I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was sure relieved to start the new year knowing we hadn’t fallen off of the “Fiscal Cliff”. For months we heard about what a complete catastrophe it would be if all of the various expiring benefits truly ended, how it would send us into yet another recession.
But our elected officials, who spent most of the time leading up to the final vote preening in front of any camera that they could find, in a typical last minute rally, saved us from going over that cliff. Both sides were less than thrilled with the result, and the fiscal battles were far from over, but the economy was protected and, more importantly, the middle class didn’t see their taxes go up.
Excuse me? Did you honestly just say that middle class taxes didn’t go up?
As most of you are aware by now, one of the provisions that was allowed to expire was the temporary payroll tax cut that was originally passed in 2001, then extended in 2012. It took the Social Security tax rate from 6.2% down to 4.2%, and we were all assured it would have no impact on future benefits, a promise I’m sure we all take seriously.
Well, that cut was allowed to expire on January 1st.
Thankfully though, we were able to negotiate the top level impact from the original proposal of all income over $250,000 to all income over $400,000. So after all the posturing and boasting by each party about how their plan best protects the middle class, in the end it was simply a load of crap to allow them to pass along extended benefits to those whose money buys more influence.
In the end, the neoliberal policies continue to assure that the plutocrats basking in this new gilded age will continue to have their golden calf while the real economy continues to slug along with marginal growth offset by either speculator driven increases in the cost of basic commodities or by price fixing by the monopolistic capitalist corporations that dictate the real winners and losers.
Again I will argue that in this latest bait and switch, it is the liberals who most disappoint. Republicans make absolutely no apologies for their steadfast protection of the wealthiest among us, continuing to espouse the time proven false nonsense that their benefit benefits all. But Democrats, and especially liberals, stand in front of the cameras and preach how they are there to fight for the working class, those who have seen their “portfolios” crumble under the weight of the grifters who gambled away our economy only to come to us with their hands out so they could start gambling again.
But time and time again, they “negotiate” to sell us out as well, cowering to the almighty campaign dollar. And somehow they emerge from their pathetic failures telling us how they protected us from the other side. What other side?
Republicans have stated very clearly that they are willing to both default on our debt and shut the government down, which will delay social security checks, payments to veterans and active military members, and bring to a grinding halt funding that allows states to run programs for the poor and disenfranchised. They will do this unless the Democrats bow once again, and allow them to propose arcane spending cuts, which will cut Social Security benefits, reduce welfare and Medicaid programs that are one of the few thing propping up the working poor in this country.
Their proposals will create an even wider income inequality, which history has clearly shown is a precursor to financial collapse. But do you hear these facts illustrated each night on the news? Either our elected officials are to incompetent to read and comprehend the lessons in global history, or they simply don’t care, assuming they will be on a yacht sailing toward the next country with the resources to exploit for their gain.
The wealth of a nation is not measured by how many billionaires it has, but how the lowest among them live and the opportunity they have to obtain quality education and gainful employment. That standard continues to go down, and it is simply not because the working poor are lazy, shiftless burdens on the rest of us. It is because they have found themselves competing not just against each other, but against policy and those elected to protect them from predators and provide the possibility of opportunity.
The Fiscal Cliff may have been averted, but the working class was once again nudged closer to the edge for the sake of the wealthy.