John Boehner, Barack Obama, and the fiscal cliff – plus some dumb questions

There is a CRS report on income inequality in the USA. Here are some quotes from that report:

Estimates derived from federal income tax data, which allow researchers to look within the top 5% of the U.S. income distribution, suggest that those at the very top have reaped disproportionately larger gains from economic growth. These, among other measures of income dispersion, have led analysts to conclude that inequality has increased in the United States as a result of high-income households pulling further away from those lower in the distribution.

Based on the limited data that are comparable across nations, the U.S. income distribution appears to be among the most unequal of all major industrialized countries and the United States appears to be among the nations experiencing the greatest increases in measures of income dispersion.

This information can be found at the Federation of American Scientists, CRS Reports, Miscellaneous. A link to this page is provided here. Search for ‘income distribution’.

Since this is a Congressional Research Service report, I expect that both Messrs. Boehner and Obama have access to it, and even have read it. It is quite relevant to the fiscal cliff. The cliff was created to force lawmakers to come to an agreement. This is not happening.

If you will pardon an atrocious pun, an agreement would have to be a No Boehner. The Republicans seem to want to keep tax breaks for the rich, and to remove social spending for the poor: in other words, to exacerbate the already absurd level of income inequality in the USA.

Not that I think Mr. Obama is blameless. I believe his insistence on compromise has compromised … himself. He should make it stunningly clear that if certain boundary conditions are not met, he will veto any legislation.

I believe George W. Bush threatened to veto more than any other president, and was forced to actually veto probably at the extreme low end of historical frequencies. I also believe the legislature of that regime should have forced the president to veto, thus making it clear where the legislative decisions, compromises and non-compromises, were coming from.

Now for the dumb question. These tax cuts for the rich are tax cuts, right? The rich once paid these taxes and were rich, right? So why are they so onerous now? Is Warren Buffet the only millionaire with a conscience? (No, actually, the Gates’ come immediately to mind, and there are other philanthropists who really do try to make a positive difference with their wealth. Apologies to all of them.) Still, the majority of the rich would have agreed with Mitt Romney’s audience, at a (gasp!) $50,000 a plate dinner, that 47% of the USA does not matter to them at all.

The dumb questions: why do they always have greed for more than one’s share, no matter how much they have already? Have they no humanity?

And: Can Barack Obama cause something to happen that meets his beliefs? Will he?

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