U.S. Capitol Dome, Charles Dharapak/AP
With the Bush-era tax cuts about to expire at the end of the year both Democrats and Republicans are falling all over themselves to extend the cuts, or at least some of them, well before the New Year's Eve expiration date.
House Speaker John Boehner says, "We shouldn't wait until New Year's Eve to give American job creators the confidence that they aren't going to get hit with a tax hike on New Year's Day", (just who these "American job creators" are, Boehner doesn't say).
Meanwhile his counter part on the other side of the aisle, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated, "Democrats believe that tax cuts for those earning over a million dollars should expire and that we should use the resulting revenues to pay down the deficit". Hmm; isn't the "deficit" a Republican issue? Let's not go there.
Over in the Senate, Republicans want to see themselves as friends of all tax payers and small business (please!). While the Democrats are portraying the Republicans are just for the wealthy while they're for the middle class (what else is new).
It's all gutlessness and hypocrisy.
For starters, most economists have maintained there is no correlation that reducing taxes for the rich results in their creating jobs. Instead they tend to retain the savings rather than spend it. But that's the propaganda the Republicans have trotted out since Reagan, the theory of trickle down economics that has long since been exposed as a fantasy.
As for the Democrats, starting with President Obama, have been gutless in maintaining the higher moral ground and facing down Republican demands for retaining tax cuts for the rich, knowing all too well the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes and the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich should never have been enacted and should have been scrapped back in January of this year.
For another thing Democrats in the Senate had it within their power to revoke or at least modify the present 60 vote super majority filibuster rule in 2008 when they had a supposed filibuster proof majority. Instead they chose to retain the rule as is, ever fearful they'd lose their ability to foil the Republicans when they became the minority party. So it's no wonder they've failed repeatedly in stemming Republican intransigence.
But to get to the heart of fiscal matters and discipline, the granddaddy of gutlessness and hypocrisy for Democrats and Republicans alike has been their continued approval of bloated defense spending on cold war era weapons systems against an enemy that ceased to exist over 20 years ago.
Defense spending comes close to a trillion dollars per year when considering all the expenditures for new generation fighter planes, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles, ABM systems, nuclear weapons, homeland security expenditures, the wars, State Department spending (particularly now in Iraq), CIA and NSA budgets (largely hidden and classified) as well as foreign military aid to client countries around the world, (see TomDispatch, Tomgram: Hellman and Kramer, "How Much Does Washington Spend on "Defense'?).
Though taxes and/or tax cuts for the rich are Congress' latest focus and attention, they amount to an insignificant part of the overall fiscal budget and spending, while the "800 pound gorilla" of bloated defense spending gets a pass.
It is little wonder approval ratings for Congress stand at 17%, miraculously up from an all time low of 9% in February. Who knew?