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Wed Dec 5, 2012, 07:03 PM

In facing the “Fiscal Cliff”, what exactly does “Shared Sacrifice” mean?

I know the obvious definition, which goes something like; “to get our economic house in order, everyone has to share the burden”. OK, fine, so we share the burden. But what does that really mean? Are Americans being asked to share “the burden” equally? And just what constitutes a burden anyway? A light backpack is hardly burdensome to a healthy adult hiker, but most four year olds couldn’t handle carrying it for long. Cut the caloric intake of an overweight individual and most would call it dieting. Cut the caloric intake of someone severely malnourished and starvation becomes the more accurate term. But hey, both individuals are giving up something. That is what passes for “shared sacrifice” in Washington lately, at least in Republican circles.

All Americans are supposed to ante up “some skin in the game.” of fighting our budget deficits. Whether that is through liposuction or through amputation is of secondary concern. What matters now is making “the numbers add up”. So long as each side “gives up something” it’s supposed to be “fair”. Split the baby down the middle. Isn’t that what compromise is all about?

The Republican position during the fiscal cliff negotiations is not just totally discredited (the entire 2012 election campaign centered on the question of “fair taxes” and Republicans came up short), it is also morally obscene. The added pain that they now propose fall most heavily on many of our nations most vulnerable citizens was entirely of their own doing

The George W. Bush tax cuts were designed originally to be temporary. Bush campaigned in 2000 arguing that the government was hoarding way too large a surplus, and that much of it should be given back to tax payers in the form of a temporary tax cut. Polling at the time showed most Americans disagreed with Bush’s tax proposal. It was viewed even then as a giveaway to the rich and a reckless potential budget buster. Americans preferred that more of the surplus That Bush inherited from Clinton be used to shore up social security than what Bush chose to allott for that purpose

Though he ultimately won the presidency with a controversial “assist” from the Supreme Court, no one disputes that George Bush lost the popular vote in the 2000 election to Al Gore. Bush was not Americans first choice for President. The Bush tax cuts only became law because his running mate Dick Cheney was in place to cast a tie breaking vote in the Senate to make them into law.

The irony here is hard to miss. In 2000 Polls showed that Americans opposed Bush’s tax plans, Al Gore won more votes for President that George Bush did, yet Bush forced his tax plan through a Senate that was bitterly divided on partisan lines. That is how Republicans traditionally define “compromise” Fast forward to 2012. President Obama campaigned for reelection by strenuously arguing that the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans should be allowed to expire, as originally intended, on all income over $250,000. Polls show that the American people agree with the President’s position on this issue, and Obama received over 4 million more votes than his Republican opponent.

So naturally the Republicans in Congress now propose Mitt Romney’s campaign platform as their idea for a budget compromise. I called their position morally obscene above, and I meant it. On one hand Republicans argue that “painful cuts” must be made to entitlement spending because even if Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are allowed to expire the Trillion dollars in revenue that would generate still falls well short of stanching the red ink of our future deficits. Then Republicans turn around and advocate a plan that raises 20% less in actual revenue than the lapsed Bush tax cuts on the wealthy by themselves would bring in.

An additional 200 Billion dollar shortfall, do you know what that could pay for? When all is said and done its close to an even trade – Republicans want to give those dollars back to the wealthy and offset that cost by raising the age of Medicare to 67 to balance the ledger.

There are many differences between the wealthiest Americans and most of their fellow citizens, but the ability to plan for a comfortable retirement and the means to afford quality health care are prominent among the advantages they typically enjoy. Medicare was created to address Senior Poverty, specifically the inability of aging Americans to afford health insurance in their retirement years when their incomes typically are most limited. Most Americans may be living longer today than when Medicare was first established, but millions of us are becoming poorer sooner.

There is no such thing as reliable employment for life any longer. Pensions are going the way of wind up watches, and few of us are earning gold ones, wind up or not, from grateful employers these days. Pink slips are far more likely, especially for workers over 50 with seniority generated higher wages and benefits. It is a rapidly shrinking percentage of older Americans who can count on retiring from a well paid job when 65 rolls around, with or without an employer provided pension. It’s increasingly more common for late middle age Americans to burn through their retirement savings trying to stay afloat during the decade before they can finally qualify for Social Security and Medicare.

Allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to finally expire is the least the wealthiest Americans can do for their fellow countrymen and women now after well over a decade of sustained and dramatic income growth within their ranks during a time when real income for the vast majority of Americans has stagnated or actually fallen. That doesn’t qualify as a sacrifice, it is merely justice delayed. Only then can we begin negotiating what burdens each of us as Americans are reasonably in a position to bear in order to put our nation’s finances on sounder footing.

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Reply In facing the “Fiscal Cliff”, what exactly does “Shared Sacrifice” mean? (Original post)
Tom Rinaldo Dec 2012 OP
Jackpine Radical Dec 2012 #1
AnnaLee Dec 2012 #2
Tom Rinaldo Dec 2012 #3
Iggy Dec 2012 #4
Tom Rinaldo Dec 2012 #5
Iggy Dec 2012 #6

Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 07:06 PM

1. The concept of shared sacrifice is simple.

The 99% sacrifice, and the 1% share the proceeds.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 07:11 PM

2. Why not share everything? nm.

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Response to AnnaLee (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 07:13 PM

3. Republicans think that should only happen in Kindegarden, if then :) n/t

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 07:28 PM

4. Here's what it Means:


Qualification age for SS, medicare, will rise.

The deadbeats in congress will "promise" to look at tax evasion loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy class for decades, but nothing much will happen there.

We may lose the morgage interest deduction break that some of us have-- and losing it will more or less wreck the (sort of) recovering housing industry.

Our obscene, bloated defense budget will barely be touched-- if at all.


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Response to Iggy (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:58 PM

5. Yeah, something like that

It was interesting to go back and look at the politics surrounding how the Bush Tax cuts were first put in place. Republicans don't negotiate, they wage class war. Negotiations for them are just a final chance to win through intimidation what they fail to win through elections.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 06:34 AM

6. Of Course it Helps When "Democrats"


are willing to cave on more or less every crucial issue being negotiated.

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