YAKIMA, Wash., January 5, 2012 — The fiscal cliff has been avoided, or so it seems. The White House and Congress achieved an agreement that is a Pyrrhic victory for the country. As with Pyrrhus, the cost of victory for avoiding the fiscal cliff outweighs the benefits.
The agreement did make it possible for the President to keep his election promise of the wealthy assuming more of the tax burden. Almost eighty percent of the wealthiest already believed they should shoulder more of the tax burden. Why then did the Tea-Party Republicans not allow the President and the Speaker of the House to come to terms?
It is interesting to note that for the Congress to move forward on the bill, both the President and the House Speaker had to remove themselves. Why?
Into the breach stepped Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in the end brought forth the ridiculous bill known as the American Taxpayer Relief Bill of 2012. The bill extends tax relief for the middle class, unemployment payments for the unemployed, and billions in “pork.”
Congress once again kicked the proverbial can down the road. Next month the fighting and arguing will commence once more, and the voters will be subjected to nightly newscasts foretelling economic calamity.
This Curmudgeon’s view is that we spent $6 billion on an election that voted in exactly the same players that for the last fourteen months could not put the welfare of the country ahead of politics. Voters, it’s hard to feel sorry for you. You got what you voted for; live with it.
This month, January, we, as a nation, celebrate two notable events: 1) The Emancipation Proclamation; and, 2) the birth of Martin Luther King. The contribution of these two events to the fabric of our country, and by extension to the world, is inestimable.
This month we inaugurate for the second time our first president of color. He received higher percentage of the popular vote in his re-election bid than any president since President Eisenhower.
Obama is a president who has, time and time again, attempted to bring change to the country by inviting consensus and compromise from both sides of the political aisle. Yet in the end, for the good of the country, he magnanimously stepped aside and let his vice-president find a settlement to the fiscal cliff. Why, in this day and age of enlightenment, did he have to do this? Shame on the radical right. Shame on the Tea Party.
What of Speaker Boehner and the new House members? Why vote him back in? He won re-election as Speaker of the House by three votes. He proved in the last session of Congress he couldn’t control his members. When he tried to float his “Plan B,” he had to drop it because his radical right wouldn’t support him.
Has the radical right finally been weakened in the new Congress?
Time will tell us if the radical right has been diminished. Perhaps Grover Norquist and his contract have lost some of its luster and the country can finally start moving ahead in solving its budget issues. We do need to find a way to reduce our spending, but we must also maintain our promises to Social Security and Medicare. We need to maintain an adequate military force to combat our foes. We need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. We need to secure our homeland. We can and we must.
We are the United States of America, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Let’s roll.
Larry Momo writes for both The Washington Times Community Political Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.
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