BY FRANK HILL
Reprinted from Telemachus.com
No, it wasn’t the 79-yard punt by Duke punter Will Monday in the 2012 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, although that was pretty darned great, you gotta admit.
No, the greatest ‘punt’ of the recent college bowl season was performed collectively in a three-legged kick down the road by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner on New Year’s Eve in Washington, D.C. in the Fiscal Cliff Bowl Sponsored by The AARP, Grover Norquist, and The American People.
We are talking about the ‘deal’ that you are going to hear a lot of bleating and chest-beating about over the next several weeks and months. This is the deal that is supposedly going to ‘avert a recession’ and ‘make the rich pay their fair share!’
If Will Monday’s punt was spectacular, the fiscal cliff ‘punt’ by our elected leaders to kick this problem down the road was even longer and tip-toed along the sidelines even further.
Let’s look at what was accomplished versus what is needed to solve our fiscal dilemma:
1. President Obama has finally achieved his dream of sticking it to the rich and making them pay their ‘fair share’ of the tax burden. Congratulations, Mr. President! You have just guaranteed that this is the last time for the next 20 years that ANY Republican will vote for ANY tax increase.
Why? Simply because the GOP got no spending cuts in return for their vote to raise these taxes! None, nada, zero. In the past, the GOP was at least ‘promised’ a 3-to-1 or 2-to-1 spending cut/tax hike ratio. This time, it was nothing.
The GOP did get a ‘promise’ from President Obama to talk about the $109 billion in sequester cuts two months from now in early March or right about when we will see another fight over the extension of the debt ceiling again.
Who negotiated this deal, Mephistopheles or Faust himself?
Usually, in any deal that involves any pain, both sides have to give equal amounts of skin and certain cherished body parts to complete the compromise. President Obama gets to crow to his crowd that he has finally ‘made the rich pay their fair share’ so he can check that off of his campaign promise list. Warren Buffett will be happy and all the stars and starlets in Hollywood and the Silicon Valley can start paying more taxes since they supported President Obama.
We would love to see any of their tax returns for the next 10 years to see if they actually do pay $1 more in taxes or if they just hire better tax lawyers and accountants to shelter their income, just as they are doing today and have done so for centuries.
Who was the big victor in the deal last night? Thousands of expert financial planners across the nation and the guys who sell complicated insurance products to rich people. With the estate tax at zero for the past two years, they have had very little to do. Now that it is reinstated for estates above $5 million, they will be busy at work starting at 7AM tomorrow morning once the ink is dry on the agreement figuring out ways to.
For those of you who are keeping score at home, this ‘deal’ will:
- Raise revenues by around $600 billion between now and 2022 (maybe);
- Cut zero spending except for a piddling $24 billion (maybe) to pay for the two-month delay in the sequester that was supposed to kick in today and cut $109 billion in defense and domestic spending;
- Raise spending by $30 billion to pay for more unemployment benefits for another year because this economy just will not respond to anything this Administration has proposed or passed; and
- Restore Medicare cuts of $31 billion to pay for doctors to keep seeing Medicare patients which was dishonestly used by the Obama Administration to ‘pay for’ (sic) Obamacare when passed in 2010.
If you can add and subtract unlike the Mensas now in charge of our government in Washington, that means we have raised taxes by $600 billion to arrest the probable increase of $7 trillion+ in new federal debt between now and 2022, plus raised spending by another $37 billion for 2013 alone.
This is ‘fair and balanced’ as President Obama characterized it in a press conference recently? Are you kidding the American people, Mr. President?
If this is not proof that we desperately need new leaders to come out of the private sector to replace all the incumbents in the White House and Congress, we don’t know what else we can tell you.
Of course, we just had the chance to replace this inept President and the American people just sent mostly everyone back to the White House and Congress two months ago.
‘You reap what you sow’ is the old adage from Galatians 6:7. ‘We will reap what we have sown’.
There is only one way to guarantee that no more damage will occur and that federal spending will not increase at about three times the rate of inflation this year: Speaker Boehner should open and then immediately adjourn Congress for the year.
It is worth paying each Member of Congress and the Senate $178,000 for the year and the President $400,000 to do absolutely nothing at this rate. Pass a continuing resolution at last year’s levels and the federal budget will balance by itself in 2017. Honestly. You can look it up on the CBO webpage yourself by looking at their budget projections.
Normally, great Presidents are able to marshal the disparate factions of both parties and both sides of the Capitol to do something great for the nation in times of distress. If the ‘fiscal cliff’ couldn’t force them to act like grown-ups and get something positive done for the people of this nation, what else will?
This is an embarrassing moment for the American democratic republic.
Editor’s Note: Frank Hill is the Director of the Institute for the Public Trust in Charlotte, NC. He is former chief of staff to Congressman Alex McMillan of NC and also served on the staffs of former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole and the House Budget Committee.