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Monday, October 24, 2016

Republicans are using the fiscal cliff to extract payback for all the “gifts” President Obama has given to Americans.

Before Americans have even finished digesting their Thanksgiving turkey, the holiday shopping season will have officially begun. But according to Mitt Romney, Christmas came early for those who voted for Barack Obama. The failed Republican presidential nominee and latter-day Scrooge told donors last week that President Obama had won re-election by “giving targeted groups a big gift.” And what generous stocking-stuffers they were! For the young and the poor, health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. For Hispanics, an executive order halting deportation of the children of undocumented immigrants. For women, free contraception for use in all their filthy lady activities. If Malia and Sasha don’t find a pair of baby unicorns under the White House Christmas tree this year, they have a right to feel jealous.

Romney’s comments met with disapproval from fellow Republicans who hope to have a future in elective office, but the truth is that they reflect an understanding of the American public and its relationship with government that is widely shared among conservatives. Paul Waldman argues that it fits right in with their “makers vs. takers” ideology, the notion that the country is divided between “the brave individualists needing nothing from anyone, and the blood-sucking parasites who rely on government.” But Republicans don’t just want to reset policy to some sort of neutral state where everyone gives and receives his or her fair share (slow down there, Karl Marx). Instead, they seem to view the fiscal cliff as an opportunity to impose austerity measures that would redistribute the gifts to their Nice List and punish those who have been spoiled by Obama’s Socialist Santa.

The fiscal cliff is in fact better described as an “austerity bomb,” a term coined by Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler and echoed by Paul Krugman. Despite what the cliff terminology might suggest, the problem isn’t that the federal deficit is about to explode, but that conservatives who have spent years demanding swift and substantial deficit reduction are about to get exactly what they wanted. If this mix of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts is allowed to take effect, it will carve $560 billion out of the budget next year—so why are deficit scolds suddenly terrified of the consequences? Krugman argues that they’re implicitly conceding that “Keynesians were right all along, that slashing spending and raising taxes on ordinary workers is destructive in a depressed economy, and that we should actually be doing the opposite.”

But are Republicans really worried about the plight of the working man? You wouldn’t know it based on the alternatives they’ve proposed, which involve swapping one set of austerity measures for a slightly different set of austerity measures. Their real concern is what the fiscal cliff will mean for their friends and supporters, not what it will mean for the broader economy. Sure, the poor will take the hit first, as is their lot in life, but taxes will go up on rich people, too! That’s money coming straight out of the 2014 campaign coffers. And what about those poor defense contractors who will suffer from cuts to the Pentagon’s budget? They have mouths to feed, too.

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • nobsartist

    President Obama has the power to bring pain to the Greedy Old Pricks and after 12 years of being screwed by them, we want pain returned.

  • Dems – offer a change in Social Security to age 68 for full retirement in exchange for a change in income calculation to include investment income at the same rate as regular income. Also recommend removing the tax break companies get for off-shoring. Then watch the Republicans blink. That will lead to a lose-lose scenario for them by eliminating two of the most odious tax breaks without officially “raising” any rate.

    • Retirement age now is 66 and that is as high as it needs to go for now. Most of the people retiring now have not worked easy jobs, like sitting at a computer where the hardest work you do is push a button and go get a cup of coffee,they have worked jobs that were physically hard on the body and their bodies are broken down. There are many people dying now at age of 55 and up because of hard physical work and heredity and never have a chance to retire or if they do retire they don’t get to enjoy it very long or have sever health problems and don’t get to enjoy their retirement after working for 50-60 years.The retirement will be going up to 68 in a couple of years and then to 70 a few years later.

