By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.
According to an unreliable source, today Bo the white house water dog was seen enjoying a doggy Christmas treat prepared by a white house chef. In another building, not far from the white house, your United States congress and senate stand polarized and divided.
Our political process has been reduced to a daily reproduction of Broadway’s famous musical “West Side Story”. I’ll let you decide who’s playing the role of Maria. For those who are repulsed by musicals, I can compare the current political climate created by the republicans and democrats to something similar to a pep rally filled with rival gang members in attendance. If that analogy holds negative connotations, I apologize; my intentions are only to express literary emotion. I would have just compared them both to Zack Morris and A.C. Slater, but even Zack and Slater, at times, were able to find common ground and mutual respect for the greater good of Kelly Kapowski… I digress.
The blue and red factions were divided into even more fractions and splinters with this week’s introduction of President Barack Obama’s plan for the two year extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. While details of the plan echoed through the grapevine, democrats and republicans voiced their separate approvals and disapprovals. Progressive democrats, whose hearts were ready for a no-go on the Tax Cuts, were outraged by the amount of compromise the Obama plan offered towards those in favor of a Bush Tax Cut extension.
Not satisfied by the compromise, some republicans believe the lowering of the estate tax, included in the deal, was not sufficient but took comfort in knowing, without the passage of “Obama’s Bush-Tax Deal”, the estate tax would be subject to a substantial increase under current law. Seemingly satisfied and remaining en conclave, the republicans stand mute refusing to advertise or applaud President Obama’s voluntary gesture of diplomacy and bi-partisanship.
With news of the compromise spreading, the Democratic Party’s reaction, as a whole, remains a challenge to grasp. Quick reacting progressives lashed out on the cable news airwaves. The word filibuster roared from the mouth of independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucus’ with the democrats. Sanders claimed the tax deal to be a moral outrage.
Some congressional democrats felt as if they had been left out of the process of forming “the deal”. Other democrats could not fathom the idea of “giving-in” to an extension of tax cuts meant for the wealthiest of Americans in our present economy. I can see and understand the logic that lies in that notion, but alas, I am not an elected congressman. As the calm, cool, and collected republicans sat in their offices, in the hallways of our nation’s capital, the fabric of the Democratic Party was ripping at the seams.
Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont quickly produced letter documenting his disapproval of “the deal” citing it to be fiscally irresponsible. The letter included 20 signatures of like-minded congressional representatives, presumably democrats. Referring to the democratic caucus, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated, “So far the response has not been very good. We have some unease.” Translated from Speaker Pelosi’s calm demeanor, this of course means the proverbial political poo-poo has hit the fan. Only the Democratic Party’s fan, the republican fan is doing just fine.
In the midst of all the political blowback, commentary, and billions of dollars of monetary figures being thrown into the conversation, one can find it a tough task to figure out the brass-tax of what is actually included in the Presidents “Tax Deal” that has caused such political turmoil.
- 56 Billion Dollars for Job-Less benefits (a 13 month extension)
- 300 Billion for Middle Class Tax Cuts (under $250,000)
- 130 Billion for Tax Cuts for the Rich & Wealthy including Estate Tax rate changes
- 120 Billion for Pay-Roll Tax Cut
- 40 Billion for Tax Extenders; (Earned Income Tax Credit, Education Tax Credits)
- An added but not definitely stated amount for a Tax Break to help businesses invest in 2011-2012
As democrats peruse and ponder over these figures they will slowly realize they find solace in the democratic areas of the deal and simply disagree with the republican areas of the deal. Then these congressional democrats will wake and find themselves in a republican house majority. I can sincerely state that I would have preferred these democrats to have figured this out somewhere around last November or even used the thought of losing their congressional majority as a motivation to have this important debate before the mid-term elections and not have saved it to be discussed at the end of the year while most of us Americans are already too busy giving our hard earned money, hand over fist, to our country’s major corporations in celebration of Jesus’ birth. That is just politically inconsiderate.
There is good in this potential “Tax Deal” and also within its parameters there is bad. Just like any potential bill being passed into law there is much room for debate. Unfortunately our leaders have chosen to spend 2010 fighting not for the betterment of the common man and woman, but rather concentrating their energy on a battle for political party “lines in the sand” and waging ridiculously early bets on the 2012 elections. In reality with only two political parties, whether republican or democrat, I’d say both their chances for re-election are great.
