By Jeff Girod
As of Sunday, no deal had been reached in Congress to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” and that could be a pain in the ass for every American.
I’m no economist. The first time I heard “fiscal cliff” I thought it was a new ride at Magic Mountain. But without an agreement, all tax cuts enacted in 2001 will expire. So will tax cuts from the 2009 stimulus package, as well as a lower payroll tax.
Oh goodie. More taxes. Why not just tax us back to the Dark Ages. Bring back feudalism and I’ll see if I can find work as a serf skimming out some Baron Von Earl’s moat.
Then again, why are we so worried about squeezing everybody even harder to pay down the national debt? Who’s going to force us to pay back anything? We’re the U-S-honkin‘-A. Even if we’re not first in everything anymore, we’re still on the medal stand. And you’d think we still had enough clout to float a few IOU’s.
And to whom exactly do we owe this gigantic pile of cash? China? I thought, as a nation, we collectively hated China. Who better to stick with the check?
The national debt is more than $16 trillion. How big of a number is $16 trillion? Take $52,000 and give it to each U.S. citizen. That’s about $16 trillion.
Now I’ve experienced a few lost weekends in my day, but nothing that came with 12-zero bar tab. As a nation, if we’re going to burn through 16 thousand billion dollars, I think we should’ve had more irresponsible fun. Wake up on the front lawn of a sorority house with a screaming hangover, no pants and covered in body glitter.
What’s the point of even keeping track of such an astronomical number—other than to make every American feel like a freeloading, guilt-ridden sponger. Nobody is ever going to pay back $16 trillion. I have enough bills in my mailbox without our government taking another chunk out of whatever’s left of my paycheck after federal, state and local taxes.
Paying off the national debt is as important to me as flood insurance, Sudoku and flossing. Should I care more? Hell yes. Any responsible American would say the same. But the reality is all four—flossing, flood insurance, Sudoku and any country’s debt—rank on my list of priorities somewhere below making sure the next season of Breaking Bad is DVR’d and figuring out what that weird smell is in my garage.
What’s the worst that could happen if we go over the fiscal cliff? Will gas be more expensive? Will our houses be worth less? Will the Kardashians somehow get famous? Oh wait, all of those terrible things have happened.
And what about the 10 percent of our country that’s still unemployed? How is it going to get worse for them? Is someone going to show up from the IRS, ring their doorbells and kick every jobless person in the groin?
This “fiscal cliff” nonsense is just political posturing to make either the Democrats or Republicans look good and/or bad. Take your pick.
According to The Huffington Post, the 112th Congress will set a record as the least productive since 1947, passing 219 bills, compared with 383 passed by the last Congress.
The fiscal cliff is a distraction, a modern-day ghost story that politicians tell voters to keep us in check. That way we’ll keep working hard while they spend money recklessly in D.C. like Charlie Sheen in the champagne room.
“What’s that? You’re starting to suspect that your elected officials are a bunch of castrated, imbecilic political blowhards? Lookie over here at the big, bad fiscal cliff. Booga booga booga!”
Even if we don’t go over ledge this time, there will be other near-fiscal disasters. (Fiscal volcano . . . fiscal quicksand . . . How about a three-headed, puppy-eating fiscal Minotaur?)
You can fret over every scrap of news that trickles out of Capitol Hill. Or you can ignore the rhetoric, avoid the anxiety and pay just enough in taxes to stay out of federal prison.
Me? I’m going to use part of this year’s tax return to buy a book of Sudoku.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.