It’s mourning in America, peeps! Last night we went over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” actually more like a bungee jump because apparently the House is going to vote on the Senate’s bill this morning and (hopefully) pull us back. Oh, goodie.
I’m sitting here enjoying my first cup of coffee of the day and haven’t yet read up on all the details, but it sounds like it’s what they were talking about yesterday: raising taxes on incomes over $400,000 for single filers, $450,000 for families. On hearing the news that $400,000 is now “middle class,” Mr. Beale enthusiastically quipped, “Great! I can’t wait to be upper middle class.” Dude.
Nobody likes this deal but everyone on my TeeVee is telling me that is a sign of “bipartisanship” and good negotiating. Um, bullshit. I’m trying to remember the last time I haggled over the price of something, say a car, and both parties walked away pissed off and angry and called it a win. That would be never. The essence of a good compromise is that all the negotiating parties have something to be happy about. People do not walk away from a successful negotiation pissed off.
Yesterday during the media circus over this deal I saw Democratic Rep. Steve Israel of New York tell us,
I've always believed that $250,000 may make you rich in some parts of the country, but not in places like New York. A higher threshold, I think, is a good compromise.
... to which I say, Fuck you. Don’t live in New York, then. I mean, seriously? This is the Democratic position? Since when do we craft national tax policy to cater to the most privileged extreme? (Don’t answer that.)
I know Rep. Israel was just speaking out on behalf of his constituents, but that attitude really pisses me off. There are very few places in this country where the cost of living is so high that $250,000 is not enough to get by, where people will really suffer if their marginal tax rate goes up a few percent. In fact, please show me the New Yorker who will really, really be hurt by a tax increase at the $250,000+ level. And I mean seriously hurt, not just whining, but will not be able to make it. Where is the person who will have to put off sending their kids to college or put off the knee operation another year or take a second or third job to make up that extra $2,000 or so in taxes? Yes, Rep. Israel, find me that person. Good luck.
It pisses me off that there are Democrats who don't understand the razor's edge on which so many people live these days. Meanwhile, we have the Republicans for whom this is all one giant game. Let's look no further than my own Senator Bob Corker, offering this astonishing butthurt after Obama’s remarks yesterday:
"I know the president has fun heckling Congress. I think he lost probably numbers of votes with what he did."
Guess what, the Senate bill passed 89-8, so that would be a big, fat wrong-o, buckaroo. And oh, did some Republicans get their widdew fee-fees hurt? Awww! Let’s make the entire country pay higher taxes because some pampered millionaires in Congress don’t like getting scolded by the black POTUS. Grow the fuck up.
I realize this is all theater, it's all pandering to the cameras, which is just further proof of our massive institutional failure. Our government simply no longer functions. At this point I’m just throwing up my hands. I honestly don’t know what to do. I despair, people, I really do. The solution, if there is one, lies elsewhere. Somewhere along the way, some forces came into play to cause this institutional failure. We need to find those forces and, like a skilled surgeon, excise them. Remove the tumor, be it the media, lobbyists, corporate personhood, whatever.
Last night Mr. Beale and I saw the excellent documentary Chasing Ice. It’s about climate change, and it’s gorgeous, scary and frustrating. It reminded me that we’ve got some really big issues facing us, globally-speaking. So grow up, already. We all need to stop being such big fat babies about everything because there are some massive problems coming down the pike that make tax cuts for millionaires look so petty. We can't have our government run by a bunch of thumb-suckers -- of either party. The zombie apocalypse is upon us, people, and we simply don't have that luxury. We can't afford posturing and butthurt and ego-stroking.
I didn't intend to be such a downer today. Sorry. And maybe there's a silver lining here. Since we obviously can’t get our own house in order, my advice to the world is: better solve the big stuff without us. Clearly other nations are more rational and intelligent about things like climate change and world hunger and the like; they don’t have the crackpot “end times” yokels dragging their policy machinery back two centuries. The past few years have shown that America does not want to be the grown-up in the room. So please, carry on without us.