How we were pushed to the cliff

Sunday January 6, 2013


There is so much we don't know about the recent so-called "fiscal cliff" and the people who jumbled it so badly. The origin of the term has been traced back as far as 1975 when a Dallas Morning News editorial about New York City on the verge of bankruptcy described the situation as being a fiscal cliff and what a mess New York City would be if that happened. Of course, Hurricane Sandy came close to finding out, but that only marks the difference between mankind's stupidity and Mother Nature.

The term "fiscal cliff" became popularized by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last February in reference to what might happen if Congress didn't get its act together on spending cuts and tax increases. The media, which love such catch phrases, picked it up and has been running with it ever since. It fits nicely into almost any size headline and that's why you've been seeing it and hearing it for the past several months.


The mega-billionaires and multi-millionaires who donated to Mitt Romney and the plethora of right-wing organizations got their bit of personal recognition in the press, especially those who never said a word and the others who made dumb remarks about our country and where it might be heading. Leading the list were David and Charles Koch, who get a share of our every gas purchase, Sheldon Adelson, who gets a share of our jackpot endeavors and some of those Texas magnates who attract money as though it were iron filings.

What were the reasons for the long stalemate? Both sides had objectives. The Democrats wanted to increase tax support for government programs, especially health care, while paying down the deficit. The Republicans wanted to maintain the status quo that had been established by former President George W. Bush, lower taxes while fighting two wars and not quite paying for various hurricanes.

The Republicans also wanted to limit women's rights, bust unions, revise Medicare and Social Security downward, allow every man, woman and child to own a gun, especially ones that will not only kill a deer but also cut it up into unusable portions. The Republican Party, however, is no longer just the Republican Party. It has been segmented by the tea party, composed of people who are boiling mad and not ready to cool down. They basically want a Lilliputian government, almost no taxes and tough times for the indigent and the so-called 47 per cent of the people living off government largesse.

John Boehner is the leader of the House Republicans and Mitch McConnell is the minority leader of Senate Republicans. One of the political problems in the Senate is that in 1987 Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., had a brief affair with Sen. McConnell's attractive young wife, Sherill, and the two men have been at loggerheads ever since. Reid was known as a hellion in his earlier days and the country has been paying for his transgressions ever since. However, he is still married to his ailing first wife, the mother of his five children, while Boehner is on his second go-round.


Now you might ask what all this has to do with the "fiscal cliff" but of course it does. The Republicans, especially their donors, want to destroy the unions of this nation, cut Medicare and Social Security down to poverty levels, and have almost no regulations controlling their business activities whether they be to the public detriment or not. These very, very rich people who will never experience economic setbacks don't want the rest of us to get too uppity. The Democrats, on the other hand, are the only ones to offer us ordinary citizens hope of a brighter future even while they feather their own nests.

When you stop to consider what all these politicians have been doing to us over the years, while they have been going through their ritual dances in Washington, you tend to offer a fervent plague on both their houses. But then I remember that David and Charles Koch and most of their confreres are bastions of the Republican Party, and the first syllable of the word bastions echoes in my mind.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle


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