Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Attack of the Fiscal Cliff Elf

 How low can you go in the name of a Grand Bargain with the Grandees and a betrayal of the people who voted you back into office? President Obama will perform an inverse Scrooge with one and a half twists this week as he pays a visit to some jolly toymakers in Pennsylvania. Far from spreading the cheer, though, he'll be fomenting the fear. Unless Mom and Dad and Congress get behind his plan to cut the social safety net to appease his plutocratic puppet masters, he warns, Santa may not be coming this year. 

It won't be the Grinch that steals Christmas, proclaims the White House Council on Economic Advisers. It will be the dreaded Invisible Fiscal Cliff Elf. According to the latest presidential propaganda, the ticking Austerity Bomb will blow up the consumer confidence of otherwise doting and indulgent parents. They might not be buying any toys for the tots unless he can cut a deal before Fiscageddon!
Sales figures for the holiday weekend were encouraging: total spending was $59.1bn, 12.8% higher than last year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. An estimated 139.4m adults visited US stores and websites from Thanksgiving through Sunday, up 6.4% from last year.
But Monday's report from the White House National Economic Council, entitled The Middle-Class Tax Cuts' Impact on Consumer Spending and Retailers, warned that consumer confidence, currently at a five-year high, was at risk. "The hard-earned rise in consumer confidence will be at risk if the middle-class tax cuts are not soon extended with a minimum of political drama," it said.
So if you were making your list, the Paternalist-in-Chief wants you to check it twice before over-confidentally spending any more of your hard-earned cash. He wants to make sure you are very, very afraid. So afraid that you won't even notice that in order to protect your paychecks now, you will be retiring later with a smaller monthly Social Security check. So afraid, that you'll willingly wait a few years more for Medicare to kick in. So afraid, that a temporary tax hike for the rich will give you the illusion of everything being fair.

But here is what he isn't telling you: if no deal is reached, and all the Bush tax cuts expire as planned, the slight reduction in your paychecks will not be immediate. Moreover, Congress will have plenty of time and leverage to restore the middle class deductions retroactively, if need be. President Obama is not telling you this, because he desperately want to make this deal with the devil. He's wanted it since Day One.

While it is heartening to read that at least some Congressional Democrats are hitting back against President Scrooge, their posturing may be just more Kabuki Theater to make us believe there are still some good politicians left fighting for the little guy. Only time will tell.  Meanwhile, a few lone voices in the wilderness, such as economists Paul Krugman and Dean Baker, continue speaking truth to the mendacious power of the Fix the Debt crowd and other phony deficit hawks.  The best deal, they say, will be no deal at all.

So bah humbug to the Fiscal Cliff Elf in Chief. By the way, the toy factory he is visiting on Friday manufactures Angry Birds. If there really is a Santa Claus, they will go all Hitchcockian on him.


4Runner said...

Thanx for exposing the farcical fiscal cliff and its elfin cliffhanger-in-chief. Let's face it, this cliff is just a big bluff.

Denis Neville said...

According to the latest presidential propaganda…

Obama has deployed his campaign apparatus to sell us more and better catfood.

Not Your Sweetie’s threshold for the absurd is challenged in “A better class of propaganda,”

“old people will tell everybody why it’s good they’ll be put on an ice floe. And there’s an extra layer of irony here: these are the same people who convinced enough voters that voting the guy who brought war and poverty is a good thing…Now the same people will ask me to be happy about shopping for generic/smaller cat food.”


“The only reason propaganda is used is to make people agree to do something their common sense and wisdom otherwise tell them is brain dead stupid, like getting into a land war in Asia or voting for a less than one full term senator who came out of nowhere with bucket loads of cash.”


Why are so many so unforgivably gullible and stupid?

Valerie said...

If our fiscal cliff is so dire, why aren't we talking about cutting back on war? How expensive is our drone system? How much is the "embassy" in Iraq, staffed with only God knows how may "contractors" and CIA agents, costing the American government every year? I could go on but I won't waste my breath.

I guarantee a lot of our problems - most of our problems - with terrorism will go away if we get out of their countries and stop trying to manipulate their governments to suit the profit needs of the MIC and the petro-chemical companies.

They hate us? I have a solution: pick up our marbles and go home. Use that money - and it is a boat load - to shore up our eroding safety net and crumbling infrastructure.

One thing Rocky, Jill and Gary had in common - They all understood what we all know deep down inside; America cannot afford to be the self-appointed police force of the world. All that money going down the rabbit hole, and for what? America is more of a "marked" country than it was twelve years ago.

The Doktor said...

Another great piece Karen! President Scrooge has shown us he can be a bit of a chameleon so maybe he'll loosen up a bit if he keeps hearing from working Americans.
The republican politicians said they wanted spending cuts, but when they are faced with the responsibility and real world consequences of real government spending cuts- all of sudden spending cuts are a terrible catastrophe that must be avoided!
So here is my big question; Since when is spending a bad thing in a capitalist system!?! ( even though we've long since moved on to consumerism ) Wouldn't curtailed spending be the antithesis of capitalism? It would seem to me that spending cuts would be the absolute last thing in the world we would want to enact during an economic downturn in a capitalist ( consumerist ) system. And most of the lying, cheating, hypocritical republican politicians know that full well. I'm sure some of them are far too stupid to actually comprehend what type of economic system we employ period, let alone know how to make it function any better.