The sky is falling! No, it’s just the Fiscal Cliff
By Paul Noah
The U.S. Congress are once again acting like clowns and proving they’re not worthy of the offices they hold by playing the media to go along with their staged “fiscal cliff” scenario. Hollywood has indeed annexed themselves in Washington, D.C. We no longer elect politicians. We elect actors – most nowadays have their own publicists and makeup artists.
As we hope you’ve noticed over the past year or so, the Dayton City Paper’s debate forum has migrated to focus firstly on local and state issues, secondly on national issues and rarely world issues. We’re the region’s hyper-local weekly magazine and we like it that way. This is precisely why we’ve made sure not to be suckered-in by the media bandwagon called the “fiscal cliff” until now.
Now that the fiasco is over and the dust has settled we’re all asking ourselves, “What the hell just happened?” More importantly, we need to ask ourselves two questions: “What really happened?” and “What didn’t happen?” This week’s debate therefore asks those very questions.
For example, what the “clowns” are making certain we know about are the alleged compromises they’ve sacrificed their New Year holiday to make. The middle class has allegedly been spared. Only those making $400,000 per year and more are the ones who will immediately suffer – so they say. We’re now supposed to endear them all as heroes!
Both Congress and the president are claiming the fiscal cliff has been averted. Really? What I believe they meant to say is “it’s been averted… for now.” Why? Let’s start with the automatic budget cuts that were to begin Jan. 2. All their deal did was to delay these cuts another two months. That’s right. Two months.
In addition to the Fiscal Cliff Resurrection coming in March, the debt limit or “debt ceiling” will return on schedule as well. To follow shortly after will be the unfinished federal budget can that was kicked into this year as a temporary spending plan that runs out around Easter.
Paul Noah can be reached at Publisher@DaytonCityPaper.com
Debate Forum Question of the Week:
The president and Congress claim the Fiscal Cliff has been averted, but is that what really happened? Further, what didn’t happen as a result of Congress’s 11th hour New Year’s Day efforts?
Debate Left: The spin machine has done spun again
By Marianne Stanley
OK, first of all, it’s probably best to start with this: there IS no “Fiscal Cliff.” We have all, both the right and left, been duped … again.
To have a Fiscal Cliff, you would have to have something that endangers you. But we are the sovereign United States of America. We have a “fiat currency.” What is that? It’s money that the federal government creates for itself. We no longer have the gold standard where every dollar must be backed by its value in gold. We abandoned that in 1971. And, unlike other countries whose currencies are tied together and who often must pay their debts in a currency other than their own, the U.S. has always paid in its own dollars. If this all sounds like gobbledygook, it boils down to this: there is no crisis, no true “Fiscal Cliff.”
This fake crisis is created by the powers-that-be (politicians, powerful corporations and the think tanks that are guiding – or rather, misguiding – our policies) as a camouflaged way to get us to accept, without question, their fabricated story that we must cut services to avert catastrophe. Their well-oiled propaganda machinery has successfully pitted us against each other rather than allowing us to see what is really going on – a warrantless, soulless assault on everyday, hard-working, decent Americans.
The only cliff we are being taken over is the societal one – the one that continues to smoothly and slowly move like a boa constrictor, squeezing the life out of America. We are watching the systematic, brick-by-brick dismantling of the classes that built this country through their sweat and hard work. They fell for the American Dream spiel, bought their homes, earned a living, supported their families and built a life, all the while the boa constrictor was eyeing them as a way to fatten itself at their expense.
And THIS is the lie of the so-called Fiscal Cliff … a story of greed framed as a crisis that calls for only those of the most modest means to give until they are bled dry and to believe that they must accept further cuts to government services in order to “cut the deficit.” This is nothing but a contrived story so that we will believe we have to accept even less than what we’re now getting in the way of funding for vital services like education, parks, police and fire services, roads, postal services, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, mental health services, libraries … and the list goes endlessly on.
The bottom line is this – we don’t have a money crisis. The federal deficit is being successfully, though fraudulently, compared to a family’s budget, with the media and government telling us that it is irresponsible and untenable to be in the red. But the federal deficit isn’t a “budget” and it doesn’t work the same way. In fact, a good economist will tell you that the U.S. is financially solvent and “financially sovereign,” which means it’s the issuer of its own currency and thus, by definition, cannot – unlike Greece and other countries – go broke. That’s the reason we had no trouble coming up with the $29 trillion to bail out the criminal financial institutions that tossed millions of good people out of their homes after their jobs had been callously stripped from them by greedy corporations with the help of tax incentives granted by a complicit government.
