Фискалната пропаст – къде е и какво ще/се случи?

Падането във

Падането във “фискалната пропаст” в крайна сметка беше предотвратено, но посоката надолу за сега остава. САЩ може да се окажат изправени на ръба на следваща криза още в края на февруари, когато м-вото на финансите вече няма да може да взема пари назаем и ще се обърне към Конгреса с молба за вдигане тавана на дълга, който ще достигне супер рекордните 16.4 трилиона долара. ФОТО_КОЛАЖ:.www.discovery.com

Преодоляването на “фискалната пропаст” – благополучно завърши в първия ден на Новата година с президентски подпис и след гласуването в Конгреса в последните минути на старата година и предпазиха от увеличаване данъци и съкращаване на бюджетни разходи и заплахата да върне страната в рецесия

2 януари 2013г. Най-дискутираното жизнно важно събитие за САЩ по време на Коледните и Новогодишни празници – преодоляването на “фискалната пропаст” – благополучно завърши в първия ден на Новата година с президентски подпис и след гласуването в Конгреса в последните минути на старата година.

Президентът на САЩ Барак Обама подписа закона за избягване на т.нар. “фискална пропаст”, с който се увеличават данъци и съкращават бюджетни разходи и заплашваше да върне страната в рецесия, съобщиха американските медии, които непрекъснато следяха събитията около “елхата” на Белия дом.

Камарата на представителите одобри мярката с 257 срещу 167 гласа късно вечерта във вторник, почти 24 часа след като Сенатът я прие с 89 срещу 8 гласа, видяхме в директното предаване на телевизията Си Ен Ен.

“Към Земята се е насочил астероид. Ние сме го създали и сме го изстреляли срещу самите нас, защото в противен случай никога нямаше да положим големите усилия, необходими за да се защитим от астероиди.” Така комикът Джон Стюарт, водещ на популярното сатирично предаване The Daily Show, определя т.нар. “фискална пропаст”, която бе прескочена, макар и два часа след крайния срок и благодарение на извънредни заседания на парламента в празничните дни.

От 35% на 39.6% се увеличава данъкът върху доходите на най-богатите американци. Това беше и едно от предизборните обещания на Обама, но в хода на преговорите той отстъпи от исканията си прагът за облагане да бъде 250 хил. долара. Сега той се повишава на 400 хил. долара годишно за физическо лице или 450 хил. долара за семейство.

Над този праг доходите от дивиденти ще се облагат вече не с 15, а с 20 на сто. От днес влиза в сила и 3.8% данък върху инвестициите, свързани с програмата на Обама за здравна реформа. По този начин приходите от дивиденти ще се облагат с близо 24%

Под 250 хил. долара са годишните доходи на над 100 млн. домакинства в САЩ, което означава, че по този начин те ще бъдат защитени от автоматичното вдигане на данъците им от 1 януари. Отпадат някои данъчни облекчения за физическите лица, печелещи между 200 и 400 хил. долара годишно и за домакинство с доходи от 250 хил. до 450 хил. долара.

Данък наследство за имот на стойност над 10 млн. долара се повишава до 40%. Но необложени ще продължават да бъдат наследени имоти до 5 млн. долара за физическо лице и до 10 млн. долара за домакинство. Освен това републиканците наложиха прагът да се актуализира според инфлацията – така към 2020 г. той ще стане 7.5 млн. долара за физически лица и 15 млн. долара за семейства.

Удължават се с 1 година застраховките срещу безработица на 2 млн. души. Още 5 години ще действат правилата за данъчни облекчения на семейства с деца и на кредит за следване в колеж за по-бедни домакинства, от които се ползват около 25 млн. семейства.

Бизнесът ще ползва и през тази година данъчни облекчения за изследвания и развойна дейност или за инвестиции, които подобряват ефективността на производството.

Няма да се задейства предвиденото за 1 януари съкращаване с 27% на сумите, които здравната програма Medicare плаща на лекарите, работещи по нея.

Агенция Reuters отбелязва, че договорката постига някои от целите на корпоративна Америка за данъчната политика, но оставя редица проблеми нерешени, включително най-големия – намаляването на дълга и дефицита, както и отлага с два месеца големите съкращения във федералния бюджет. Затова анализаторите предупреждават, че САЩ може да се окажат изправени на ръба на следваща криза още в края на февруари, когато м-вото на финансите вече няма да може да взема пари назаем и ще се обърне към Конгреса с молба за вдигане тавана на дълга, който ще достигне супер рекордните 16.4 трилиона долара.

