The dustup over the compromise tax bill has been settled; bill passed and signed. The same Republican crew that couldn't bring itself to limit their gift giving to the wealthiest 2% of Americans finds that it suddenly is unable to pop some pennies to help out 9/11 first responders deal with health issues. They also cannot bring themselves to find some dollars for needy child brides, not to mention their ever so pious concern that this a back-door method for funding abortions. At least the Senate Republicans get it regarding the child bride issue even as they stall the 9/11 bill.
Things are such a mess in the House and Senate that once again we have no spending bill for FY 2011. As I understand it, only two of 12 Appropriations bills got introduced. The rest got wrapped up in the omnibus bill that got pulled. So we have a stopgap Continuing Resolution because the Republicans wanted to make a point about earmarks. Never mind that they helped write provisions in the spending bill, including said earmarks. The Republicans are very proud of themselves for their determination to rein in spending. Will they be as determined to rein in the deficit once they realize that some precious tax credits and deductions need to go 'buh bye'? Boehner wants to drop spending to FY 2008 levels, and good luck with that buddy.
This is what we will be seeing over the next two years. Presents for the wealthy and powerful under the guise that they will make the investments to power the economy forward. Hasn't happened over the past two years when those cuts were in place. What makes these fools believe it's going to happen in the next two? Are people so far into denial, or just plain stupid, they actually believe this tax structure is only for two years? Trust me, in two years they will be back at the trough for another extension or, better, permanency. I want whatever they are smoking.
At best we have a lethargic economy, with a DJIA moving on the backs of commodities (gold, copper, oil, etc.). In November we saw all of 39,000 new jobs created. The tax bill that just passed will extend jobless benefits to 99 weeks only for those who have not yet reached the 99 week limit. The number of 99ers was estimated at 4+Million in June, and estimated to reach 7+M by November. The number is fluid as no one knows what happens to these folks, who are exhausting everything to stay afloat. No amount of whining about how the unemployed should work harder at getting employed, or that this is all the fault of (insert favorite scapegoat here) will change the fact that the jobs are not forthcoming. Add to that the fact that the Boomers are not running for the retirement exits and I have no expectation that the unemployment figures will improve all that much.
The Simpson-Bowles Commission points up the difficult choices in front of us to get the deficit down, without considering the impact of the tax bill. Does our Congress, Senate, and White House have what it takes to start cutting the deficit and do so fairly? Or will the burden continue to fall on those who are still employed, but lack the wealth and power to insulate themselves from the fallout?
The Grinches are here. Enjoy this Christmas. You may be feeling differently next year.