Congress, A Cliff and A Cat

It only took them about 520 days, but Congress has managed to throw together some last-minute agreement that kept us, at least temporarily, from going over that dreaded fiscal cliff.  The way it was handled was ugly, disheartening and even more polarizing than anyone could imagine.  In the past few days, as the seconds to the deadline ticked by, two branches of our government made concessions, then took them back, dug in their heels in some political game of chicken and, finally, voted on a budget that, in part, only forestalls some problems, and it happens all over again.   There are still debates to be had about debt ceilings and budget cuts, among other things.   The media are reporting that President Obama gave Harry Reid a set of proposed concessions which Harry took home and threw into his lit fireplace.  Reid wouldn’t talk to Mitch McConnell, so Vice President Biden had to intervene.   Outside of the Oval Office, John Boehner told Harry Reid, “Go f*** yourself.”

While the bad boys and girls up in Washington throw tantrums and demand their own way, the rest of us were trying to figure out if our doctors will get any money from Medicare or if our taxes are going to go up or if we’ll be able to afford that $7 gallon of milk.    Many of them signed a pledge to that guy, Grover Norquist, and promised that there would be no new taxes.  I don’t remember asking Grover to speak for me, and I don’t care what they call it – if the government is shrinking our pay checks and cutting our exemptions, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a tax.   Of course, as politicians and lobbyists are joined at the hip, a little pork was added.  Hollywood, the rum industry and Nascar were among a few of the interest groups to see tax breaks.   To add insult to injury, as Congress and the Senate bask in the glow of a 9% approval rating, the President signed an Executive Order giving them a raise.   Way to go.  Job well done.  Almost.

In the midst of all of these shenanigans, the pundits, and a few members of Congress likened the fiscal cliff scenario to that of the final scene in “Thelma and Louise”.   I don’t know what movie they were watching, but they certainly flatter themselves if they believe that anything they did in the past few months was even remotely close to what happened to those two film characters.   Thelma and Louise made the decision to go over that cliff together, with their hands clasped in solidarity.   In fact, every decision they made was the result of an agreement between them, and the only time they hurt anyone was in self-defense.

A better analogy might be Toonces the Driving Cat.   You see, Toonces drove over cliffs all the time, often with passengers along for the ride.  He was reckless and drove too fast, without any thought of the consequences of his actions.  He had a terrible time even getting his driver’s license in the first place.  That’s how bad he was behind the wheel.   But Toonces, just like the folks in Washington, got right back in the driver’s seat and aimed that Dodge towards the same cliff, over and over.   The owners of that cat, much like the voters in this Country, rewarded his bad behavior by handing over the keys, often sitting right next to him while he drove, even when the car was about ready for the junkyard.   The good news is that Toonces is long gone, his nine lives were spent years ago.  Too bad we still choose the same fat cats in Washington, the ones we still let drive the car.


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23 Responses to Congress, A Cliff and A Cat

  1. Buttercream says:

    Empress = Well said – thank you for taking the time to research and keep on top of the Fiscal Cliff debacle … I remember Toonces the Cat – great analogy with using this visual, too!
    Disgusted with POTUS was in the air and gone out of DC less than 30 minutes after the agreement to Hawaii at the cost of 4 million to the tax payers … getting sick of Congress and their Pork Belly rolls of fat while the rest of us juggle paying the monthly bills and wonder if retirement is an option with all these taxes … they all need to be fired and a clean sweep in the back door dealings with Congress … they are a septic sewer back up that stinks …. pull the plug on Congress!

    • The President wasn’t the only one beating feet out of D.C. If Governor Christie, among others, hadn’t gone on a very public rant, the House Speaker would have been more than happy to further delay a vote for the Hurricane Sandy relief package.

  2. melthehound says:

    Empress, that Toonses analogy was perfect and far better than anything I could have come up with in any rant I might offer. If they are really comparing themselves to Thelma and Louise, they might do well to remember that when those two characters drove over the cliff, it was to their deaths. Maybe for our government, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea now that I think of it.

    • mth, I used to argue like crazy against term limits, thinking that Americans could sort out the good from the bad. Now, I’ve done a complete 180. It shouldn’t stop with just term limits, but those we elect should also serve on a part-time basis, going back to their home states to work real jobs. Our founding fathers never expected Congress to be a full-time job or lifetime career.