Двете най-големи рейтингови агенции в САЩ – Муудис и Стандард енд Пуурс – подканиха Конгреса да продължи отвъд границите на постигнатото споразумение за избягване на т. нар. фискална пропаст и да предложи план за намаляване на дефицита във федералния бюджет.

Муудис разпространи изявление, в което се изтъква, че през следващите месеци Конгресът на САЩ трябва да предприеме допълнителни мерки за намаляване на дефицита във федералния бюджет, който на годишна основа през последните четири години надхвърля сумата от 1 трилион долара, пише БТА. Ако тази цел не бъде постигната, рейтингът на американските държавни ценни книжа, който в момента е “Ааа”, ще бъде застрашен от понижаване.

В отделно изявление Стандард енд Пуурс предупреждава, че постигнатото споразумение не постига задължителната цел “правителствените финанси да бъдат поставени на по-устойчива основа”.

През август 2011 г. рейтинговата агенция понижи оценката си за дългосрочния държавен дълг на САЩ от ААА на АА+. “Управлението и политиката на Вашингтон са станали по-нестабилни, по-малко ефективни и по-малко прогнозируеми”, се казва в съобщението на Стандард енд Пуурс, посочва АП.

Международният валутен фонд (МВФ) също подканиха Конгреса да продължи отвъд границите на постигнатото споразумение, за да се избегне дерайлирането на крехкото икономическо възстановяване на най-голямата икономика в света.

“По-конкретно, възможно най-скоро трябва да се одобри цялостен план, който подсигурява както по-високи приходи, така и ограничаване на разходите в средносрочен план. В допълнение е от решаващо значение бързо да се повиши тавана на дълга и да се премахнат оставащите неясноти около бюджетните съкращения и законите за държавните разходи”, заяви говорителят на МВФ Гери Райс.

Индексите и търговията по фондовите пазари изхвърчаха нагоре след като Вашигтон избегна в последния момент пропадането във фискалната пропаст.

7 comments for “Фискалната пропаст – къде е и какво ще/се случи?

  1. 2013/01/03 at 3:29 AM

    President Obama signs

    KABC

    — Many Americans are breathing a sigh of relief Wednesday. After weeks of contentious negotiations, Congress reached an emergency deal to avoid the fiscal cliff and widespread tax increases. President Barack Obama signed the bill Wednesday that boosts taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while preserving tax cuts for most American households.

    The deal will generate $600 billion in new revenue over 10 years, less than half the amount Obama first called for. It will raise income tax rates only on the very rich, despite Obama’s campaign for broader increases.

    Lawmakers in the House passed the bill late Tuesday night. After the Senate endorsed the legislation, the bill headed to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

    Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, signed the bill using an autopen, a mechanical device that copies his signature.

    Under the plan, income taxes will stay the same for everyone except individuals making $400,000 or couples making $450,000 a year or more. The bill also ensures there won’t be a tax hike on estates valued at less than $5 million and extends unemployment benefits for 2 million people.

    The tax package will not stop a temporary Social Security payroll tax that expired on Jan. 1. It will hit nearly every wage earner. Those with an annual income of $40,000 to $50,000 will see an increase of $579. The $100,000 to $200,000 range will see a $1,784 increase and those earning more than $1 million per year will face a more than $170,000 tax increase.

    President Obama praised the compromise, but added he didn’t want a repeat of the bickering in future negotiations.

    “One thing that I think hopefully we’ll focus on if we can put a package like this together with a little less drama and a little less brinkmanship and not scare the heck out of folks quite as much,” Obama said in a press conference Tuesday.

    Supporters of the bill in both parties expressed regret that it was narrowly drawn, and fell far short of a sweeping plan that combined tax changes and spending cuts to reduce federal deficits.

    The deal includes no spending cuts, thereby failing to address hefty cuts scheduled to take effect with the new year in defense and government programs. The bill delays them for two months which sets the stage in Congress for another round of rancorous back-and-forth negotiations.

    “The Senate, the president, and the vice president failed to meet their obligation, their own stated obligation which was to bring us a balanced bill, one that had tax adjustments, yes, but also had spending cuts,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, California. “This one fails at that.”

    Still, many lawmakers are praising the compromise.

    “Reconciling our differences was a monumental task, especially with the time growing short,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “We appreciate the leadership of the vice president. We appreciate the leadership of the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate and we thank Speaker (John) Boehner.”
    The bill also avoids the so-called debt ceiling. In two months, the government will reach its limit on borrowing unless Congress acts.

