As of this writing there are only 26 days left in the month of December. That means that the USA will drive off the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2012 absent a bipartisan alternative. That’s New Year’s Day, a federal holiday, and as a result, nothing will change on that day.
However, Wednesday, January 2, 2013 is a regular business day. And on THAT day, Americans can expect….nothing different, unless you live on stock trading and dividends. If you do, you might want to take a week-long nap. Why? Because the stock market is psychotic; it overreacts to EVERYTHING, and it will thus overreact by losing 600 points on the first business day of the loud thud caused by the car having been driven over the fiscal cliff.
Considering the short time left to fix this,what is the US House of Representatives doing about this avoidable problem? They’re leaving Washington, D.C. for a long 5-day weekend!!!!
Those people justify this action by claiming that they have no pending legislation to work on. So, according to that view, other than the fiscal cliff, there are absolutely no other problems in the USA that require congressional action.
Even if the idiotic fantasy that nothing else needs attention(except the impending cliff disaster) was true, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives could still care less that Americans are looking to Congress to enter good-faith negotiations with president Barack Obama. They are ignoring the fact that Obama won a second term as president by running on a platform of slightly higher taxes for people making $200,000 a year if single, or a quarter of a million dollars if married. The GOP manta continues to be no tax rate increase solely on the upper 2% of US wage-earners. Instead, they propose that government revenue be raised by limiting tax deductions that potentially would affect every taxpayer, thus shifting part of the tax burden away for the very rich and toward everyone else.
Most republican are aware that they have to compromise to some extent on increasing government revenue, and many of them understand that the president’s re-election victory on the platform of increasing taxes on the upper 2% of American wage-earners was a clear declaration of what a majority of Americans support. But some of these republican congresspeople still don’t care about the wishes of that majority as much as they care about the anti-tax pledge they signed to Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform and the darling of the most extreme right-wing extremists in the GOP and the Tea Party.
Actually driving off the fiscal cliff is akin to driving down a hill which varies from very shallow to steep over a months-long timelime. Besides the initial psychotic reaction of the stock market, which will reverse itself within a day or two anyway, no one will notice any change real until the higher tax withholding from their paychecks kicks in. Even then, while they will pay few percentage points more in payroll (Social Security) taxes, the main notable change will be a higher withholding of income tax. Initially, the average wage-earner will see an increase of $183 a month, or $85 bi-weekly, or $42 a week. Though most (though not all) people will absorb that without major problems, it will definitely piss everyone off. The target of that anger will be the GOP.
The true target of that anger will be the fact that the democratically-controlled US Senate has already passed a bill to make the present tax structure permanent for the American middle class wage-earner making less than $2o0,000 ($250,000 per couple) per year. Despite this, GOP House speaker John Boehner refuses to allow a vote on the bill because he fears that it will pass. That fear comes from the fact that an increasing number of republican congresspeople understand that the American people don’t want to be held hostage to the GOP’s desire to protect the interests of the very wealthy who, after all, finance the GOP’s re-election campaigns. They also realize that the American people will hold the GOP accountable in 2014.
The democrats, on the other hand, realize that the longer this debacle goes on, the worse the GOP will fare. Thus, while the dems would definitely prefer that the bill protecting the 98% of American taxpayers pass the House quickly, they also understand that John Boehner’s preventing that vote, which will drive the USA over the fiscal cliff, will primarily damage the GOP. Realistically, MOST of the GOP also probably realizes that same fact.
The extremists in the GOP, however, either don’t see the danger or they see it but don’t care. Folks such as Grover Norquist, GOP senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina, and the darling of the ultra-extreme-right lunatic fringe Sarah Palin advocate that republicans should stand their ground and grab their guns. They also don’t understand the nature of a democracy, which is that the will of ALL the people should prevail, not just those with the biggest artillery or the most fundamentalist ideology.
Sarah Palin will never understand that. After all, she believes that shooting wolves from a helicopter is the American way.