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Fiscal cliff is putting Americans on edge

HotTopicslogo_optBY PAM LOBLEY
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

I don’t know you if you’ve heard, but we’re headed for a fiscal cliff. On Jan. 1, 2013, just six weeks away, the Bush-era tax cuts expire, sequestration kicks in, and unless the President uses the bully pulpit and the lame-duck Congress stops kicking the can down the road and they reach across the aisle and make a Grand Bargain that thinks outside the box and what the hell am I talking about?

My friends, it’s a full-scale freak-out, and Congress has never been happier. First of all, they know they are all a bunch of over-paid windbags who can barely tie their shoes, so this gives them a chance to look busy. Why, there are meetings to attend. There are numbers to crunch. There are networks to pontificate to. They’ve got to get this right, for us, the American people.

Right now, stocks are getting hammered. Employers are threatening layoffs. Moody’s is talking about another downgrade to the credit rating of the U.S.

Some people have suggested that we just go over the cliff, just to see what happens. These are generally people who have regular jobs and steady paychecks.

Some people have suggested that it’s not really a cliff, really; it is more like a slope. It’s a decline, but we’ll slide into despair instead of plunge. Super!

The main point is, the country is quivering with uncertainty. And as we all know, the markets don’t like uncertainty. Employers don’t like uncertainty. Toddlers don’t like uncertainty -- they prefer a regular nap/feeding schedule -- but we don’t need to talk about that now.

So I offer you now some semi-certainties, to try to help you cope with the cliff:

If we do go off the cliff, every single American will see an immediate tax increase – first paycheck of the New Year. All this talk of taxing the rich has made us forget that we will all be taxed if the cliff is breached.

If we go off the cliff, thirty million Americans will learn the meaning of the words Alternative Minimum Tax. However, we probably won’t go off the cliff, so don’t worry about it now.

Defense spending will shrink by 10 percent, domestic programs by 8 percent. I’m not sure if that includes Congress’s individual salaries, but I’m guessing no.

John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi will keep their burnished, glowing tans, no matter how much time they spend inside the Capitol building.

CNN will get a new touch screen thingy that John King can tap and wipe to show pertinent cliff-related statistics.

Geraldo will still have a mustache.

Negotiating this deal will take until the last minute, with each side gravely shaking their heads at the severity of this giant task. When it’s finally done, there will be handshakes and big smiles all around, like they’ve all done us some big, fat favor by doing their job. Then they’ll break for six week recess.

I wonder what will happen ... It’s a real cliff hanger!

Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Check out her blog: Better Living Through Chaos! Follow her on Twitter @plobley.

 

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