    On Wednesday, President Obama returned to Hawaii to finish his vacation. The president cut it short to tend to the economic crisis.

    abclocal.go.com

  2. 2013/01/04 at 8:16 AM

    WHITE HOUSE: What You Need to Know About the Bipartisan Tax Agreement

    +VIDEO: Watch President Obama discuss the agreement from the White House Briefing Room

    The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was also passed by a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives on January 1, 2013.

    President Obama has repeatedly called this a make-or-break moment for the middle class. That’s why we worked with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to reach an agreement that keeps income taxes low for the middle class and helps to grow the economy. And as the President promised, millionaires and billionaires will also begin doing more to help pay down the deficit through a combination of permanent tax rate increases and reduced tax benefits.

    This is the first time in twenty years that a bipartisan agreement has increased tax rates on the wealthy. Additionally, this deal ensures that America will continue to invest in education, clean energy, and manufacturing to strengthen our economy and the middle class.

    As President Obama noted in a statement about the deal, while neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country. And the President looks forward to working with Republicans to reduce the deficit in a balanced and bipartisan way.

    The agreement passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate last night permanently extends the middle-class tax cuts and also extends credits for working families. It provides additional measures to protect families and promote economic growth. The lower tax rates, an expanded Child Tax Credit, and marriage penalty relief will provide certainty for 114 million households and together will prevent the typical family of four from seeing a $2,200 tax increase.

    By raising income tax rates on the wealthiest and keeping taxes low for the middle class, it means we will now have the most progressive tax code in decades. The agreement also prevents two million people from losing unemployment insurance benefits in January by extending emergency UI benefits for one year.

    The agreement avoids a 27 percent cut to reimbursements for doctors seeing Medicare patients for 2013 by fixing the sustainable growth rate formula through the end of next year (the “doc fix”).

    Tax credits that encourage the production of clean domestic energy, such as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), will be extended through the end of the year. And businesses will get to immediately write off 50 percent of capital investments made next year, helping to create jobs in manufacturing and other sectors.

    The deal also postpones the sequester for two months, which will give Congress time to work on a balanced plan to prevent the automatic spending cuts that would threaten our national security and slash investments that build our economy. The postponement is paid for with $1 of revenue for every $1 of spending, with the spending balanced between defense and domestic: The agreement saves $24 billion, half in revenue and half from spending cuts which are divided equally between defense and nondefense.

    There’s more work to do to reduce the deficit, and President Obama is prepared to work with Congress to do it. But this agreement builds on the $1 trillion in spending cuts the President has already signed into law.
    Watch President Obama discuss the agreement from the White House Briefing Room:
    http://youtu.be/JPRWugIbNlw

  3. 2013/01/04 at 8:21 AM

    Seven things you need to know about this tax deal

    Working with the President, Democratic and Republican lawmakers this week came together to approve a bill that prevents a tax hike on the middle class that could have thrown the economy back into recession. President Obama will soon sign this agreement into law.

    Here’s what you need to know:
    http://links.whitehouse.gov/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTMwMTAyLjEzOTEyNjExJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDEzMDEwMi4xMzkxMjYxMSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3MDA5OTU0JmVtYWlsaWQ9YnVsZ2FyaWNhQGdtYWlsLmNvbSZ1c2VyaWQ9YnVsZ2FyaWNhQGdtYWlsLmNvbSZmbD0mZXh0cmE9TXVsdGl2YXJpYXRlSWQ9JiYm&&&100&&&http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/01/02/seven-things-you-need-know-about-tax-deal?utm_source=email191&utm_medium=text1&utm_campaign=middleclass

  4. 2013/01/04 at 8:25 AM

    Fiscal Cliff Deal: What It Means for You
    Kim Keister/AARP

    What will happen to my paycheck?

    Let’s start with income tax. Rates will stay the same for 99 percent of workers. If you earn $400,000 or more ($450,000 or more for couples), Uncle Sam will begin taking a bigger bite — at 2001 levels.

    What about payroll taxes? Haven’t I been paying less to Social Security the last couple of years?

    All workers are taking a hit here. Since 2011, you’ve been paying 2 percentage points less of your earned income into Social Security — a move that was designed to help stimulate our troubled economy by giving more people more money to spend. But that so-called “payroll tax holiday” has expired. In 2013, you’ll take home 2 percentage points less.

    I’m on Medicare. What happens to my benefits?

    Good news: No change in Medicare benefits, including Part D low-income premium and cost-sharing subsidies and catastrophic subsidy payments. But watch for proposals to change Medicare to resurface in negotiations about raising the debt ceiling in the coming weeks.

