Tea Party be damned! The Democrats and Republicans will spend with abandon this Holiday season to avoid being labeled uncaring. The House and Senate are set to spend approximately $120 billion to extend the payroll tax “holiday,” plus up to $50 billion to continue unemployment benefits; neither of these programs are expected to create any jobs or substantially add to economic growth. Another $200 billion will ooze from Washington as Congress once again implements the “doctor fix,” to correct the Medicare doctor reimbursement shortfall, rather than correct the problem.


The failure of the Super Committee to address long-term structural debt left the country, once again, in a leadership deficit. President Obama was nowhere to be found as partisan bickering ruled the day. Democrats wanting to villainize millionaires, and closing ranks with the Occupy forces, would not accept anything other than a millionaire’s surtax. Republicans, having pledged to not raise taxes, couldn’t get Democrats to accept yes for an answer as they went against their pledge by offering to agree to the elimination of tax deductions.

Despite their childish exploits over the fall, both the Democrats and Republicans sealed their own fate this Summer when they agreed to include automatic cuts, famously called “sequestration” into the Super Committee bill and now both Medicaid/Medicare and Defense will be slashed equally. Russian Roulette is a poor replacement for statesmanship.

Agricultural subsidies that have been unneeded and obsolete for years could not bring the broken Congress together and Democrats tried to extend them for 5 years. Reforms in the subsidies were promised but never came to fruition. For the foreseeable future every taxpayer in the U.S. will be paying farmers in the South to grow cotton and rice, while the market already richly compensates them. Imagine the South African government giving DeBeers a subsidy to mine diamonds? That’s just how stupid we are. We give money to processors to turn corn into alcohol to add methanol to gasoline, resulting in higher prices for consumers for anything using corn; about 80% of sweetened food products use corn sweetener or a derivative.

Lawmakers from farming states took nearly $50 billion in savings from agricultural subsidy savings and turned around and created an entirely new subsidy to lock in the four-decade-high revenues for corn and soybean growers in the Midwest. The new subsidy is free revenue insurance to farmers that would pay if a farm lost as little as 13 percent of its revenue in any year.

Republicans insist that extending the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed must be paid for through cuts to other programs or finding other non-tax sources of money for them. However the moment you find a way to pay for the payroll tax cut or unemployment extension debt reduction is lost as those savings simply go from one bucket to another.

Republicans are suggesting $15 billion in income from auctioning additional broadcast spectrum for the cell phone industry and $35 billion by increasing the fee that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge lenders to guarantee repayment of new loans.

The Republican propositions are nothing more than the old Washington smoke-and-mirrors. The new revenue takes more than 10 years to pay for the payroll tax cut and unemployment extensions, which occur over the next 12 months; apparently the Tea Party has had a lot less influence on the Republicans than the Democrats would like you to think.

Republican House member Jeff Flake of Arizona summed it up quite concisely, “It’s a gimmick!”

Not to be left behind, the White House’s pledge to pay for the president’s “jobs” program with tax increases on high-income earners has landed atop the Washington pile of unfulfilled promises as the president is now ready to grow the nation’s $15 trillion debt rather than find offsetting cuts or revenue.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “It’s not even any more about how you pay for it. It’s whether or not one party actually supports giving tax cuts to middle-class Americans.”

Any sense of responsibility is cast to the wind as you enter Washington. There may be a handful of conscientious members of Congress, but they are far outnumbered by the old guard of “when I have the gavel I spend and when you have the gavel you spend” lawmakers.

After the holidays we’ll be deep into the 2012 political season and you can be certain that any sense of sensible government will be lost in the pursuit of campaign dollars and political favors. Is there anyone out there that isn’t solidly in favor of term limits anymore?
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