Wile E. Coyote and the 'fiscal cliff'

Friday, January 4, 2013

One good thing about a messed up economy - a "fiscal cliff" isn't all that daunting a concept when you're already laying in a heap at the bottom.

For those with something left to lose in terms of life savings, it's probably a disconcerting sight to see the people they trust to guide the country looking like too many clowns packed into too small a circus clown car.

As of this writing New Year's night, the country is caught in a trumped up drama with all the emotion and suspense of an episode of "Glee," with both houses of Congress suddenly showing up to vote on a stopgap "kick the can down the road" fiscal cliff measure at the last possible moment, and taxpayers trying to tread water in thin air life so many Wile E. Coyotes. Bravo, Congress, J.K. Rowling couldn't have written a better piece of fiction than this.

All this comes after months of nothing much being done except studiously ignoring the impending fiscal deadline by what is likely the most gridlocked, incompetent Congress of our lifetimes, and sophisticated posing on the part of a president who isn't particularly admired by either party.

One has to seriously doubt whether members of Congress could successfully agree on what to have catered in for lunch Tuesday, let alone cooperate on real budgeting and spending cuts to prevent the national economy from plunging over the edge.

In fact, one gets the troubling feeling in the pit of the stomach that either party would just as soon drive that economy full-speed off the cliff, if it meant an opportunity to blame the other the opposing party for it.

There is no "fiscal cliff" - just another failure by our supposed leadership to work together to do the basic tasks of daily business, balancing a budget, paying bills and meeting deadlines. They have intentionally brought us to this point, for purely political purposes. It'll be another excuse for the markets and your 401K to go in the tank. Thanks for everything, Washington.

Probably the lamest part of the whole mess is the noise some members of Congress are making, puffing themselves up about heroically taking a pass on their own pay increases "granted by executive order" by President Obama, in order to share the pain the little people back home feel in an economy gone to heck.

How naive do these people think their constituents are?

The president doesn't make raises for Congress and never has. Congress votes its own raises - in fact, an automatic cost of living increase takes effect for them unless they vote not to accept it.

These grandstanders should read the 27th Amendment someday. It would be patently illegal for Obama's order, which took place before the new legislative term began, to grant raises to Congress.

What Obama did do was prevent a federal wage freeze moratorium, probably more out of concern for clerks and federal department employees, working stiffs who don't have the luxury of handing themselves thousand-dollar raises every year, or enjoying the $61,000 a year in average pension for life or 67 paid holidays that Congress has.

Those who are telling you otherwise are lying to you. Not exactly a new concept for government.

Not that it seems to matter. No matter how much we say we are going to demand bipartisanship, honesty and effectiveness in government, we keep re-electing people regardless of what foolishness they inflict on us.

Ronald Reagan used to say, "When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat."

Until we can do that, we don't deserve much better than what we get.

I checked the website and Facebook site of our own Congressman, Steve King, tonight as all this hoopla was going on, and there wasn't a word I could see about a fiscal cliff.

There was a nice, safe "merry Christmas to our troops" statement there, which would be a lot more meaningful, if we were bringing them home.

Come on; $180,000 a year poli-celebrities debating a cover-up for their own budgeting failures by cutting into the benefits of the Social Security recipients? At least the senior citizens earned their money.

A couple of thoughts on the local front:

* The City of Storm Lake has been talking about swapping land to add to Sunset Park. Don't know if that will ever get done, but if it does - what are they going to do with a little chunk of lawn? I have a thought - why not a fitness park? Many of those have been built elsewhere, including rural Okoboji. Equipment is relatively affordable, so you can walk, jog or bike in, do some pull ups, sits ups, etc., and go on your way. Let's add to our outdoor, healthy appeal. I could see a little dog park, too.

* The City has been asked to contribute a small amount to UDMO, something it has denied in the past. The agency asks $8,000 to help the needy in the community. The same city council just days earlier offered over $1.4 million in potential assistance in various forms to no-doubt wealthy developers in Minnesota and Kansas in hopes of getting them to build housing complexes here. Nothing wrong with greasing the wheels for a needed project, either... but if we have big money to so invest, a little bit for the less fortunate is not out of line. If it wasn't for UDMO, we as a community would face doing a lot more, and more directly, to deal with the problems of poverty.