  • TZToronto

    Why are entitlements only entitlements if people who receive them actually need them? Don’t the wealthy see (I guess they don’t) that the tax breaks they receive when they invest are entitlements as well? Oh, these tax breaks are available to everyone, it’s true, but only the people who actually have enough money to invest (i.e., they don’t need the money to live) can actually do so in amounts large enough to make a big difference. In addition, wealthy investors (and that includes corporate investors) demand that their investments make money (not unreasonable), but they look only at the balance sheet. They don’t really care whether their investments make money from improved productivity or from labor force reduction or from off-shoring jobs. It’s easier to increase profits by cutting costs than by increasing productivity, so all those brilliant MBA minds running large companies, when they’re not dreaming up ways to destroy the economy, take the easy path to profitability by throwing their employees under the bus–and then they collect their obscene salaries and outrageous bonuses. Far from creating jobs, the wealthy investors effectively force the companies they invest in to fire workers, slash wages and benefits, or get rid of the jobs entirely in favor of much lower labor costs (and no benefits) in third word countries. So how about this: If you invest in a company that sheds more than 3% of payroll and benefits, any income you earn from that investment will be taxed as regular income, not as investment income–and that includes bankruptcies. If the company you invest in decides to move its manufacturing operations to China and, as a result, more than 3% of jobs in that company are lost, then you don’t get any special treatment tax-wise. If the wealthy create jobs through investment, then there should be jobs created, not lost.

  • nobsartist

    I guess the Greedy Old Pricks are upset because it is the end of their party and they are no longer of any consequence but will be responsible for paying the taxes required to eliminate the deficit.

    I guess they are upset because the “chickens are coming home to roost” and they are going to kick the Greedy Old Pricks out of the coop.

  • Basically, the reasoning–if you can *call* it that–of Republicans is that the rich should have all the money because they’re rich.

    The rest of us should apparently vote, then go off and die somewhere out of the damn way.

    • Ed

      No,actually we should work as slaves to make them richer.

    • july860

      And vote republican!

  • The dilemma for fiscal conservatives, considering the beating they took on 11/6, is finding a way to advance traditional Republican policies at a time when a plurality of Americans support the social programs we benefit from. Plans to privatize Social Security, dismantle MEDICARE, gut MEDICAID and repeal Obamacare are doomed on arrival and may result in the GOP becoming almost irrelevant for years to come.
    It would not surprise if they abandon some of the “solutions” they proposed in years past and take a more pragmatic approach to balancing the budget, such as focusing on the elimination of fraud and abuse, eliminating waste, and introducing more effective controls to reduce the burden our social programs represent at a time when most Americans object to higher taxes to pay for what we need and benefit from.
    Obviously, our government can not continue to spend more than what it receives in revenues, and if people remain intent on not paying higher taxes, the only option is to curtail spending. Borrowing is not an option. Since DoD, SS, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, and interest on the debt constitute about 85% of the Federal budget, balancing the budget and reducing the accumulation of debt require cuts in programs critical to our well being. The key is to reduce spending without impacting the ability of our most vulnerable citizens to live with a modicum of dignity.

    • Dominick, Social Security should not be included in the budget. It is suppose to be supported by Social Security taxes. If all the money that Presidents and Congresses have taken from the fund since FDR wrote the first IOU was paid back to the fund, it would be solid for a hundred years or more. If Social Security is being included in the budget that should be considered as money being paid back to the fund from Presidents and Congress has used it as their personal cookie jar. What is the cost of all the perks that members of Congress receive each year, how much money is spent on “fact finding” trips,how much money is spent for supplies, computers, office furniture(especially when new members of Congress take office) how many computers and other equipment is trashed because they need an update in Congress, the White House and all the other departments connected running the Country? To many and these places is where the cost cutting needs to start, like no more printing a 1,000, 000 sheets of paper With the Secretary of State’s name and the state department logo, doing things like this will cut down on millions spent of these things and start the repayment of the debt. General Public can’t afford a new computer or printer every year, government shouldn’t be buying new ones every year.

