Like Jenna M., I too am distressed by the lack of congressional intervention at the edge of something truly troubling. The problem is, we’ve been in this so many times before, it feels like routine to have a congress in gridlock minutes before we fall off a ‘fiscal cliff’. Take last year around May, for example, when we hit the deficit ceiling. Congress debated the solution until what felt like minutes before the deadline in August. A similar situation happened in May 2011, and now we find ourselves on the precipice of another fiscal conundrum for the new year of 2013. Congress has until December 31, 2012 to negotiate us out of at least some of our national debt or 98% of American will be paying higher taxes.
Speaker of the House John Boehner claims that the U.S. is in a congressional stalemate and that very little has been accomplished to move us forward. Boehner blames our national debt on Washington’s continued spending and says that the tax increases have only hurt small business owners.
President Obama blames Republicans for “holding the middle class hostage” by their willingness to tax them rather than the wealthy. Obama and the democrats in Congress do not see a stalemate so much as a stubborn Republican party
In any case, the views of the two party leaders are not encouraging when it comes to deciding how to best clamber out of a financial crisis. The fact is, no matter what happens, tax rates will have to increase across the board if we realistically want to lower the national debt. Taxes will not hinder the ‘small businesses’ Boehner refers to and is trying to protect. In reality, it is the wealthy who will be taxed the most. The top bracket of taxes will be raised 35-39.6% for individuals making over $200,000 and households making over $250,000. Meaning, those who can afford to give a little more to help out the ‘greater good’ will be obligated to do so. It is not that wealthy people are being picked on for their money, but it is a matter of fairness; in a time of deep economic trouble everyone needs to sacrifice something. If no sacrifice is made, what is the difference between a recession and normality?
For many, it does not actually feel like we are on a fiscal cliff because very little sacrifice has to be made with all of the money the Fed prints here and there. With money appearing rather than actually being accounted for. In an effort to keep the people (usually the wealthiest) happy, the Republican Party has successfully blocked any tax reform that could put money back in the government. Every citizen should recognize it is worth the financial sacrifice if it means righting our deficit and keeping our external borrowing to a minimum.
Everyday we get closer to the metaphorical ‘fiscal cliff’ that would tax 98% of the population heavily rather than a gradient scale of taxing with the heaviest taxes falling on the wealthiest. Not to mention the tax raise of $1.6 trillion would happen gradually, over a decade, and would cut the national deficit by $4 trillion in that decade. The only thing stopping us from saving ourselves is a stubborn Congress with their wealthy constituents in mind rather than the nation as a whole.