Archived Story

We can scale the ‘fiscal cliff’

Published 8:51am Friday, December 7, 2012

This is the month of holidays and budgeting? Talk about odd couples and mismatched interests, what could be more at odds than Ho, Ho, Ho, and cutting grandma’s health care and retirement?

The fiscal cliff will be climbed and mastered before the fateful January tax hikes of multiple kinds, or, politics will effectively destroy or damage the economic recovery. You read it here first.

How might all the complex issues be resolved?

Maybe like this:

First, Obama and Boehner go for the really “big deal,” more likely than some might think because a small solution will not provide any economic security to stimulate growth in an economy that is 70 percent based upon consumer confidence.

So the big deal is the better path and grants a stronger economic picture for growth.

The deal will, and must, increase tax rates on the top 2 percent of earners incomes over $250,000. No one in Washington seriously believes otherwise, protestations non-withstanding. Most likely this top earnings income portion will return to the Clinton era 39.6% rate.

But Republicans, who feel their ox is being gored by any tax concession, will want something in exchange for this great (not so much, really) sacrifice that even the rich no longer object to in principle or fact.

The favorite Republican targets are Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and little could satisfy their desire for “balance” than some gutting of these two popular programs.

Truth is if the richest folks are to pay one cent more in taxes than grandma has to, in Republican thought, work longer, stay healthier and accept income cuts.

The targets are reducing Social Security increases in payments to retirees by tying them to a more conservative metric; raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67; and reducing the funding for Medicaid.

Democrats might accept changing the inflation index to Social Security though they should not hurt seniors this way. Democrats will not concede raising the age for Medicare, for the exposure of seniors to high cost private insurance would be very damaging to those without financial security.

Reduced funding for Medicaid will probably happen, demanding the poorest of Americans pay for the money spent on, for, and by others far better off than themselves.

The temporary reduction in Social Security withholding will end, as it should.

The Alternative Minimum Tax will be booted forward with a temporary fix raising the applicable income minimum.

The sequestered cuts will be reduced as Republicans and Democrats join together to overfund our bloated military. The military budget, about 44% of total worldwide military spending, a federal budget category which has doubled in the last decade, will continue to grow.

Spending cuts will happen, but some will be done the Washington way, like counting the end of war costs as “cuts” in budgeting, and considering smaller budget increases as “savings”. Here Republicans can and should hold the feet of Democrats to the fire to insure real spending cuts are accomplished.

However, cutting programs that provide food or shelter to those that need them should never be on the table nor suggested.

What will not happen that should?

The Social Security contribution ceiling should be raised to $250,000, more than double the current level. This would fully fund the program for an additional 75 years.

Health care costs should finally be addressed aggressively, because they are breaking every budget solution proposed and show no sign of slowing their destructive increases.

The military budget should, over a decade, be cut by at least 25 percent. Won’t happen.

Infrastructure restoration should be funded as a national priority. Highly unlikely.

But under the tree this year, wrapped in something not-so-cheerful will be cuts in basic social contract programs. A gift from our Republican friends.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.


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  • mikehaney

    The student government at the University of California-Berkeley (CAL) passed a resolution last month that would ban Salvation Army bell ringers and their iconic red kettles from campus this Christmas because of the Christian organization’s alleged bias against homosexuality. UC Berkeley is “reviewing” whether or not they will prohibit the Salvation Army from operating on campus this Christmas, after students passed a resolution condemning the charity. The resolution, cleared on November 14, accuses the charity of openly discriminating against homosexuals. Read more:

    posted by Robert Ritchie at 10:00 AM

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    Speaking of a “particular weirdness”. There is a distinct possibility, “gay-marriage” is the height of weirdness. Those who advocate this abnormal union are lacking in care and concern for society in general.

    (Report comment)

  • keta

    state beginning to “criminalize” Christian beliefs

    Oh, shut up. It’s ridiculous to pretend there’s a war on Christianity, a war on Christmas, any of the similar nonsense FOX News spews 24/7. One of their biggest failed attempts to demonize the president was pretending he’s NOT a Christian, but a muslim. A non-Christian couldn’t win a presidential election. Anybody have a problem finding a Christian church to worship in today? The “war on Christianity” is crap republicans trot out when our country recognizes other religions. Millions of Jews, Muslims, etc. are productive, law-abiding American citizens. They’re not Christians – deal with it. They’re not trying to take over, or to de-legitimize Christianity, or to keep anyone else from their own religious practices. It’s a particular weirdness among republicans that they believe gay marriage threatens their own marriages, and the practice of other religions is an insult to theirs, etc. Get over it.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    mikehaney; as a PS: The Republican Party is lacking in it’s care and concern for the average and less than average American. Historically speaking they have been the speaker of the more affluent members of our society. To deny this is to ignore history, and to ignore history is ignorance.

    (Report comment)

    • mikehaney

      Ignorant are the people that keep democrats the majority.
      Ignorant is remaining a registered democrat/socialist.

      (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    mikehaney; Granted, the Democratic Party has it’s weaknesses. All organizations, being made up of human beings have there weaknesses and despotic tendencies including the church, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Protestant. The Democratic Party has been a leader in care and concern for the average and less fortunate members of our country and they continue to be so. At the present time, there is a weakness in they’re resolve and moral fortitude. Reform from within is in order. Would you care to elaborate on the benefits the Republican Party has imparted to the working man and woman? Would you care to comment on the assistance, support and concern the Republican Party has demonstrated in regard to the poorest members of our society?

    (Report comment)

  • mikehaney

    The five stages, as he lists them, are: (1) Stereotyping the targeted group; (2) Vilifying the targeted group for alleged crimes or misconduct; (3) Marginalizing the targeted group’s role in society; (4) Criminalizing the targeted group or its works; (5) Persecuting the targeted group outright.

    According to Msgr. Pope, the stereotyping stage began in the 1960s and 70s when Christians were “caricatured in the media as Bible thumpers, simpletons, as backwards, mentally simple, haters of science, hypocrites, self-righteous, old-fashioned and so forth.”

    But, in his view, the culture has now reached stage 4 with the state beginning to “criminalize” Christian beliefs. “Stages one through four are pretty well in place. One may wish to whistle past the graveyard but it looks like we’re pretty well set for Stage V,” he writes.

    (Report comment)

  • mikehaney

    If the President can undermine organizations that compete with Washington, then he’s well on his way to crowding out charities and letting an ineffective government take over. Of course, this strategy wouldn’t hurt many liberal activist groups, because several of them–including Planned Parenthood, HRC, ACLU, NAACP, and AARP–already receive federal funding!
    Welcome to the democratic socialist party Mick.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    I found the closing comment enlightening, “But under the tree this year, wrapped in something not-so-cheerful will be cuts in basic social contract programs. A gift from our Republican friends.” This is the basic premise of Republican philosophy.

    (Report comment)

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