The 'fiscal cliff' solution a farce
The "fiscal cliff" solution was a farce. What happened could have been done last August.
It was another pork package. It made most of the Bush tax cuts permanent and did nothing to slow or reduce spending. The administration seems to want us on the path of European social welfare. If so, all those who are successful will have to be taxed to pay for the social welfare lifestyle.
We can't continue the current monetary policy and high government spending. Immediate attention needs to be directed to spending related to entitlements, Obamacare, the housing crisis, regulations and, most important, deficits and our huge and growing debt.
We, as a country, owe $16 trillion, which is more than our gross domestic product. Entitlements drive that deficit and we have 200 different ones that cost $1 trillion a year. They need to be means tested and devolved to private control, state and local government.
All taxpayers are going into 2013 with less money for their families. If the Washington spendaholics keep spending, we are all going to have higher tax bills.
'Cliff' deal a step in right direction
Certainly, resolving tax rates and other issues was a step in the right direction. And extending unemployment insurance and the Alternative Minimum Tax and "Doc" fixes made sense.
Also, the fact the bill was passed by Republican and Democratic votes was promising. Still, the bill did not raise significant revenue.
Our annual federal deficit is real, as is our increasing federal debt. The origins of these come from the Bush tax cuts, two unfunded wars and expanded military and homeland-security commitments.
Annual deficits of $500 billion or more became the norm under the presidency of George W. Bush, leading to the first $1 trillion deficit in the 2007-08 fiscal year. Then came the recession.
President Barack Obama entered office handcuffed by an underfunded budget, two unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare drug plan. Republican pronouncements that our financial problems are based on spending, not revenue, are disastrous.
Per Obama's balanced approach, we need to reduce spending and increase revenue ... one step at a time. We have a long way to go.
Did not solve nation's spending problem
President Barack Obama wasted the past year attacking Republicans and campaigning instead of cutting back spending and working with Congress toward balancing the federal budget.
Using last-minute pressure, Obama and Congress stabilized the tax crisis but did virtually nothing to solve the real problem of cutting back wasteful spending.
With Obama's proposed budgets not even getting Democratic votes and the Senate not even passing a budget in four years, the government is out of control and already busting through the previous debt-limit increase of two years ago.
Republicans and the financial world realize America's deficits and irresponsibility deserve to be downgraded because of overspending, with 46 percent having to be borrowed in addition to the available revenues.
In two months, Obama and the Democratic-run Senate should be solving this problem with the Republicans, who have made numerous proposals that would control spending and grow the economy.
But the president and Sen. Harry Reid continue dithering and blaming. Hopefully, the media will focus on the need to cut back spending, rather than again just parroting Obama's blaming and inflaming rhetoric. We shall see.
Not satisfied with the deal
I agree Congress needed to do something about the "fiscal cliff" and, therefore, am glad they voted yes on that less-than-perfect bill. But I'm not satisfied with the compromise by any means.
I'm glad the unemployed didn't get abandoned, but I'm upset oligarchs will continue to avoid estate taxes, creating a new American aristocracy.
I'm glad the poor and middle classes will retain their lower income tax rates, but I'm upset the price is that corporatocracy can still avoid paying its fair share.
I'm glad the wealthiest will now pay 13 percent more income taxes, but I'm upset that working Americans' share of payroll taxes will climb 47.6 percent with the elimination of the payroll-tax holiday.
I'm upset the wealthy still pay lower effective tax rates than working people due to the vastly favorable tax treatment of unearned vs. earned income, including escaping any Social Security taxes from investment income.
I'm upset the wealthy mostly escape the largest tax hit the working man pays through the cap on payroll taxes.
Despite this legislation, America's income disparity grows unabated.
'Fiscal cliff' deal is at least a start
Some people say President Barack Obama is the most "polarizing" U.S. president ever. But where does the polarizing stem from, and why?
For the past couple of years, when Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner were working hard on their plan to prevent Obama's re-election, they refused to raise the debt ceiling, though they had done it many times for President George W. Bush.
Their "grand bargain" failed because Republicans refused to compromise, and the result was a huge hit to our economy, driving up the deficit. It wasn't an accident.
If Obama lost re-election, his Republican successor could go ahead and cut spending on Medicare, Social Security and other so-called "entitlements," and shrink government at the expense of those suffering from Bush policies and the resulting economic collapse.
In my opinion, that would've been catastrophic. They didn't want Obama to win, but he did, and now the American people want compromise.
The "fiscal cliff" deal is a start, but America needs more.
Sam Van Zandt
'Fiscal cliff' deal will help the poor
Most of the Times articles on the congressional "fiscal cliff" vote state the deal that passed favored the Republicans. While this might be true, it is better than having taxes raised on everyone.
Some called the deal a dud regarding the deficit, saying it was paltry. But that doesn't matter. The deal that was passed was just to prevent the effects of the "fiscal cliff."
If this deal had not passed, many people would suffer -- mostly the poor.
What we all need to do is comprehend that this deal, while meager, will help a lot of people who are not financially stable.
Cowardly failure by Congress
The recent tax legislation to avoid the "fiscal cliff" was another example of cowardly failure by Congress.
It actually increases taxes on 77 percent of Americans, yet President Barack Obama and the media were able to sell it as "tax the rich, protect the middle class." Moreover, the revenue gained will be used for new federal spending, not paying off the debt.
Going over the so-called cliff would have been painful, but not as disastrous as the cliff looming ahead through unchecked federal spending.
Somehow, Obama, the Democrats and their media lackeys have convinced Americans that trillion-dollar deficits and a $1.6 trillion dollar debt are not big problems. In keeping with this, Congress feels it can perpetually delay any meaningful action.
Many cynics believe the goal of liberal leaders is to destroy the American economy, create chaos and produce a situation allowing a socialist takeover of the government (more fundamental change). While I don't go that far, it does make one wonder.
It's up to the Republicans in the coming months to use whatever leverage they have to force spending cuts. But will they have the courage?