Thursday, December 6, 2012
The news media has a current story that dominates every channel and every newspaper. It's the "fiscal cliff" that the country will tumble over at the end of the year, unless... Unless there is "grand bargain" between the Republicans who tried to hold up the government over the debt limit and the Administration that is trying to put the economy on a recovery track. Watching this political theater, with a "super committee" of Congress that failed to make the grand bargain, and the looming disaster intended to force the bargain, would be hugely entertaining, if it wasn't proof that the present Congress is hopeless. Republicans believe that ending Bush's income tax cuts on millionaires (returning them to the tax rates from the Clinton years) is going to somehow keep these rich guys from hiring more workers. Bunk. Workers get jobs when there is more demand for products and services. We've got a Jobs Problem not a Debt Problem. And we've got a broken infrastructure problem. Trains derailing. Bridges collapsing. Pipelines leaking. A shortage of affordable housing. We can put people to work, not by giving rich guys tax breaks, but by giving governments the funds to rebuild roads, bridges, rail lines, and air traffic control. We can convert spending for unneeded weapons into rebuilding this nation's structures, school systems, and public services. We need to learn again how to talk about people in this economy. Folks are rich, and they are poor. Some are in the middle. We have the elite, and we have the down- trodden. Yes, in America. The 99 per cent are not "Middle Class." There is an upper-, upper-middle-, middle-, lower-middle-, and a lower class. Everybody except the upper-class has not been getting ahead for a long time. It's no secret. In the recession that began in 2007 millions have fallen down from their place on this scale. Some losing jobs, many losing their homes, and too many losing hope in a system that has failed them. Now we hear the absurd and cruel suggestion that taking away some of the earned social security payments and some of the Medicare benefits from the elderly is the best way to avoid that made-up fiscal tumble off a cliff. We voted down the presidential candidate with these ideas. Getting the country back to work and out of debt will take some sacrifices. "Shared sacrifice" - from corporate elites, from wealthy heirs, and from ordinary citizens. Let's get on with the job and cut out the silly theater from Congress.