Happy Blue Year

It’s mourning in America, peeps! Last night we went over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” actually more like a bungee jump because apparently the House is going to vote on the Senate’s bill this morning and (hopefully) pull us back. Oh, goodie.

I’m sitting here enjoying my first cup of coffee of the day and haven’t yet read up on all the details, but it sounds like it’s what they were talking about yesterday: raising taxes on incomes over $400,000 for single filers, $450,000 for families. On hearing the news that $400,000 is now “middle class,” Mr. Beale enthusiastically quipped, “Great! I can’t wait to beupper middle class.” Dude.

Nobody likes this deal but everyone on my TeeVee is telling me that is a sign of “bipartisanship” and good negotiating. Um, bullshit. I’m trying to remember the last time I haggled over the price of something, say a car, and both parties walked away pissed off and angry and called it a win. That would be never. The essence of a good compromise is that all the negotiating parties have something to be happy about. People do not walk away from a successful negotiation pissed off.


Yesterday during the media circus over this deal I saw Democratic Rep. Steve Israel of New Yorktell us,

I’ve always believed that $250,000 may make you rich in some parts of the country, but not in places like New York. A higher threshold, I think, is a good compromise.

… to which I say, Fuck you. Don’t live in New York, then. I mean, seriously? This is the Democratic position? Since when do we craft national tax policy to cater to the most privileged extreme? (Don’t answer that.)

I know Rep. Israel was just speaking out on behalf of his constituents, but that attitude really pisses me off. There are very few places in this country where the cost of living is so high that $250,000 is not enough to get by, where people will really suffer if their marginal tax rate goes up a few percent. In fact, please show me the New Yorker who will really, really be hurt by a tax increase at the $250,000+ level. And I mean seriously hurt, not just whining, but will not be able to make it. Where is the person who will have to put off sending their kids to college or put off the knee operation another year or take a second or third job to make up that extra $2,000 or so in taxes? Yes, Rep. Israel, find me that person. Good luck.

It pisses me off that there areDemocrats who don’t understand the razor’s edge on which so many people live these days. Meanwhile, we have the Republicans for whom this is all one giant game. Let’s look no further than my own Senator Bob Corker, offeringthis astonishing butthurt after Obama’s remarks yesterday:

“I know the president has fun heckling Congress. I think he lost probably numbers of votes with what he did.”

Guess what, the Senate bill passed 89-8, so that would be a big, fat wrong-o, buckaroo. And oh, did some Republicans get their widdew fee-fees hurt? Awww! Let’s make theentire country pay higher taxes because some pampered millionaires in Congress don’t like getting scolded by the black POTUS. Grow the fuck up.

I realize this is all theater, it’s all pandering to the cameras, which is just further proof of our massive institutional failure. Our government simply no longer functions. At this point I’m just throwing up my hands. I honestly don’t know what to do. I despair, people, I really do. The solution, if there is one, lies elsewhere. Somewhere along the way, some forces came into play to cause this institutional failure. We need to find those forces and, like a skilled surgeon, excise them. Remove the tumor, be it the media, lobbyists, corporate personhood, whatever.

Last night Mr. Beale and I saw the excellent documentaryChasing Ice. It’s about climate change, and it’s gorgeous, scary and frustrating. It reminded me that we’ve got some really big issues facing us, globally-speaking. So grow up, already. We all need to stop being such big fat babies about everything because there are some massive problems coming down the pike that make tax cuts for millionaires look so petty. We can’t have our government run by a bunch of thumb-suckers — ofeither party. The zombie apocalypse is upon us, people, and we simply don’t have that luxury. We can’t afford posturing and butthurt and ego-stroking.

I didn’t intend to be such a downer today. Sorry. And maybe there’s a silver lining here. Since we obviously can’t get our own house in order, my advice to the world is: better solve the big stuff without us. Clearly other nations are more rational and intelligent about things like climate change and world hunger and the like; they don’t have the crackpot “end times” yokels dragging their policy machinery back two centuries. The past few years have shown that America does not want to be the grown-up in the room. So please, carry on without us.

