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A New Comedy Act

It’s only the first week of the New Year, and we already know who the top comedy act is in the nation – our Congress and President, the President being the straight man. 

All the news programs are talking about what is in the legislation passed earlier in the week, who won and who lost. Well, we all lost. How in the world did our leaders in Washington, D.C. let the whole process get to a point that they had to come up with a last minute decision? We hear the Senate only had three minutes to read the 154-page bill and budget score before voting. We know everyone probably knew what was in the bill, but there was no debate on the Senate floor, and once Congress passed the bill, the President left town to finish his vacation in Hawaii before signing it. How is that for priorities? 

The national debate now shouldn’t be about the bill that passed, but the process of how it was written and passed. Congress just passed it so they wouldn’t get blamed for falling off the fiscal cliff or have taxes really going up. The one issue they were all thinking about was, if nothing happened, the price of milk would most likely double and that would affect everyone. Common sense tells us that it is politically correct to tax the top money earners but not deprive children of milk. I understand that, but did we have to go to this extreme? If they had fixed a few points, maybe falling off the cliff wasn’t so bad. It would have sure cut spending, wouldn’t it? In the end, we didn’t fall off the cliff, but there is no doubt we are left dangling, meaning that in a few months we have to do it all again.

The bill passed will, first, keep the price of milk down – that is a good thing. It also raises taxes that top earners pay on dividends, capital gains and inherited estates. The death tax didn’t turn out too bad and needs worked on. The approved bill also permanently stops the alternative minimum tax from raising levies on millions of middle income families, extend expiring jobless benefits and prevent cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. One of the bad parts was it will delay billions in budget wide cuts in defense and domestic programs slated for this year by two months. Overall, the legislation will add nearly $4 trillion to the federal deficits over the next decade. You know, taxing the rich or raising taxes is not going to dig us out of the federal deficit, we have, have to cut federal spending too.

The extension of programs in the 2008 Farm Bill was also included in the bill until the end of the fiscal year 2013. That is just one of many issues that we will have to be deal with. Bigger battles are looming in the next three months, as that is when the government’s legal ability to borrow money will expire and temporary financing for federal agency budgets will expire. Stay tuned for more comedy at our expense.

Dennis