Arbitrary creation of the Congress

It will be a welcome development for Congress to take the country over the fiscal cliff. At least it would be a change from their legislative inertia over the past four years.

However, we must keep in mind that the "fiscal cliff" is an arbitrary creation of Congress as an incentive to prevent them from kicking the "deficit can" down the road once again.

Like other arbitrary concoctions, such as setting your watch ahead to prevent tardiness, it doesn't solve the basic problem. It merely provides the appearance that action is being taken.

Both sides are engaged in a game of brinkmanship that will take our nation either up to or over the edge. Whether it is a disastrous fall or a slight economic bump remains to be seen.

John P. O'Shea

El Sobrante

Fiscal-cliff dance in Washington

Worried about Congress taking us over the fiscal cliff? Notice the begged-question bias.

It's President Barack Obama who demands $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next decade, as a "fair share" from top 2 percent earners -- those already paying half of all federal income taxes.

That average $160 billion annualized increase, which presumes no negative economic effect and that "the rich" take no defensive actions, covers only 11 percent of the U.S.'s $4 billion daily borrowing, and would operate the federal government for just 15 days under Obama's $3.8 trillion 2013 budget.


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The further context: a rapidly growing $16.4 trillion admitted debt (www.usdebtclock.org, $52,000 per person) and unfunded entitlement liabilities exceeding $100 trillion.

It's grossly irresponsible spending, not Alinskyite-alleged insufficient revenues, that created the fiscal cliff.

Obama, meanwhile, claims openness to "smart cuts." He could start by terminating the $98 billion a year for the Department of Education. We did fine without it (landing men on the moon in 1969, for example) before President Jimmy Carter's new-agency 1979 payoff to teacher unionists.

Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org) also offers numerous savings ideas.

Michael Arata

Danville

Solution must be reached

When will the Democrats and the Republicans agree on the needed tax reforms to prevent the financial crisis we will face in January?

This is going to impact everyone unless Congress solves these problems this month. Failure to act is not the answer.

We need our members of Congress to reach across the aisle and do everything they can to promote a common-ground compromise for the benefit of all Americans. We will face a disaster if Congress does nothing.

This is getting very urgent and Congress must offer a solution this month.

Please email your congressional representatives and ask them to do everything in their power to work together toward a compromise and a solution that works for everyone.

Howard Geifman

Walnut Creek

A fiscal cliff fairy tale

The fiscal cliff is like a fairy tale.

Henny Penny is trying to save a little of her seed corn for the spring planting. Turkey Lurkey insists on scattering it around right now because we can always borrow more from the Peking Ducky Lucky.

We've confiscated the golden eggs but it still isn't enough to keep the barnyard denizens fat and happy. They elect Old MacDonald because he promises to cut the drumsticks off Goosey Loosey. He explains that it's only fair; she's a greedy bird who did nothing to earn those golden eggs.

Chicken Little, who just wants to protect his rich friend, warns that Goosey Loosey will die, retire or buy a ticket to a safer barnyard to live happily ever after taxes.

Heeding this warning Old MacDonald quickly steps in and kills the goose while slightly more than half the barnyard cheers him on.

David Fore

San Ramon

Status quo is untenable

I am not worried about Congress taking us over the fiscal cliff.

The rich must pay their fair share -- period! If this means we all have to temporarily suffer a bit more because we fly over the fiscal cliff, I say bring it on.

The outcome will be that more poor people and more of those of us in the shrinking middle class will realize sooner, rather than later, that stronger labor, stronger support for public education, and reasonably regulated capitalism is the long-term answer. Not the status quo.

Janell Hampton

San Leandro

Public lobbying harms agreement

Certainly I'm concerned about the deleterious impact plunging over the fiscal cliff will have on our country.

The resulting financial hardship will strike countless millions of taxpayers. But there's reason to believe the burden would be short term for most Americans if that avoidable event occurs.

Constructive, good-faith negotiations aren't possible when leaders plead their case publicly.

In a sincere attempt to avoid the fiscal cliff, Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and the president should immediately end their harmful public lobbying.

Then Boehner and McConnell should declare, privately if necessary, that they aren't beholden to Grover Norquist's obsequious power. Finally, the above-mentioned members of Congress should meet behind closed doors in a serious attempt to reach an agreement that could pass muster with their colleagues.

If such an effort proved unsuccessful, then our leaders will have failed us and our country will be hammered by the consequences.

In order to reach a salable agreement, it's imperative Democrats and Republicans understand they may have to yield on something they currently consider inviolate.

Ronald Entwistle

San Pablo

Housing values may plummet

Plummeting housing values in Contra Costa County, where home prices are high, could occur if the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff.

The impending cliff could mean that the current deductions for home-mortgage interest and for property taxes could disappear.

Currently, people who itemize their deductions on their federal tax returns can lower their tax liability. Mortgage-interest payments and property-tax payments are tax deductible.

The mortgage interest on a home loan of $800,000 could be $50,000 per year. The property tax could be $15,000. If the $50,000 and the $15,000 are added together, the total is $65,000.

For someone earning $300,000 a year and itemizing his taxes, the $65,000 can now be deducted from the $300,000, leaving $235,000 in taxable income.

Going over a fiscal cliff might mean that an individual has no tax deductions.

An individual with no deductions might have to lower his house's price because a prospective buyer, also facing higher taxes, might not be able to pay the seller's price.

Richard S. Colman

Orinda