There is a hilarious scene in the movie Dave where Kevin Kline’s small business owner pretending to be the President of the United States calls in his small-town accountant, portrayed by Charles Grodin, to help him balance the federal budget.
I was reminded of their memorable attempt to bring common sense to the nation’s capitol while watching the powers-that-be attempt to avert the fiscal cliff. Many of us hear the huge numbers being thrown out by both sides of the argument, and each side’s threats of oblivion and cataclysm if we don’t let them spend more money we don’t have, and we turn the channel either confused or frustrated because we live in a world where we actually have to pay our bills. Unfortunately, we know we can’t trust the leaders in either political party, and most of the media seems more focused on who’s winning the war of sound bites than what’s actually best for the American people.
However, we still have a responsibility to be informed citizens, and with another fight over the debt ceiling looming in March, it is vitally important that we take that responsibility seriously so we can see past the talking points and get right to the truth. And the inconvenient truth is that despite all of the campaign promises we heard last year to stand up for the middle class, it is the middle class that is actually the hardest hit by what’s going on in Washington, D.C. right now.
For example, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy centre, middle-class households making between $30,000-$200,000/year will actually pay at least $1,784 more in taxes in 2013 than they did in 2012 because of the recently passed fiscal cliff compromise. And that’s not counting all the state and local taxes, and excise taxes on everyday items many of us purchase like gasoline we’re already on the hook to pay as well.
To put this in terms that are easier for us to understand than all the bluster we hear from the politicians, you could be paying the government what amounts to six extra car payments this year. If you don’t have a car payment, imagine paying your highest heating/air conditioning bill five more times this year. Do you have that kind of discretionary income just lying around? It’s doubtful, because if you did you wouldn’t be middle class. Thus, you and your family will have to cut back on your spending this year since they won’t cut back on theirs.
Many of our politicians don’t understand what you’re going through because they live in a world mostly isolated from the decisions they impose on the rest of us.
When they need money they can just tax you more to get it, but if you raid your neighbour’s bank account to pay your bills you go to jail for stealing. Our government is $16.4 trillion in debt and climbing, and in March they’re planning to tack on even more. Could you imagine being over-extended on all of your credit cards with no provable plan to repay, but then asking your credit card company for more? They’d laugh you right off the phone. At least 55 million Americans don’t get paid vacations from their employer, and last year about half of American workers didn’t use their vacation time out of fear of losing their jobs in a tough economy. But your politicians not only get a paid vacation from you, but in the case of the President and the first family you pay for the vacation itself. But don’t weep for your congressmen and senators, because many of their vacations are free, too, courtesy of lobbyists.
But that’s not all.
Middle class voters are promised more jobs from the politicians over and over again. Yet all we’re getting more of is government. The last four years have seen the largest growth of government in American history, but it’s only resulted in creating 4 million new jobs while the national debt has increased more in the past four years than it did the previous eight years combined. I’m already hearing from listeners all over the country noticing a decrease in their first paycheck of 2013 due to the rising cost of healthcare, and estimates are two-thirds of American workers will see their wages continue to decrease once the government’s “solution” to fix the problem kicks in to make the problem worse.
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson might as well have been speaking directly to our generation when he said:
“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labour and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labour of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.”
You and I don’t get to live this way. You and I have to make tough choices. You and I have constituents that demand goods and services from us, like our children. They may want tickets to that Taylor Swift concert, but sometimes we have to be adults and say no because the funds just aren’t there right now and we have more important priorities we have to meet.
It’s time we make those running our government behaves like adults as well. Otherwise they’ll bankrupt our children and grandchildren before they’re even born or earn their first paycheck.
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