If Speaker Boehner is unable to marshal the votes in the House of Representatives (thus far he cannot) to pass any kind of legislation that Majority Leader Reid finds acceptable to bring to a vote in the Senate – no matter what’s included in the bill(s) – President Obama has nothing to execute into law, come January 1, 2013.
That means we all fall off this “fiscal cliff” which nobody seems to really understand but about which almost everybody has an opinion.
I’m surprised that the game of fiscal “chicken” has gone on this long. It is in nobody’s interest in Congress or in the White House to allow sequestration of funds to automatically cut the budgets of everyone’s sacred cow programs and departments.
Not only will the Department of Defense have its budget cut but the cuts will hurt: Senators and Congresspersons with large military plants in their districts will hear about it from their donors when contracts are cancelled.
Discretionary spending (federal spending other than Medicare and Social Security) will see an equally deep slice out of its budgetary pie. So, elected representatives with – say – large agricultural constituencies, or big research institutions, or large areas of land set aside as National Parks and Monuments…they are also going to get an earful of complaints.
The other part of the issue is the expiration of various tax cuts and credits that took effect during both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration. When they expire, we’ll all pay the same tax rates we did when Bill Clinton was president. I don’t think that’s terribly scary since I’ve already been there and done that.
What we, the ordinary taxpaying citizens, will see immediately will be a few dollars less in our take-home pay from every paycheck. That is due to the expiration of the payroll tax holiday, enacted as part of what the Republicans like to call “the Obama stimulus.” I never liked the idea of the payroll tax holiday – it made everybody feel a little better to have a few bucks more while those taxes weren’t going into the U.S. Treasury.
So, assuming Congress disappoints me and the Speaker of the House demonstrates he has lost control of his caucus for good and all: we are about to step off into thin air.
I suppose whether you think we’re stepping off the curb to cross the street or into the abyss, depends upon whether you bought into the apocalyptic rhetoric in the first place.