    Will Medicare pay my doctor for my visit?

    Yes, your doctor will still be paid at the same level this year, thanks to the agreement. Unfortunately, that’s only a temporary “doc fix.” A permanent arrangement could become part of broader Medicare negotiations.

    Will anything happen to my Social Security benefits?

    Not for now. Social Security retirement and disability payments were exempted from the budget cuts. But like Medicare, Social Security could soon be at the center of negotiations.

    What about Medicaid, food stamps and Veterans Affairs compensation payments?

    The same as for Social Security — no change.

    I’ve been out of a job for more than a year. The federal emergency unemployment benefits have kept my family going. Will that stop?

    No. The deal extended that help — for you and 2.1 million other unemployed Americans. Another 1 million people who don’t have jobs and will exhaust their state benefits in early 2013, according to the advocacy group National Employment Law Project, will also be covered. And good luck with your job search.

    Should I give my heirs a heads-up about changes in the estate tax?

    Only if you’ve got lots of money for them to inherit. The first $5 million in inheritance is still tax exempt, but after that the rate rises to 40 percent, from 35 percent previously.

    Will Meals on Wheels keep delivering to my home?

    The agreement delays for two months cuts to the Meals on Wheels program and all of the other across-the-board cuts to the budgets of numerous domestic agencies and the Pentagon. But stay tuned.

    Will I get snagged by the Alternative Minimum Tax?

    That depends on your income. Middle-class Americans, who have been increasingly hit by a tax code initially aimed at making it harder for wealthy American to avoid taxes through loopholes and deductions, will now be spared from this tax. But Americans in the highest income brackets will have a harder time getting around it.

  5. 2013/01/06 at 6:26 AM

    PRESIDENT OBAMA Weekly Address: Working Together in the New Year to Grow Our Economy and Shrink Our Deficits

    WHITE HOUSE, Dec 5, 2013

    WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama talked about the bipartisan agreement that Congress reached this week which prevented a middle-class tax hike, congratulated the newly sworn-in Members of Congress, and looked forward to working with the new Congress in the new year to continue to grow our economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way.

    The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00AM ET, Saturday, January 5, 2013.

    Remarks of President Barack Obama
    The Weekly Address
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    January 4, 2013

    Hi, everybody. Over the past year, as I traveled across the country campaigning for this office, I told you that if I was fortunate enough to be re-elected, I’d work to change a tax code that too often benefited the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

    This week, we did that. For the first time in two decades, we raised taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans in a bipartisan way, while preventing a middle-class tax hike that could have thrown our economy back into recession.

    Under this law, more than 98% of Americans and 97% of small business will not see their income taxes go up one dime. We also made sure that millions of families will continue to receive tax credits to help raise their children and send them to college. Companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research they do, the investments they make, and the clean energy jobs they create. And two million Americans who are out of work will continue to receive unemployment benefits so long as they are actively looking for a job.

    But all this was just one more step in the broader effort to grow our economy and shrink our deficits. We still need to do more to put Americans back to work while also putting this country on a path to pay down its debt. And our economy can’t afford more protracted showdowns or manufactured crises along the way. Because even as our businesses created 2 million new jobs last year – including 168,000 new jobs last month – the messy brinksmanship in Congress made business owners more uncertain and consumers less confident.

    We know there’s a path forward. Last year, I signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. This week’s action further reduces the deficit by $737 billion, making it one of the largest deficit reduction bills passed by Congress in over a decade. And I’m willing to do more.

    I believe we can find more places to cut spending without shortchanging things like education, job training, research and technology all which are critical to our prosperity in a 21st century economy. But spending cuts must be balanced with more reforms to our tax code. The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn’t be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.

    And as I said earlier this week, one thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up. If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic. The last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it. Our families and our businesses cannot afford that dangerous game again.

    I congratulate the newly sworn-in Members of Congress, and I look forward to working with the new Congress in a bipartisan way. If we focus on the interests of our country above the interests of party, I’m convinced we can cut spending and raise revenue in a manner that reduces our deficit and protects the middle class. And we can step up to meet the important business that awaits us this year. Creating jobs and boosting incomes. Fixing our infrastructure and our immigration system. Promoting our energy independence while protecting our planet from the harmful effects of climate change. Educating our children and shielding them from the horrors of gun violence.

    These aren’t just things we should do – they’re things we must do. And in this New Year, I’ll fight as hard as I know how to get them done. Happy New Year, everybody.

