair share in perpetuity. We cannot and must not allow ourselves to be used as willing pawns to trade fleeting protection from current minor tax increases for major sacrifice of future social benefits, especially Medicare (without which I'd have been dead or in the poor house now) .

We must face the fact, harsh though it might be, that the Repukes will never EVER of their own agree to the minor hike in tax rates that Obama and the Dems have proposed (merely going back to the Clinton era rates.)  We see this intransigence played out day after day, with ever more diminishing "optimism" - according to the blow dried. Newsflash: I NEVER had any such faux optimism anyway because I knew that despite all the early back slapping between Obama and Boehner that he'd never agree to a real tax rate hike. Only the phoney -baloney nonsense of closing loopholes and deductions, and then - with no enforcement provisions. And in return for which, WE - the side that won- would be expected to undergo major entitlement reform!

Fortunately, many ordinary citizens do get it, such as a commentator in the New York Times, following the tax article, who wrote:

"The idea that you trade-off Social Security and Medicare to get a small tax increase on the wealthy and super wealthy should be treated as a sick joke. Here's the problem, however: somewhere in the bowels of right wing sponsored "think tanks", it was discovered that you can make any demand, repeat it endlessly and sooner or later it gets treated as a reasonable idea. Why? Because the Democrats went intellectually bankrupt several decades ago. They lost their way, forgot their purpose and failed to articulate an updated version of why they exist. Into this vacuum, spurious ideas fly like the 50,000 bats out from underneath the Congress.

One basic tenet of American fairness should be better pay for all workers. "Because you, plutocrats, don't pay the workers for their contribution, we, Democrats, insist that you not touch Social Security. Got it?".
-  St. bridge in Austin.

 These are sentiments I share 100% but now many begin to wonder if Obama does, or if he's starting to crack under the media fiscal cliff hysteria. Many are saying "It's deja vu all over again". According to the Wall Street Journal (which got the information from GOP leaders), the President’s opening bid to Republicans is:

— $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenues over the next decade, from limiting tax deductions on the wealthy and raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 (although those rates don’t have to rise as high as the top marginal rates under Bill Clinton)

— $50 billion in added economic stimulus next year

— A one-year postponement of pending spending cuts in defense and domestic programs

— $400 billion in savings over the decade from Medicare and other entitlement programs (the same number contained in the President’s 2013 budget proposal, submitted before the election).

Here's where the bear sits with the buckwheat:  The Obama administration, by signaling its willingness not to raise top rates as high as they were under Clinton  (which was not that much anyway - 39.6%) and to cut some $400 billion from projected increases in Medicare and other entitlement spending,  has ceded important ground. In fact, instead of hanging tough it's sent up the first hint of a white flag of surrender - or at least it's been interpreted by the Repukes that way, which is why they're more dug in than ever! (And as Richard Wolfe noted on Ed Schultz last night, those Medicare cuts WILL inflict pain and on ordinary beneficiaries. It means greater costs will be passed on by insurers, and fewer conditions will be covered)

Given this hint of white flag, Republicans now obviously want much, much more.

Most of us on the extreme Left  (which was moderate-Left  45 years ago) were afraid of Obama getting weak-kneed as the media pressure continued. We saw how he collapsed with the debt ceiling war last year and it left us sick to our guts. But we believed in him enough to get him re-elected hoping a solid win would introduce much needed testosterone into his system and turn him into a true class warrior, a fighter, as opposed to a squeamish Centrist wimp. We do hope that he concedes no more to the Reep imps and stands his ground. Elections do have consequences, besides which 60% of citizens in a recent poll want taxes increased on the highest earners, vs. 37% who don't. Meanwhile, only 44% approve of the Reeps phoney revenue increases by closing off deductions, loopholes. So why go the route of offending the majority? Let the 'pukes do that!

Let me quote Paul Krugman from his piece in today's NY Times:

"The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what? "

I totally agree, and do hope most readers do as well. Meanwhile, Obama needs to understand we didn't go "all in" with him just to see him cave once more to the Repuke turds! Those of us who were "all in" during the election, are now ALL IN again for the class war and going OVER the fiscal cliff if the Reeps don't come to their senses. We'd rather THAT than a bad, half-assed deal not in the interest of the middle class, or the working class!

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