It doesn't matter. It's Kabuki Theatre. Performance Art. It's fun to watch them put on their black leather outfits, dance, and recite reverse Led Zepellin lyrics in front of a Solyndra Stockholders Powerpoint presentations, but it's meaningless. A fun distraction. They're doing what you've elected them to do.
Here's why this is all nothing but sound and fury and electric razors on gongs. This is from a recent Wall Street Journal essay by two Clinton administration economists. I hope you'll go here and read the whole thing. They lament that Uncle Sam doesn't have to keep books the way that a private business is required to. Uncle Sam doesn't have to show future liabilities.
All discussion of our 17 trillion dollar debt is based on rosier-than-likely scenarios. Because within my lifetime, the U.S. government is going to have to come up with 86 trillion dollars to cover the IOU's our elected "artists" have spread across the nation and the world. Here are the money quotes from the article:
When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. That is the total of the average annual accrued liabilities of just the two largest entitlement programs, plus the annual cash deficit.In other words, they can tax the rich, the middle-class, the poor, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Wal-Mart, your Mama, Starbucks, and every other person, business and entity for 100% of their taxable income, and it won't even come close to closing the gap.
Nothing like that $8 trillion amount is available for the IRS to target. According to the most recent tax data, all individuals filing tax returns in America and earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2006, when corporate taxable income peaked before the recession, all corporations in the U.S. had total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion. That comes to $6.7 trillion available to tax from these individuals and corporations under existing tax laws.
In short, if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities. Some public officials and pundits claim we can dig our way out through tax increases on upper-income earners, or even all taxpayers. In reality, that would amount to bailing out the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon.
So when you turn on your TV and see Nancy Pelosi wearing a corset made of sardine bones, holding a velvet whip in one hand and reading the works of John Maynard Keynes from a pink iPhone held in the other, it's just Performance Art. There are no true spending cuts on the table, just reductions in future increases.
When some Republican hack goes on Fox News via a video montage of his baby pictures, the Pakistan war dead, and a collage of tax rate charts, all to justify his violation of the Grover Norquist pledge, it's just Performance Art. It doesn't matter.
Eat, drink, and be merry. And do it in black leather. Or put on a Yoko Ono CD and dip your head in blue wax. Whatever you think will make an appropriate statement.
We are all so very, very screwed.