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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Important Decisions Required By Year-End

U.S., Political, Quality of Life, Economy, Taxes, People Making A Difference

As we look at the coming major financial issues hitting us after the elections, we can see the importance of the election magnified beyond the constant harping of television ads, print ads and the never-ending ringing of our telephones with which we’ve all been inundated over the past weeks and months.

Three major issues hit at the end of the year, after the election will have been decided.  Those issues are each capable of upending our household budgets.  The issue of Alternative Minimum Taxes needs be addressed to avoid many middle class taxpayers being hit by this old mechanism originally passed to get high earners to pay more taxes.  Unfortunately, those who masterminded the AMT bill didn’t think of inflation so no inflation indexing was included.

Then, there is the problem with our borrowing over $0.40 of every dollar we are spending.  We have a Federal Debt Limit that is just south of $17 Trillion and we will hit that limit by the end of the year.  Congress has so far refused to address this issue, probably because it didn’t want to add that fuel to the race for the Oval Office.  Obviously, we have been spending money we don’t have for a very long time, and that bogey man is coming home to sit on our front doorstep yet again.

Lastly, there is the now infamous Fiscal Cliff issue that is also known as ‘sequestration’.  If this issue is not resolved on a timely basis, we will see automatic cuts made to many of the federal programs we all take for granted, as well as significant cuts to the defense budget and other budget categories.

These issues have been known for many months but the Congress, in its apparent infinite wisdom, and in its zeal to influence our votes for President in one direction or the other, and to protect its own hide since the majority of Congress (Senate and House) is reelected every two years, has refused to step up to the plate.  This is, of course, the same Congress that has been unable, or, more to the point, unwilling, to do its job.  The House has proposed and passed a budget only to be thwarted by the current Senate leadership that hasn’t even put forth a budget proposal for more than three years.  Those darned budgets actually prescribe and fund the limits of each program.  Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has preferred to use the ‘continuing resolution’ tool since he can make more spending decisions with money we don’t have under that approach.  Why worry about little things like debt.

As we work diligently to make our final decisions on the presidential race, we should also be thinking beyond the hyperbole of those campaigns to the simple points above.  Adults will need to step up to the plate and make these decisions.  They will need to make them quickly.

The single greatest problem, frankly, is that these decisions will be reached by a ‘lame duck’ Congress…and could be boosted by a ‘lame duck’ President.  It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings, and she won’t begin her song until after the election.  Lame duck decisions have often been bad decisions since those deciding don’t have to face the voters again for at least two years, if ever.

Please be sure you make the right decision on Tuesday because we’ll all be living with it for quite a long time.  It is too easy to cast a ballot under the influence of emotion when facts might well dictate otherwise if we’d simply let those into our heads.

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