October 17, 2012

Editorial: Legislative crisis looms


---- — Have you had enough of politics yet? Is the steady stream of barbs and counter-barbs wearing thin? Is the non-stop sparring on television ads practically making you yearn for a monarchy?

Well, things could get even worse, unless government turns its attention away from politics and back to government: We could get hit with dizzying tax increases because of congressional inaction while members focus on the presidential election — and their own.

This is that time of year when members of Congress and the president drop just about everything in a frantic effort to save their jobs. For members of the House of Representatives, the cycle is almost comical: run for office, win, govern for a year and a half, run for office, win, govern … you see what we’re driving at.

And the presidential election is almost as important to members of Congress as their own is. That’s because they rely on popular enthusiasm for their presidential candidates to carry the ticket. It’s also because if the person in the presidency happens to belong to their party, they will be able to get more done in behalf of their constituents if they do win.

So election time is crucial to all of the members of Congress, even if they’re running unopposed.

Meanwhile, though, important business could be left undone. The Associated Press reported recently paper that we could all be in for a tax drubbing if Congress doesn’t get down to business and address expiring tax cuts.

The Tax Policy Center in Washington noted that, without legislation to make up for last year’s failure to strike a bargain on automatic spending cuts, in combination with the automatic expiration of significant tax cuts passed in the Bush era along with others, real trouble looms for all of us.

The center says rich Americans will see a tax increase of $120,000, while those in the $110,000-$140,000 range will have to pay $6,000 more. Families making $40,000 to $64,000 will face a $2,000 increase in taxes. For most, those numbers are purely unaffordable, particularly in our current economic environment.

Furthermore, because the spending cuts weren’t addressed, a return to recession is regarded as a near certainty.

These matters require immediate and decisive action. Yet the people who must initiate it are instead focused on elections.

Self-preservation is an understandable human instinct. But this is plainly irresponsible. We elect our representatives to conduct our business for us and to see we are protected from harm from within as well as without.

Election season is long and draining enough for all of us without having to endure fiscal calamity because of government inattentiveness.

Get our financial house in order. Then save yourselves.