W atching politicians posturing until the last minute to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff reminds me of two testosterone-driven teenage males playing chicken in their cars -- really exciting and incredibly stupid.
I guess it was unrealistic to hope that this lame-duck Congress -- and I emphasize the word "lame" -- and President Obama would promptly rise to the occasion and resolve the looming threat to our economy. However, here we are with about two weeks remaining before the effects of automatic spending cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and other stimulus measures begin to kick in, and the politicians are still posturing.
It is looking more likely that negotiations will involve some cuts in programs benefiting the public in exchange for returning the top marginal income tax rate to the level under Clinton.
Unfortunately the political power structure and those pulling the strings behind the scene are not about to consider the People's Budget proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which you can read at http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/budget-for-all/. This plan avoids requiring even more sacrifices from the public -- a public that was hard hit by the extraordinarily costly 2008 financial crimes. For example, millions have lost their homes, seen their retirement accounts reduced and are now without health care insurance due to losing their jobs. The widespread financial fraud also devastated students' college funds.
This Progressive Caucus proposal shrinks the deficit and moves to restore the nation's fiscal health. However it cannot be discussed in so-called polite society because it does not agree with conventional wisdom, that is, it doesn't reduce the benefits from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. Instead it raises revenues by, for example, enacting a financial speculation tax on derivatives and foreign exchange, increasing the highest marginal tax rates, making reasonable cuts military spending, eliminating corporate welfare for fossil fuel companies and creating new jobs through rebuilding our physical and educational infrastructure.
Unfortunately politicians will have another opportunity to play chicken when they consider the federal debt ceiling early in 2013. We can hope that the new Congress will be better, but it is very doubtful that it will be.
It is important that we let Congress and the White House know our positions. I hope you will voice your support for the public insurance programs and for the People's Budget.