“I’m shocked! Shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in here.” – Claude Rains, Casablanca, 1942.
I’m still in shock, and in politics I lost my virginity more than a few decades ago (along with the “other” one.) Congress working a Federal holiday. House Speaker John Boehner (R) must have had to pull back from the bar early in tears on that Amateur Night Monday to greet the challenge of herding House cats and have a clear eye to look out for Überconservative tea drunks with steely knives from Solingen.
Alas, the so-called “fiscal cliff” was averted in the final minutes, observed by me and my fellow masochistic pundit perverts on C-SPAN. What is this? Notre Dame football strategy to keep fans at the edge of their seats? Would now Tea Bag ex-Reps. Joe Walsh (R-Ill. Family Court) and Allen “Loose Cannon” West (R-Fla.) do a last-minute Jack-in-the Box pop-up to queer any deal? Nope. The holy markets subsequently rallied the Dow without even a short bungee jump.
Amid the nation’s relief, there was disappointment for both ends of the political spectrum. While critical programs for the struggling were saved, the income levels for returned 90’s tax rates only touched 1.5% of America’s wealthiest, annoying Progressives. The radical Righties groused that the Star Spangled Banner was remixed to the tune of the “Internationale” for a Comintern rally in 1930s Moscow. No “grand bargain” for anyone, just a lull in the fiscal hostage taking and carnage.
Politics is compromise.
Even tax hawk Grover Norquist tried to extrude a Play-Doh tax pledge yarn. After Republican intransigence made the reckless Bushie tax cuts technically “expire,” renewing the lower tax rates for 98.5% became a “tax cut” instead of a Grover NeoCon fatwa call. Don’t worry, despite some upper income tax rates returning closer to the prosperous Clinton rates of the 1990s, the best off lost precious little of their gravy train.
In addition to a White House compromise which returned those prosperity rates to inDUHvidual incomes over $400,000 and joint rates in excess of $450,000, the estate tax (aka: GOP “death tax”) thresholds were set at a princely $5million individual, $10mil joint level to garner cross-aisle support. It’s not as if that lot will be clipping Sunday paper store coupons, or resurrecting visions of Depression-era farm families piling the family belongings aboard the Clampett clan’s ancient truck for the trip to Beverly. “Hills that is. Swimming pools. Movie stars.” When did Bentley start making redneck chic pickups in Crewe?
Except for some condo dwellers in the 700 block of Park Avenue in New Yawk City, $400+ Large annual rake ins and tax free multimillion dollar leavings from dear departed Daddykins are indicators of the RICH. Just like Calli$$$ta Gingrich’s powder blue shop-till-you-drop sacks from Tiffany’s. Still living much larger than The Jeffersons. Damned few of the “Rest of Us” are singing “Movin’ on up.”
It became obvious that dozens of adult House Repubs were paying more attention to their Wall Street finance industry sugar daddies than to the Tea Bag simpletons they really only have to charm once every two years. A last minute deal had to be reached, and they’re never pretty.
While we were amusing the globe squabbling over the checkbook, the unfinished business of a nation continues to pile high in our in-baskets.
The 112th Congress is dead. Good riddance.