In the hour before 10:59 p.m. on Nov. 28, 2012, millions of Americans (including me) were clutching Powerball tickets, waiting for the drawing and dreaming of what to do with the $580-million first prize (less about 35% in taxes) – or even the second prize of a mere million bucks.
By the way, the winning numbers were: 5, 23, 16, 22, 29 – and the Powerball number: 6.
As we waited for those balls to drop and the winning numbers to be announced, very few of us thought – much less took time to worry about – the fiscal cliff; except perhaps for the one we prayed we could climb atop and look out from, after winning the kind of wealth that removes so much weight from one’s shoulders that flying right over any and all economic obstacles suddenly seems possible.
Now that we know there were two jackpot-winning tickets sold, but not to us, we can tell ourselves that our turn in the winner’s circle may simply be yet to come. Lady Luck may still shine on us someday, if we keep the faith and keep playing the game.
Which brings us back to that fiscal cliff story that’s getting so much media attention these days, without exactly capturing the imagination of average folks the way that say, Powerball does.
Which is perfectly understandable, given that the fiscal cliff story has been created, and covered as an economic and political war of wills that underlines the dual craziness of our out-of-balance tax system and gridlock-gripped government. And many of us are just exhausted by and fed up with all that. We thought maybe it would get a little better after the recent election.
But here’s the thing.
If you’re a member of a working family, a proud part of the middle class, then your taxes are going to go up by more than $2,000 next year, and you may also lose your tax deduction for home mortgage interest payments – if you don’t take a ticket and stake your claim in this fiscal cliff game, and fast.
Because the Republican Party is taking a Powerball approach to your family’s future.
Represented in Florida by organizations like the Chamber Of Commerce and by politicians like U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican Party is spinning stories about how they can’t compromise with President Obama and save you from that tax hike and other economic pain – unless the top 2-percent of highest-income Americans are guaranteed they won’t pay higher taxes either.
That means they’re leaving you with Powerball as your best chance of getting a little closer to the top 2-percent of wealthiest Americans, especially in states like Florida. That means the GOP is first and foremost committed to protecting and growing the wealth of those who don’t have to clutch Powerball tickets and pray as the clock ticks down to another drawing, and more disappointment.
Republicans and conservatives are amazingly still talking about these richest people as “job creators”, even though all the evidence is in and it all points to that being untrue. By and large, the more money these folks get to keep, the more they keep it out of the general economy. Period.
Evidence also indicates that the Republican Party has manufactured the fiscal cliff into a “crisis”, in order to once again win one for the wealthiest among us – just like they did with their manipulated and largely manufactured “debt ceiling crisis” last year.
If we working folks do nothing to take a stand on this, then things like tax fairness, deficit reduction, a strengthened middle class and a stable, equitable economy – all are about as likely as happening anytime soon as you or I hitting the next Powerball jackpot.
Without going into all the details of how and why this is all playing out (details you can delve into by reading this) – what matters most in these coming weeks before Christmas is that all working, middle class Americans in Florida and elsewhere flood their congressional representatives with phone calls and emails; letting them know we will not be treated like perpetual Powerball losers too stupid to know the difference between our own gambling with lottery tickets, and our elected officials gambling with the economic future of our families.