Posted by: Donna
Happy New Year everyone! If you were a dork like I am, you spent New Year’s Eve following the “fiscal cliff” situation. For a good rundown on what was in the deal, read Suzy Khimm’s summary. All in all the deal isn’t bad: Rich people keep a lot of their Bush tax cuts but social safety net programs are safe (for now) and unemployed people will get their extension of benefits. The bottom line is that it adds $4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade (h/t Talking Points Memo for the PDF). The payroll tax holiday expires, as it should because it was a stupid idea, but unfortunately that means paychecks are going to take a noticeable hit. (At some point we’re going to have to acknowledge that we cannot use the tax code to mitigate lack of wage increases forever but that’s a topic for another day.)
I am reminded of 2010, when in the lame duck session President Obama struck a deal with the GOP majority in Congress to extend all the Bush tax cuts in exchange for unemployment benefits and some other things. I was okay with that deal because of the unemployment extension and because it protected middle and working class people from a big tax hike in the middle of a recession. So it was worth it to let the rich keep their tax cuts. But I distinctly remember thinking at the time, “okay, but I do NOT want to hear about ‘the deficit’ after this from any of you!” Ha ha! Silly me, as soon as the new year rung in a wave of amnesia struck the Beltway and everyone there, including the President, became obsessed with “the deficit”. Since then we’ve had debt ceilings and Grand Bargains of Granny Starving hanging over us and somehow the cranky old man rantings of Alan freaking Simpson are treated as credible wisdom. Ugh.
So once again, foolishly, I implore the denizens of the Beltway Bubble to please remember that they just increased the deficit by 4 trillion dollars to appease rich people and to kindly knock it off with the constant clamoring to take grocery money from Grandma. Also, I would find it delightful if certain prominent Democrats *cough*BillClinton*cough* would cease lending their names to Pete Peterson crapola like Fix The Debt. Alas, I don’t expect that to happen. Soon as this deficit-busting deal is sealed the emphasis will, once again, be on the pressing need to implement austerity on the poorest and most vulnerable Americans because of “the deficit”. But I will remember, and be asking anyone who blathers about “the deficit” if they were on record as supporting going over the cliff and rescinding all the Bush tax cuts, since that would have cut “the deficit” by $5 trillion dollars.
If you remember one thing about politics in 2013 it should be this: No one really cares about the deficit. Preach it, Chris Hayes.
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