Yet, for just under $594 billion, our government could set up a Job Guarantee Program that would allow it to offer jobs paying between $15-21 an hour to anyone ready and willing to work, plus $10,000 in benefits for each employee. This would immediately give us 23.4 million new jobs for our sadly unemployed and underemployed countrymen. Argentina successfully instituted this, with each community first identifying its needs and the federal government then giving the money to local non-profits to use for training and job creation.
In reality, the “Fiscal Cliff” is nothing more than a “Fiscal Shakedown.” Read John Kenneth Galbraith’s “The Economics of Innocent Fraud.” Next, move your money to a credit union or community bank. We can no longer afford our own ignorance.
Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing through middle and high school. She can be reached at MarianneStanley@DaytonCityPaper.com.
Debate Right: We went over the Fiscal Cliff … We just haven’t hit the bottom yet
By Dave Landon
I am happy to rejoin the rotation in the Dayton City Paper after a six-month hiatus. For the past six months I have been working for Congressman Steve Austria as his Communications Director. In that position I decided that it would be inappropriate to write my debate forum right column as my views might not always have been in sync with the Congressman. As a result I’ve not been able to participate in the debate for the past six months. I missed writing on some huge issues during that time but I’m delighted to be back at it.
While I’ve not been able to write about the machinations in Congress, I’ve had an up- close and personal view of the gridlock that has afflicted our government. The forum center today seems to lay out a scenario which suggests that it’s one big game … that the whole “Fiscal Cliff” crisis was staged by the two parties. While that is a narrative that some in the media are promoting, it’s a naïve view of what has taken place. This “crisis” was not staged for some 11th-hour heroics by Congress to sweep in and save the day. These two parties couldn’t possibly agree to such a scenario as they are incapable of reaching an agreement on practically anything.
What is happening in Congress is that two polar-opposite views of the role of government have emerged and the width of the chasm between these two political views is vast and sweeping. Republicans view the rapid growth of the federal government and the out-of- control spending associated with it as inherently destructive towards the long-term viability of the nation. Democrats believe in a federal government that is large enough to solve all problems and show no signs of wanting to curtail federal spending. It’s a battle between a “limited-government” political view versus an “expanded-government” political view. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find middle ground.
Let me quickly answer the forum question of the week. It begins with the incorrect premise that the president and congress are claiming the Fiscal Cliff has been averted. While the President and the Senate might argue, in some parallel universe, that the “Fiscal Cliff” was averted; a majority of members of the House, despite voting for the Senate Bill at 11 p.m. on Jan. 2, know beyond all certainly that the crisis has not been averted. They also know to even call it a “down payment” towards a cliff solution is laughable.
What was in this Senate version of the bill to keep us from tumbling into the precipice? Well, there were $605 billion in new revenue, $300 billion in new spending (yes, I said new spending) and not a freaking dollar targeted towards spending cuts. We’ve run up $6 trillion in deficits since Obama took over four years ago. We will have a deficit of over a trillion dollars for this fiscal year. We borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend. The Democrats refuse to address those parts of the budget that are driving the deficit, Medicare and Social Security. This legislation also manages to find millions of dollars for such needy groups as Hollywood, Wall Street banks, NASCAR, and an assortment of green energy businesses. One can certainly see how this bill was a very serious attempt to address the “Fiscal Cliff” issues.
Oh … and by the way … they kick the automatic cuts in the $1.2 trillion sequestration “proverbial can” down the road until March, creating more uncertainty with our military, which is scheduled to receive 50 percent of the cuts when they make up only 17 percent of the discretionary budget. This will devastate Wright-Patterson Air Force Base locally. While every aspect of the federal government should be on the table for spending cuts, our national defense is facing disproportional cuts under sequestration.
As soon as the Senate passed the bill, which theoretically averted the “Fiscal Cliff”, the Senate President, Harry Reid, a true statesman for the ages, told the Senate to pack their bags and get the hell out of DC. That left Speaker Boehner with the option of asking the House to pass the Senate version without any changes, or to take no vote and deal with the issues in the new Congress. I am certain that the mantra from the news media on Jan. 3 would have been: “GOP lets country go over ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ children now starving. Elderly turned out into the snow … film at 11.” Never mind that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 1350 days. Never mind that the House has previously passed several bills addressing the expiring Bush tax cuts and at least four bills dealing with sequestration. Never mind that the House has sent over 30 bi-partisan job creating bills to the Senate, which are sitting untouched on Reid’s desk.
We are in serious trouble and at least 151 Republican members of Congress recognized that fact when they voted against the Senate “Fiscal Cliff” deal. There are solutions to our financial crisis, but they all begin with spending cuts. Raising additional taxes is not the solution because we don’t have a revenue problem. We do continue to have a spending problem. To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, eventually we will run out of other people’s money.
David H. Landon is the former Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. He can be reached at DaveLandon@DaytonCityPaper.com.