Posts Tagged ‘fiscal cliff’

A New Year’s Eve Like no Other

December 31, 2012

It’s Monday, which means I should do a post because I said I would try to do one each Monday. I didn’t make it last Monday because frankly I didn’t feel like it. Bronchitis. I’m a little better now so I’ll see what I can do. .

This is truly an interesting New Year’s Eve.  I don’t recall one in which so much is at stake because of the deadline on ending of the Bush tax cuts and the beginning of across-the- board spending cuts. No doubt, just about everyone knows all this because it has been on all of the news channels endlessly.

Those who will be hurt the most by the looming tax hikes and spending cuts, are already those who are hurting the most, the vast majority of the American middle class which has seen its income stagnate for years. Those who are doing quite well will feel the tax bite and, some may even see their investments erode as government spending cuts wipe out some government contracts for goods and services, but the negative effect on them will probably be minor.. The military-industrial complex also will feel the pinch as the defense budget is cut. That is  certainly of concern to our area which depends heavily on defense department spending.

Still, if  you watch the Times Square News Year’s Eve celebration as the ball drops signifying the end of the 2012 and the beginning of 2013, you will see dancing in the streets, cheering, bands playing, singers singing, people kissing, and there will be a general feeling of well-being and happiness in the air. That American spirit, which continues in spite of all that is going on in Washington. is what offers hope, is what eventually gets us through tough times. It has before and it will again. Perhaps at election time it will even provide us with a new Congress, one that will regain the confidence of the American people..

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We Are Definitely Going Over the Fiscal Cliff

November 29, 2012

Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo Chief Economist (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

 

That’s what Mark Vitner told members of the Rotary Club of Columbus. He is the Chief Economist for Wells Fargo.  He says if we define going over the fiscal cliff as an increase in taxes and less government spending, it’s definitely going to happen. 

He doesn’t think, however, that it will throw us  into a depression, and, after the speech, he told me that the bottom line is that things will get better next year economically, but not by much.  The big problem,he says, is uncertainty. Businesses don’t expand and hire more people when there is uncertainty.

From what I have been reading and hearing on television, that uncertainty will only come close to ending when the president and Congress reach a compromise over how to raise revenues and cut spending. The president wants Congress to go ahead and vote to let the Bush tax cuts stay in force for those making less than $250 thousand a year.  The rest of the details, such as what to do about increasing taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent, can be worked out later.

A lot, certainly not all, of wealthy Americans are agreeable about paying more taxes.  A prime example is billionaire Warren Buffet. He thinks they should be raised on Americans making between  $500 thousand and $1 million a year. 

Republican leadership is sticking by its demand that the tax cuts remain in force for everyone, including the top two percent, but there are now some legislators saying their of oath of office trumps their oath to Grover Norquist , who has turned out to be a very powerful lobbyist indeed.  95 percent of Republicans in Congress signed his no-tax-increases pledge.   

Vitner says that conservatives, even those who would be willing to compromise, fear what would happen to them in their reelection bids if they voted to increase anyone’s taxes.  Going over the cliff maybe what will allow them to compromise. If the tax cuts end, they can then vote for another tax cut, then say they didn’t vote for a tax hike, but a tax cut.     

A lot is at stake in this mess. As you know, programs like Medicare, Social Security, and the military  are involved.   

Who knows what will happen. It’s really hard to get some politicians to put country ahead of party, especially when they are afraid their actions will hurt them at reelection time. . 

Jazz and the Fiscal Cliff

November 12, 2012

They don’t really have anything to  do with one another, but it’s Monday and that means I need a new post since I said I would try to have a new one on Mondays.  Since I can’t seem to settle on one subject, I guess I’ll do a stream of consciousness thing.

The most recent thing that impressed me was the performance of the Atlanta 17 at the Columbus Jazz Society gathering at St. Thomas Episcopal Church yesterday. Wonderful big-band jazz played by Atlanta area businessmen and professionals.  The drummer is a retired chiropractor, for instance,  The crowd, including me, loved it.  The crowd, however should have been larger. I guess the Jazz Society needs better publicity.

The other thing rising to my cognitive surface is what Congress and the president are going to do  about cutting spending and raising taxes.  Like the  guy says, “I don’t want the federal government messing with my Medicare.” I understand somebody really said that.  While we’re at it, I don’t want it messing with my Social Security, either.

I don’t want my taxes going up, either; however, I do want a few things like improved roads, bridges, rapid transit, and schools, and a balanced budget!