    VIDEO:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVF8e5AuY10

  6. 2013/01/06 at 6:38 AM

    Obama will not negotiate with Republicans on raising the nation’s debt ceiling
    “One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up”

    ‘Fiscal cliff’ compromise deal betrays lack of courage
    What our elected officials in Congress have once again given us in this latest budget deal is Washington’s equivalent of turning up the volume to mask the sound coming from America’s failing engine.

    Dec 5, 2013
    WASHINGTON TIMES

    Just two days after signing off on the bipartisan “fiscal cliff” deal, President Obama on Saturday pivoted to the next budget showdown with Congress, reiterating his “no-negotiations” pledge on the upcoming debt-ceiling debate.
    In his weekly Internet and radio address, the president repeated earlier remarks in which he insisted that he will not negotiate with Republicans on raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    “One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up,” the president said in an address taped in Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.
    “If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic. The last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it. Our families and our businesses cannot afford that dangerous game again,” Mr. Obama said.

    The president indicated a willingness to talk spending cuts with Republican lawmakers.
    “Last year, I signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. This week’s action further reduces the deficit by $737 billion, making it one of the largest deficit-reduction bills passed by Congress in over a decade. And I’m willing to do more,” he said.

    In the GOP address, Michigan Rep. Dave Camp shrugged off the president’s talk of reining in spending.
    “Unfortunately, the spending problem is getting worse, not better. Under President Obama, we’ve had four straight years of trillion dollar deficits. Our national debt is now over $16 trillion. We’re crushing today’s small businesses and the next generation of Americans under a mountain of debt. We’re selling their future, and our country’s financial independence, to China,” said the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

    My neighbor’s 10-year-old station wagon has a terrible noise coming from the engine compartment that has been getting louder over time. Something is obviously very wrong. His solution? He can’t afford to have it repaired, so he simply keeps turning up the radio until he can’t hear it anymore.
    What our elected officials in Congress have once again given us in this latest budget deal is Washington’s equivalent of turning up the volume to mask the sound coming from America’s failing engine.
    The “fiscal cliff” agreement coming out of Congress has little correlation to the very real and very serious fiscal problems we currently face as a nation. To quote a phrase that has been used often to describe the many past Congresses, they have once again “kicked the can down the road.” Real reform to a bloated and job-stifling tax code has been put off indefinitely. Cuts to discretionary spending were pretty much taken off the table. Most significantly, the “elephant in the room,” our unsustainable entitlement programs, will continue to drive up the deficit and lead us down the path toward fiscal insolvency.
    Politicians in Washington would have us believe that they had but two choices: the fiscal cliff or the status quo. Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Democrat, called it a “hold-your-nose vote,” but nevertheless voted in favor of the deal that does almost nothing to address our problems. Many of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle did the same. We’ve seen this time and again — our elected representatives failing to take on the critical issues because the responsible action might be politically inconvenient.
    Despite the nature of the electoral process, true leadership is not about winning a popularity contest. It’s about having the courage to make hard decisions because you understand that doing so is ultimately in the best interests of those you’ve sworn to serve and protect. It’s time for our representatives to stop holding their noses and cease putting politics ahead of the nation’s welfare. They need to acknowledge that any real solution is going to be painful for the majority of Americans, regardless of which political party or economic class they fall into. It will be far less painful, however, than it will be if we allow our elected officials to continue to kick the can down the road.
    Let’s face it. We all know, consciously or at least intuitively, that continuous deficit spending is our society’s root problem and is creating an unsustainable level of debt that will ultimately result in the nation’s demise. It works the same way whether you are running a household or running a government.
    Getting America back on track will require Congress to tackle the issues that were absent in this latest deal: genuine tax reform that simultaneously reduces both rates and expenditures (credits and deductions for special interests), significant cuts to nonsecurity-related discretionary spending, and major reforms to the current entitlement system, which accounts for almost half of all government spending. No one is suggesting it will be easy. Such an approach to governance will require hard work, political compromise and a sincere commitment to actually making difficult decisions that will very likely prove to be politically “inconvenient.”
    Taking liberty with an old adage, I say to our elected officials: “If you can’t stand the smell, get out of the kitchen.” It’s time for them to start doing what is expected by those they represent.
    Chris Perkins is a retired military officer and was a congressional candidate in 2012.