10 thoughts on “Happy Blue Year

  1. Dear Ms. Beale,
    It is difficult to respond to what your wrote withourt lowering the downer mood you mention in your ending. And yet… We have not hit bottom yet.
    You wrote: “I realize this is all theater, it’s all pandering to the cameras, which is just further proof of our massive institutional failure. Our government simply no longer functions.”
    I think you have it half-right. It is theatre, but the institution is not in massive failure (except in failure to the general populace it is claimed to be for — by the people, for the people, etc.).
    It is working exactly as those that control it want it to. The theatre part is still necessary so that sleeping giant, which has turned a little restive lately, slumbers on and lets those in charge, stay there. Remember, those in front of the cameras are the ones making the rules as they want them to be. What you see as failure is simply the system working as it is designed to do. Unfortunately, it is designed for the benefit of the few that like sitting on top of the heap.

  2. Obama heckling Congress? Talk about the thin skin, especially considering two decades or more when “Democrat Party” is the least of their slurs…speaking of, I idly tuned into C-Span just in time to watch McCain use “Democrat Party” while doing his own pearl-clutching routine.
    What whiners — whiners who’ve been at it so long they don’t have the slightest clue of how smug and entitled they look to, well, me at least.
    It was after watching McCain…and some clown from Georgia…that I searched around the internets to see what horrible insults Obama hurled at them. That they can’t work out a deal? That they delay until the last second? Imagine if Obama had, oh, I don’t know, questioned their citizenship, shouted out “liar” during one of their speeches, etc. etc.
    Makes you wonder how they can tie their shoes…oh, right: they’ve probably got staff to do that for them…

  3. Surely you don’t trust Corker on statistics, do you?
    It seems that the repubs, especially those in the house, continuously talk about how Obama’s approval is falling while the actual numbers are that the prez has a much higher approval rating than Congress.
    Kind of like how the vote in November was overwhelmingly for Romney – all the way into election night.

  4. Ahem — living in New York is not the “most privileged extreme.” That’s a really crappy kind of reverse snobbery. $250,000 for a family of four isn’t that much here. And since you mentioned climate change, people who are living here are taking up less space and leaving a smaller carbon footprint than people in the ‘burbs are.

  5. “$250,000 for a family of four isn’t that much here…”
    So you live in an expensive place. But that’s not the fault of the rest of us. And there’s an infinitely larger percentage of Americans for whom making $100,000 would be like winning the damn lottery. I’m sorry you live in an expensive city but is raising the marginal tax rate by 4% on just that income over $250,000 going to take food out of kids’ mouths there? Because I guarantee you there are people here who are really going to be hurting if they lose those unemployment benefits in the Senate bill, or the jobs that will be lost if sequestration happens. There are people who need the stimulus this will pay for.
    This post definitely was not meant to be a slam on New York (a city I love and visit often) or on the lifestyle of New Yorkers, or to make any point about the comparative carbon footprint of New Yorkers versus other Americans. That’s way out of bounds. But the post was meant to make a point about the attitude that somehow it’s going to be the end of the world to a very small group of people. It’s not.

  6. Just in case it isn’t blazingly obvious, that 4% equates to $40 per thousand, only on he income over whatever threshold they decide on.
    $40 per thousand.
    It’s not even chump change.
    “Remove the tumor, be it the media, lobbyists, corporate personhood,”
    All of the above, plus right wing think tanks and the entire Rethug party.

  7. It’s amazing that all this ruckus was over a lousy 4 percentage points—they let the 2 percentage points of payroll tax holiday expire without a second thought, but then the working class is not within the scope of interest for the Congresscritters.
    But my standard for a good settlement agreement is that no one is happy with it. So by that rule of thumb, this works. I don’t know of anyone (except maybe Obama, who was ready to give away everything) who was happy with it.

  8. Winston Churchill said something worth noting, albeit said in a somewhat petulant mood, because the United States did not come into the war when he preferred (something which likely would have prolonged the war, since the level of mobilization would not have been the same without the attack on Pearl Harbor). Thus: Americans always do the right thing, after first trying everything else.
    I’m not entirely convinced that was ever universally true, but the general sentiment bears consideration. Once, the observation might have had merit, but today, no. The calls for general sacrifice today are not for the preservation of the nation, but, rather, for the preservation of the power of the nation’s elite, two remarkably different things which have been conflated disingenuously. Solutions to the very real and pressing problems of the nation are, in fact, antithetical to the interests of the powerful.
    I would hope that Churchill was right–that we will eventually do the right thing–but, rationally, I have no expectation of that actually happening, if only because the power of the aristocracy (fuck it, let’s go ahead and call `em what they are) has grown so enormously in the years since Churchill’s lament.

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