As the fiscal cliff crisis comes to an end after President Obama made a statement making a deal with congress claiming that taxes would not be raised on middle class families. A sense of both relief and frustration has spread among the public.
Relief that the drama is now over and frustration that in spite of what the Government says taxes will still be raised on Americans.
Much frustration was expressed towards the Republican led House yesterday as many in the GOP were divided on the fiscal cliff deal.
With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor voting against the fiscal cliff compromise that House Speaker John Boehner voted for.
While the rhetoric behind the deal was that it would lower taxes for the middle class the reality is that taxes for almost everyone went up.
The President said in a press conference that, “Under this law, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up.”
But according to the Washington post the only people who got a deal out of the new proposals are the people who make between $200,000 to $500,000 a year.
There is no doubt that the fiscal cliff was the biggest story after the 2012 elections were over with many fears raised about what would happen had a deal not been made.
Using fear tactics to pass a deal is nothing new in politics of course.
A Government employee who works for the State of North Carolina in Raleigh, compared the spectacle of the fiscal cliff to the budget battle that took place in the North Carolina General Assembly in May of 2011.
“When the General Assembly had not come up with a budget, many scare tactics were used to get people to believe that if the State Government had not acted to do anything chaos would ensure.”
Adding that, “Every time you hear the Government talk of cutting state pay or benefits they are usually just saying that to scare people so it will be easier for them to pass something that otherwise would have been very difficult to do.”
The scare tactics used in the General Assembly’s budget battle from 2011 included getting rid of the State Highway Patrol. And making it so State employees would not be able to get a paycheck unless a budget was passed.
While the fear mongering used in the more recent fiscal cliff drama was much more apocalyptic, the results are the same.
There has been much talk of the new deal approved by congress to keep America from going over the fiscal cliff but in fact the deal raises taxes on the poor and lower middle class along with the rich.
During the negotiations there were many who called for cutting entitlement spending on programs such as Social Security.
U.S Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) held a conference call with reporters last month in which she said that, “In order to solve the crisis we have to slow the growth of entitlement programs.”
When Senator Hagan was asked to specify which ones should be cut first she refused to comment, but said, “Something will be done.”
Senator Hagan held another conference with reporters call this morning in which she went after congress for waiting past the 11th hour to find a solution. Saying that, "Working together should not be this hard, we teach our children to work together and we should lead by example."
The North Carolina Senator again brought up entitlement reform saying; “More needs to be done to slow the growth of entitlement programs, while keeping our promise to seniors.”
Meaning that while she is for cutting entitlements she may not be for cutting social security.
In spite of the rhetoric for preserving Social Security many believe that Social Security will be cut soon, and there are also rumors coming from war veterans that the Pentagon has already cut benefits for Vietnam veterans to make room for the Iraq-Afghanistan war veterans returning home.
Doing more with less
One of the key issues facing the military community is the recent budget cuts that have been made to our armed forces, and defense spending.
A source inside the military who spoke with me on the condition of anonymity says that they understand our nation is in a economic crisis.
But they believe that there are other programs that can be cut that won’t be detrimental to our defense. Such as civilian contractors who receive military pension benefits meant for retirees while still working their job.
While the fiscal cliff deal stops the budget cuts to the military from being made for another two months, the human side of the cuts and the disconnect that exists between those in the military and those who make the decisions has widened.
The source goes on to say that, “There is a widening gap between the military and civilian society, Defense Secretary Robert Gates talked of a disconnect, when you are disconnected from the human side of war you see the profit and the military industrial complex and forget that you are sacrificing people’s lives.”
While many feel that the budget cuts should go after wasteful spending inside the Pentagon and that congressional pay should be cut as well.
From a historical point of view paying people who work for the Government a low amount of money has not always been a problem.
Former CIA Director Allen Dulles, who served under President Kennedy. Wrote a book about intelligence gathering that many CIA agents have read called, “The craft of Intelligence.” In that book Dulles points out many historical examples of Governments that did more with less.
Queen Elizabeth was the first example of a ruler to have a modern day CIA.
Dulles writes that Elizabeth’s Chief spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham created the first, “Full fledged professional intelligence service.”
And according to Dulles, "Walsingham paid his agents out of his own pocket and even then he paid them insignificant sums."
In other words, they did more with less and their small budget did not stop them from playing a role in the defeat of the Spanish armada.
Which means that our congress and the pentagon can do more with less as well.
But as the Military source adds, “With more money comes more bureaucracy… what happens is a leader will say we need to address a problem, so let’s create a three letter agency to address the problem. Then millions of dollars are spent on this new agency and they realize that they still don’t know what they are doing, and it’s just a bureaucratic mess with wasted taxpayer dollars. I think this happens on a smaller level all the time.”
So while a deal has been reached on the fiscal cliff to keep America’s economy afloat for a short time, a large amount of cynicism remains about the future of our nation.
As the next battle will take place in two months over defense spending, some believe that the deal prolongs the problem instead of solving it.