      • I agree. Social Security is not only self-sufficient it i actually running a surplus! However, if nothing changes our low fertility rate and aging population will make the contributor/beneficiary ratio unsustainable in a decade or so. We must raise the SS contribution cap now to ensure the program remains solvent for decades to come.
        MEDICARE is a different matter. Most of its funding also comes from the taxes we pay to fund that program, but the effects of the 2003 Part D reform and the increases in eligible beneficiaries brought about by baby boomer retirements requires substantial amounts of money from the general fund to keep the program running. The contributions we make throughout our professional lives are not enough to offset the rising cost of medical care in the USA, and asking seniors to pay higher MEDICARE fees than we already pay is unrealistic. I pay $300 a month in MEDICARE fees for my wife and I, and an additional $371 a month for supplemental insurance coverage, plus RX insurance. Something must be done to correct this before the program goes bankrupt.
        Two major problems involve service provider and inurance company fraud and abuse, and the expansion of benefit eligibility to include anyone who claims to have a physical or mental problem. SS and MEDICARE are no longer programs designed to help senior citizens.
        I know young people in their 30s collecting SSI because they are bi-polar, Their ailment does not seem to bother them when they ride their Harleys to the beach or party until the week hours of the morning…
        I know people that live in upper middle class neighborhoods and collect foodstamps, use WIC to shop, and have used MEDICAID to pay for the pre-natal care and delivery of children born out of wedlock by irresponsible parents that spend more time playing video games than working.
        The first thing we should do is weed out all the parasites that are milking the system, and restrict benefits to those who paid into these programs. Our problems go well beyond bureaucracy, we have a societal problem that is so pervasive and extensive that it is destroying the fabric of our social programs and, if allowed to flourish, will undermine our standard of living and security.

  • commserver

    What are tax breaks for the rich powerful? I would call them entitlements when there is one of theirs in office.

  • Romney himself is a crook, all of his off shore money, not paying his taxes what the Republicans want is to make all the money and not pay their fair share of the taxes. The fact is most middle class don’t get food stamps or any kind of entitlement nor do they ask for any and we are the larger group of voters. There might have been an influx in food stamps between 09-11 but as people go back to work that number will drop again.

    • Usage and getting food stamps would be a lot lower if the workers were being paid a decent livable wage instead of minimum wages which doesn’t really allow a single person to buy food, have a roof over their head, clothes on their back and any kind of insurance let along a family of 3 and up.

  • While the little guy and the middle-class get punished, so do their very rich friends, where the money comes from in their next attempt at the White House.

  • Making Social Security payments income-based would help. There is no need for those with one, two or three pensions to collect Social Security payments in addition to their pensions, unless the combined pension amounts are smaller than what Soc. Sec payments would be. Military pensions, government pensions and the like are all generous, usually with medical coverage as part of the package. Why is NO ONE Dem or Rep saying anything remotely like this? Members of Congress or former presidents get huge pensions for very little time in, and get 24/7 protection as well, after they retire or move on to another position. I hear no one actually making the case for practical cuts that don’t include cuts to hurt those who need the benefits the most. Those who have money to invest DO need to be taxed without all the loopholes they use to include the bulk of their investments profits as income. Right now, they get taxed on what they “work” for, not the money they make in profits on investments. Profit from investment should be taxable, too, but I doubt you will hear anything from Republicans or Democrats that would support such a thing, as they are mostly all wealthy now, too. Yes even the Dems in Congress are wealthy. Who are they kidding? They do not consider us people either, only those in business and in Congress and the White House consider themselves actual people.

    • How would you go about making Social Security payments income based? With my Society payment and pension payment I am just above the poverty line , does your idea mean the small amount that my pension is would be deducted from my Social Security check thus putting me below the poverty line?

  • patuxant

    Thank God the fruitcakes who post on here are asleep this morning. Otherwise I might be spinning in my jammies!

  • Mit Romney is a sore loser! He tried to buy the “PRESIDENCY” wasting millions of dollars, even though the people did not want him for president.

  • Eleanor

    All of Romney’s money plus his donors money could not match what the dems spent getting all those “poor” people voting for him. I do not mind helping those who help themselves, but those who feel that they are “owed” their living, college education, etc free stuff is what gripes me. I am now and grew up as the “poor white trash”, but we never asked for a handout.Worked hard, obtained loans to get our college educations, which we repaid. Worked full time going to shool, as our parents did not have the money to provide for the things we needed. It did not hurt me, in fact I had a great work ethic which I have taught my children, we are all well respected productive members of society today. But those who WILL NOT try to better their position in life, and expect the government to take care of their needs are what bothers me so much.
    BESIDES, the election is over, why keep digging up bones. Pointing fingers at Romney, who has no influence/say in our lives is a lost cause. You speak of sore losers, if the dems would just go on with their lives instead of blaming others we would be a better society today.

