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On Two Kinds of People and Government

Economy Tax

Not to be overly simplistic, but I’ve generally found that there are two kinds of people in life:

  • Those that eat their beans first, and those who go straight for the cake.
  • Those who clean their room first, and those who are already out the door riding bikes with Tommy.
  • Those who say “just rip the stupid band-aid off,” and those who whine over every little tug and pull.
  • Those who pledge to…lose weight, stop smoking, be nice to weird Uncle Larry, or (fill in the blank) , and those who never follow through with their pledge. “Tomorrow…I’ll do it tomorrow.”

At the 13th hour of “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations, our elected leaders showed which kind of people they are. But none of this surprised us, right? I blogged about it early in December noting:

...while Republicans and Democrats are currently engaged in a political game of chicken, what’s the likelihood that they’ll simply let all of these [Fiscal Cliff expirations] get implemented without modification or further kicking the can down the road? Not very likely. You may have heard me say before: ‘Human nature has no taste for pain or patience…and government is nothing more than collective human nature.’ Though our country needs to go through a financial cleansing, our leaders have been unwilling to let that happen and I don’t see that changing now.

Sure, it’s nice to finally get some certainty on the federal estate and gift tax thresholds, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and selected other items. The stock market responded in typical Pavlovian fashion, and now the IRS and TurboTax can get on with tax season. But this was an exercise in non-resolution…it did absolutely nothing for the longer term financial concerns of our country. It was can-kicking at its finest.

We’re still running trillion dollar deficits. Forced cuts in federal spending were pushed two months down the road. Entitlement reform was pushed into the future (for the umpteenth time). Now we’ve got the Debt Ceiling fight in March, the Farm Bill fight in September, and the expiration in December of the (yet again) extended Unemployment Benefits program. 

And because Congress doesn’t deal with Debt Ceiling issues at the same time they approve spending Bills, otherwise smart folks propose idiotic gimmicks like having the Treasury mint a Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin, deposit it with the Federal Reserve, and cancel $1 Trillion of total existing federal debt.

“Tomorrow…I’ll deal with it tomorrow.”