Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Notes, Part 1

I tend toward Conservative, as most readers and those who know me are aware. I also try to be balanced. I won't read an article on Fox News and start spouting about the Liberal Media without also reading the same information on CNN. Sometimes it isn't in both places - and that is Liberal Media at work!
Did you know Congress hasn't had a pay raise since 2009? I didn't either. You know what? Neither have a lot of teachers I know, my brother included. And a lot of other workers haven't either. And don't economists now refer to the years from 2000 to 2010 as the "lost decade" since family wealth and buying power essentially stayed stagnant for those ten years (if the families were fortunate)?
President Obama feels badly for Congress and Biden and signed an executive order giving his Vice-President and members of Congress a ½% to 1% raise in salary. Now you could argue that isn't much of a raise, and I'd agree. It bumps Mr. Biden up from $225,521 to $231,900. (I have to comment that I notice he still falls below the "wealthy" definition of Mr. Obama.) I say since the pay raise is so slight - don't give it to them! What has Congress (or Mr. Biden) done to improve the daily living conditions of the people of this country they represent? Not enough for any pay raise is my feeling on the matter. A lot of Congressmen, including Michele Bachmann, feel the same and want Mr. Obama to rescind the order. C'mon, Mr. President… can't you see it just looks bad and is a slap in the face of the American people?

President Obama is back on vacation after working to push through the deal for delaying and modifying the elements of the Fiscal Cliff. He's vacationing in Hawaii, where he was over the holidays. I'm glad he could take some time to help resolve the Fiscal Cliff issue during his vacation. I'm saddened it couldn't be done a lot sooner than the eleventh hour. Oh, well. They even say it where I work: "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done."

And there are weird parts to the new Fiscal Cliff bill, too. Here's the abbreviated list (see the link for more details):
1. $9 billion for "Extension of the Active Financing Exception to Subpart F." Who names these things? Are they designed to make people not want to read them? (Of course they are!) It's tax breaks for big Corporations - that probably don't do what they advertise them to (promote overseas job creation).
2. A rum tax for Puerto Rico (since 1917).
3. Cheaper office space for Goldman Sachs. What? Section 328 of the bill extends tax-exempt financing near the former World Trade Center. That's grand, aimed at rebuilding, but it isn't really helping, is it?
4. Help NASCAR build racetracks. Well, that's not quite fair. It helps anyone build racetracks.
5. Treat coal from Indian lands as an alternative energy source. This also extends tax credits for wind power for one more year, something that has proved a dismal failure so far. But coal? How green is that?
6. Promote plug-in electric scooters. I'll have to read the bill, because maybe this would also work for plug-in gasoline scooters.
7. Repair the railroads. Section 306 of the bill extends a tax credit for railroad maintenance. I really don't mind this one.
8. Subsidize Hollywood films. The films have to be made seventy-five percent in the US and they get a tax break. Good heavens. Drop that one, please.
9. Crack down on tax cheats in prison. It's a tax break for something to do with for-profit prisons and the IRS. I don't get this one.
10. Provide incentives for commuters to take the bus or train. I like this one. Since the economy is tanking, more people will need to take the train or a bus. I might be one of them.

There are some good articles on the Fiscal Cliff, what is and what is not included. I'll start covering them in more detail tomorrow, the next Prime Day.

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