    • jstsyn

      Those that want to draw and live on welfare are actually few in the big picture. Too many can’t find work through no fault of their own and are now ridiculed for being unemployed and in need of help. Turning countryman against countryman is what the likes of the republican party is doing. Plenty want to work who can’t due to outsourcing and corporate raiders. Any drawing public assistance is a drop in the bucket compared to what the banks and wall street are stealing and getting away with while idiots are blaming the few that need help. Wages are depressed, unions busted, and the no party wanting to end Medicare, Social Security, and medicaid. The biggest share of Americans said no to the B.S. from the republican party. If they hate the country that gave them the opportunity to serve their countrymen they should leave.

  • Eleanor

    Remember, while everyone is accusing the Republicans of being rich, I think it funny, because most of the Democrats on Capitol Hill are certainly not middleclass, nor is the president. With all their inside trading, secret investments, they have no earthly idea what it is to do an honest days work. This includes so many on both sides. Besides BHO’s dog trainer has a retainer fee of over $100,000, which is more than the average middle class makes in a year. We need to get real people. The Republicans are not the only rich people. I am an old white person, have a mortgage, monthly bills and scrape by on my S.S. and pension. Someone mentioned that S.S. should be cut according to what the pension pays. I would like to see them live on what I draw monthly, then hear them scream.

    • There are rich Democrats in Congress as many as the Republicans maybe a few more. The difference is all the Democrats except for Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia has voted repeatedly to raise their taxes something none of the Republicans have done. Believe or not Warren Buffet the billionaire and over 4o millionaires told Republicans in 2010 and 2011 to raise their taxes,because they had had a lot good years recently and Republicans ignored them.

  • All the republican states want to recede from the union. They want to ruin this country.If they don’t like Obama get out of this country, we voted him as president.

    • ralphkr

      The best part about it, gargray, is that all but one of those states gets more money from the feds than what they pay in federal income tax. I imagine that those states have the same expectation that we had in Alaska after we became a state. Give us independence and set us free of all your federal restrictions and taxes but keep sending us lots and lots and lots of federal dollars or we will go bankrupt. By the way, the husband of Sara Palin is an independent as are the majority of Alaskans but the independents mostly vote Republican. By the way, gargray, the states are not asking for independence but various people starting or endorsing petitions on the White House web site. Once a petition gets 25K signers someone in the White House is supposed consider and answer the petition (whatever it is). The last time I checked the total of signers of the 50 state petitions barely exceeded the number of people who had signed the petition asking Macy’s to dump Trump from their commercials (Macy’s said NO).

  • It’s time for the corporate CEOs who make billions every year in bonuses to pay higher taxes to make life easier for the rest of us who struggle just to pay our bills and keep food on the table.

  • onedonewong

    What a joke…For some reason Libs just don’t get it we don’t and have never had a revenue problem we have a Spending Problem. How can any sane individual justify Federal spending almost double since 1997. From $1.7 Trillion to $3.6 Trillion, what have we gotten from all this spending?? More and better roads, stronger defense, better schools???? Nope all we have is federal employees making $130,000 a year and illegals qualifying for welfare, foodstamps, medicaid and SS

  • I realized a long time ago that being conservative or Republican meant being selfish and unfeeling toward the people that they deem unworthy. The Party definitely has a narrow view of the have nots. They claim to be religious according to their platform, yet they behave and think in a manner that is not deemed as being religious. Introspection is needed by the Party as well as the Party goers.

  • jeromekjerome

    I think you are fundamentally misreading the situation. Yes, we will go over the fiscal cliff. But Obama will direct the IRS to delay publication of the new tax withholding tables pending the new “Obama Tax Cuts.” The poor won’t take a hit, at least not very soon.

    Well, actually they will take a little hit on the Social Security tax holiday expiration but that’s not very substantial.