      • melthehound says:

        Probably for as long as you argued against term limits, I’ve argued for them. I don’t know if our paths have ever crossed on that battlefield though 😉

      • FLG (Mr. Benji's Butler) says:

        Empress, let’s not forget the staffers, those who “ensure a smooth transition” from one term to another……. I think their terms could use some limiting, too.

  3. Happy Holidays Aiken!! Thanks for everything you do for us. You’re an extre

  4. Happy Holidays Aiken! Thanks for everything you do! You’re an extremely intelligent young lady and we are blessed to have you!!

  5. Mary Beth says:

    Actually, you’ve been paying $7/gallon for milk for a long time. No, you are not paying $7/gallon at the supermarket checkout. But your tax dollars pay for the dairy price subsidy that requires the federal government to buy milk at inflated prices. And the cereal you pour that milk on may cost $3.50 at the checkout, but your taxes pay for corn subsidies (5 billion/year in direct subsidies), wheat subsidies….altogether about 10 billion/year in direct agricultural subsidies.

    And 66 days after Sandy, Congress refuses to even vote on storm relief. Guess if we lived in Tornado Alley or the states that usually get hit by hurricanes, the money would be flowing by now. But no. The Blue states are being punished but good. Most of the federal money comes FROM the Blue states and goes TO the Red States. But for voting for Democrats, we are being punished. I think the Blue States should divorce the Red States.

    • melthehound says:

      Sorry Mary Beth but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. I’m not saying everyone who has asked has received but many have.

    • Mary Beth, I understand that the Farm Bill includes government subsidies for dairy and other farmers. The taxes would still be collected, they always are, but the subsidies would have stopped, effectively making the price of that gallon of milk about $11.
      As for the Hurricane relief, as I stated upthread, Speaker Boehner has been shamed into action, conceding at least part of the money promised, in a vote to be held later this week.
      On a personal note, I think that as long as we keep referring to each other as Red States and Blue States, and other equally colorful, and sometimes, less polite terms, then we probably will be headed for divorce. When we revert to stereotypes and preconceived notions, thinking we know all about each other by what part of the country we live in, then the government, as it exists right now, really has won.
      I may look at things with a little side-eye, and criticize the government, but I haven’t reached complete cynicism.

      • Mary Beth says:

        Yes, the Farm Bill has been extended. And it is also true that even if they stop the subsidies, you won’t get that money back by way of a tax reduction. So then you would be paying both $7/gallon and the same amount in taxes, but the taxes would go to something else.

        I agree that those terms are polarized, but they reflect reality. They didn’t cause polarization. It happened. Those terms are just convenient descriptors. I may not like some government policies very much and right now, I sure don’t like the government and especially the Congress. Not a big fan of the Court right now, especially Citizens United. I would much rather we have a parliamentary system and much shorter campaigns. But unlike people in some parts of the country, I don’t regard government as the enemy. I don’t hate the government. People who hate the government should go find one they like better. I’ll bet they can’t.

        MTH – what FEMA provided is the routine assistance that FEMA provides after natural disasters. FEMA comes in to provide critical assistance but is not responsible for long-term rebuilding. The testimony you pointed to says nothing different.

  6. nohausfrau says:

    Happy New Year Empress and all! Thanks for a well-reasoned summary of the debacle of the end of the year. I haven’t thought about Toonce in years but what an apt metaphor for the craziness that is our government these days.

  7. FLG (Mr. Benji's Butler) says:

    Empress, I have said for years that Congressional and Senate salaries should be no more than the median income of the district/state they represent. Perhaps then, they would better understand what the rest of us, who do pay their salaries, are facing. What do you think?

    • It’s a good place to start, and I think that there’s a whole list of things they should be doing differently if they’re really supposed to be “representing” us. They’ve got a pretty nifty pension plan that none of us could ever dream of having. Stay in office for 5 years, reach age 62 and you’re eligible for an annual retirement in the neighborhood of $85,000. Hell, I’d throw my hat in the ring for that kind of money and I don’t think I’d do half the damage some of those folks are doing.

  8. Mary Beth says:

    Empress – I thought you’d enjoy this column by Bill Maher. He plagiarized you!

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