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/4/fiscal-cliff-compromise-deal-betrays-lack-of-coura/#ixzz2HCqxw5wo
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  7. 2013/01/08 at 10:39 AM

    WOLF: Grappling on the ‘fiscal cliff’
    Entrenched politicians out of touch with reality
    We’re Americans. We want our steaks hot, our beers cold and our politicians — temporary

    “Et tu, GOP?” tweeted writer and comedian Stephen Kruiser upon watching the Republicans cave to President Obama’s so-called “fiscal cliff” tax and spending hikes. “Kidding, I knew you had the knife.”
    Disappointment doesn’t quite capture the essence of how grass-roots conservatives feel right now about the feckless Republicans on Capitol Hill. Disappointment, after all, can only exist when one’s expectations go unfulfilled. Conservatives are not delusional enough to expect Republicans in Washington to actually mount an effective countercampaign to the Democrats’ unrelenting march toward total government rule. What GOP voters are experiencing is not disappointment so much as a noxious amalgam of exasperation, aggravation and nausea.
    I marvel at Republicans’ inability to expose — or perhaps even recognize — the abject absurdity of Democrats during this entire fiscal cliff debacle. For over a decade, Democrats have cried that President George W. Bush’s tax cuts are the root of all economic evil, that they caused the 2008 recession and exploded our debt. Now they demand that 99 percent of those tax cuts be reinstated?
    The Democrats’ endlessly repeated phrase, “Bush tax cuts for the rich,” has become the party’s mantra. Then, without batting an eye, they admit that it was all a lie as they demand we reinstate the 99 percent of Bush’s tax cuts that were for the middle class.
    Are there no Republicans capable of exposing these duplicitous Democrats? Perhaps we can enlist a few junior high school kids to teach the GOP how to perform YouTube video searches of their adversaries to expose the breathtaking hypocrisy of being against the Bush tax cuts before they were for them. Remember Ross Perot and his charts? How about this: Take an iPad to every interview, queued up with the previous anti-Bush tax cut statements made by your opponents (both the Democrat and the interviewer — I know, it’s redundant). Expose them. Force them to debate themselves.
    The recently departed Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf reportedly once said of our French allies: “Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.” After watching this fiscal cliff debate, I’d like to nominate the congressional Republicans for a Norman Schwarzkopf Accordion Award.
    In this sad milieu of caving Republicans, you’ll find what’s the matter — and what’s right — with Kansas. It offers a lesson for all of America.
    Kansas’ entrenched Republican senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both supported President Obama’s tax-hiking, pork-laden fiscal cliff plan. Unleashing Obamacare tactics, these senators voted under the cover of darkness for a 154-page bill without even reading it. The Senate vote occurred three minutes after the bill was delivered to them, allowing less than 1.2 seconds to study each page.
    It turns out our speed-reading senators failed to stop increased payroll taxes that will hit 77 percent of U.S. households. They also supported subsidies for everything from overseas rum producers to Hollywood moviemakers and aspiring algae growers. They claimed the plan will cut $15 billion in spending — over a decade. For a government that spends $10 billion a day, that’s not even sofa change.
    As Iowahawk blogger David Burge explains, this is a two-pack-a-day smoker promising to cut out five cigarettes per year. Really, it’s not even that. Later, after the hasty vote, the Congressional Budget Office determined that the bill actually increased spending by $330 billion. So the Washington solution to our spending crisis is — drumroll — more spending. Who knew?
    Mr. Roberts added insult to injury by calling this $600 billion tax hike “tax relief.” This is what happens when you spend three decades in Washington: Up becomes down, down becomes up and a $600 billion increased tax burden on 77 percent of households becomes “tax relief.” What’s more, Mr. Roberts also claimed he would “now focus on spending cuts.” Sure, and Lindsay Lohan will now focus on sobriety. Why didn’t he focus on the $330 billion in increased spending and just vote no?
    There’s still something right about Kansas in this fiscal cliff debacle, though. The entire Kansas House delegation — Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder and Mike Pompeo — all voted against the Democrats’ tax and spending hikes. Three freshman and a sophomore, with average time in Washington of two-and-a-half years, these representatives had the courage to stand on the side of Kansans and common sense.
    Compare that to Mr. Roberts and Mr. Moran with their combined 46 years in Washington (31 years for Mr. Roberts and 15 years for Mr. Moran), who remind us that something has gone terribly wrong with the American principle of a citizen legislature. An entrenched ruling class, of either party, is simply not good for the country.
    We’re Kansans. We’re Americans. We want our steaks hot, our beers cold and our politicians — temporary.
    Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at http://www.miltonwolf.com.

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/7/grappling-on-the-fiscal-cliff/#ixzz2HPWSV4AL