A big coalition of business groups says there must be give-and-take in the negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of massive tax increases and spending cuts. But raising tax rates — a White House priority — is out of the question, the group adds.
The homebuilding industry says it won’t tolerate even a nick in the mortgage interest deduction. It doesn’t matter, industry leaders say, if it’s part of a broad, spread-the-pain package designed to tame the soaring debt.
And there’s no ambiguity in the views of the top lobbying arm for retirees.
“AARP to Washington: No cuts to Medicare and Social Security in last-minute budget deal” the group’s Web site declares. AARP nixes the notion of slowing the cost-of-living formula for Social Security recipients, even if it’s part of a big, bipartisan compromise package. And President Barack Obama should drop his idea of raising Medicare’s eligibility age, AARP adds.
So much for the notion of shared sacrifice as Congress and the White House face a Dec. 31 deadline to craft a far-reaching deficit-reduction plan. If they fail, the government tips over the so-called fiscal cliff, at least for a time. Nearly everyone’s taxes will rise, and federal programs will be whacked. Financial markets might quake, and a new recession could begin, economists say.
In Washington, meanwhile, it’s virtually every group for itself, scrambling to protect 100 percent of each tax break and government payout it now enjoys.
America is split down the middle politically, as the last half dozen presidential races have shown. Aside from a few think tanks and civic-minded groups, there’s almost no talk of splitting the pain among interest groups, populations and professions in a manner that seems inevitable if lawmakers are to achieve the trillions of dollars in deficit-reduction both parties call for.
The old adage, “Don’t tax thee, don’t tax me, tax the man behind the tree” was never more in vogue.
The nation debt currently exceeds $16 TRILLION dollars. (Divide that by 300 million to figure out your share.) We could raise taxes to 90% on every millionaire and billionaire in the country and it wouldn’t even put a dent in the annual deficit.
The problem is bipartisan – neither party is willing to tell the truth to the voters and make the hard choices necessary to fix it. Every candidate for president since John Adams has promised to cut waste, fraud and abuse. Some have actually succeeded, but that’s not enough to fix the mess we’re in.
Bill Clinton is the only president in recent history to run budget surpluses – we actually owed less when he left office than when he went in. Then Bush II and Bush III exploded the national debt.
Nobody wants to get their hair cut. They want somebody else to have to make sacrifices. Obama won reelection by promising to keep the gravy train rolling, so don’t expect fiscal sanity to sweep the nation any time soon.