Unfortunately the truth is, everyone saw this coming from miles away months ago, at least everyone who holds public office in our nation’s capital. No politician wanted to touch this subject before the mid-term elections. Who would dare stand up and voice their sound and just moral and ethical beliefs in order to get elected? The previous proposed rhetorical question is the definition of sarcasm. I will remember 2010 as the year bureaucracy was finally mastered and was severely taken advantage of by both the republican and democratic parties.
The republicans in office used the American people’s system of government’s rules and procedures to scrutinize, downplay, downsize, hold-up, slow down, and reject any document or legislation that held the signature our duly elected president of these United States. The democrats in office refused to bring action towards the very issues on which they had been elected to solve. I am also inclined to mention the American voters gave democrats a house majority also, just in case they had trouble fighting for the well-being of the common man and woman. The democrats “year of playing it safe” in order to stay in office backfired terribly. The mid-term elections left their ranks broken and tattered. Some democrats stand ready for action but most seem visually and physically exhausted from double-talk and double-play of 2010. Whatever that means?
The Health care debate swallowed up the year’s political discourse. That and of course the whole, “Barack Obama is a Socialist Hitler-like Dictator” stuff. Combine that with mid-term elections and you’ve got a recipe for a huge pot of steaming nothing. The American people let the pot cook for a year, unattended, and we expected upon arrival a bubbling bountiful feast but when we uncovered the pot all we found was hot air.
I believe there is much room for debate on this bill as it presently stands today. 99%’ers, those who suffered job losses and still have not gained employment after reaching the 99 week cut-off period are not included in this proposal’s job-less benefits of $56 Billion dollars. One can argue the validity off a $130 Billion dollar Tax Cut package for the wealthiest of Americans while we stand in the midst of what now can be described as “recession denial”.
Also note the Payroll Tax deduction. In case you are unaware, the payroll tax is what our government uses to pay for our social security. This is the part I’d concentrate on. Lowering the social security tax or payroll tax might put $800 dollars in your pocket this year, if you’re lucky, but it also places less in our social security coffers. One could also argue that by lowering the payroll tax, the American will most likely get accustomed to a low payroll tax. If after a period of time the payroll tax must be reinstated to original levels and the American citizens do not support its reinstatement, some could argue that we don’t need a payroll tax at all and vote to end the payroll tax all together. Someone will then grow old and come to collect their social security and the government will inform them that they have no social security. The citizen will confusingly inquire as to why. The presiding official will then inform the innocent citizen that the pesky payroll taxes they wished not to pay were what funded the social security program. If that happened, a) What a dark day and b) how will we purchase our TV Guide’s and talcum powder?
Let’s be realistic. Republicans were refusing support on jobless benefits months ago. The republicans were refusing to budge on the Bush Tax Cuts months ago. The republicans with their eyes on the dismantling of social security had their eyes on a payroll tax holiday months ago. The democrats, on a daily basis, refused to act as if they held a majority in the house and senate, with a democrat in the oval office as the kicker. Sounds to me like someone dropped the ball; or rather a whole political party dropped the ball. I hope our country and its citizens will eventually realize it is our congress who decides the direction in which our country will lead. It is our congress who decides the pace at which we will travel. As our President attempts to carry out a year’s worth of what should have been congress’ work and duty; I hope we realize that President Barack Obama has basically quickly pieced together economic scraps of this and that from here and there, some republican ideals, some democrat ideals, some notions are detailed and needed, some notions merely hush-money and un-selfish gestures. Our President has in the end, done your congress and your senate’s jobs for them. President Barack Obama has cleaned their rooms and made their beds as best as he can with the time allotted. He’s done this so our congress and senate representatives can feel like they are the only people who are special and are important in our country. It is not our President’s job to stand over congress and make sure they play well together.
It is however his job to protect the American people. If this means stepping in to do the job of a dysfunctional congress, although embarrassing to our political process, so be it. Believe it or not, under severe pressures and “time is of the essence” financial deadlines ignored by our congress, Barack Obama has managed to keep a number of people out of the cold this year. Unfortunately due to the rule of chaos theory, the only people who will experience a raise in taxes due to this proposed plan are the individuals who make less than $20,000 dollars a year and families who make $40,000 dollars a year. I find this disheartening and unallowable. Any democrat, republican, independent, tea party advocate, or human should do whatever they can to make sure our country’s financial mistakes and shortcomings will not be placed on the already worn and tested shoulders of our economically less fortunate. I have faith this issue will receive attention in the amendment phase of this proposed bill that will face a most definite passage into law, given the calmed nerves displayed by the democrats after the storms of emotion had subsided.