It’s two a.m. –
the bars just closed.

I sit, wrapped in a black hoodie
and wonder if the black ice
caught you by surprise this time
as his hand explored
your skirt
prepping his night cap.

Did you find another
brown haired, green eyed
mother fucker
who reminds you
of our faded picture
stashed in your sock drawer?

I hope not.

Happy birthday.

ImageAs everyone already knows, we have avoided the fiscal cliff. However, what most people do not realize is that even though their income tax rates are staying the same, the payroll tax holiday has expired and was not renewed under the deal. In fact, this tax-hike on all working Americans is an increase of 2%. The holiday decreased the worker’s contribution per paycheck towards Social Security.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s tax calculator, a minimum wage ($7.80/hr.) earner’s payroll taxes will increase by around $300 next year or around $11 per paycheck if you are paid every two weeks.

While it is a step in the right direction asking the wealthiest among us to pay a little bit more so we can continue to provide a safety net, this tax hike on the working poor is a terrible move.

 I understand that this was a temporary cut in contributions, but where were the fiscal conservatives demanding that any rise in taxes will hurt the economy? And where were the progressives who are looking out for the poorest among us? This terrible oversight is just another example of how the working poor are the forgotten demographic in this country. There are two groups with very different ideologies that should agree on this very basic principle.  

The best way to keep an economy strong is provide an environment for demand. Demand will drive the supply. Middle out economics is the right way to take the country. Trickle-down economics has failed. However, we cannot forget about a very large constituency of people looking to move to the middle class. The working poor need our support, we will be a better country and a stronger economy because of it.

January 1st 2012 at 10:57 p.m. EST, the House of Representatives voted 257 vs. 167 to pass the fiscal cliff deal brokered in the Senate. President Obama has said he will sign the legislation into law. We have avoided going over the cliff and raising taxes on all Americans. What a great day to be in America!

Kind of. Don’t get me wrong, we needed a deal. We had to avoid going over the fiscal cliff because our fragile economy is still on a slippery slope in recovery. However, this bill is not the final answer and everyone involved with it knows this is true. Yes, this bill makes the Bush-era tax cuts for those making under $400,000 as an individual or $450,000 for a couple permanent and the rates for those higher earners return to the Clinton-era rates. Yes, unemployment benefits have been extended for an estimated 2 million Americans. Yes, this is a step in a much needed direction. However, this is not over.

[http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/31/news/economy/more-fiscal-cliffs/]

The debt ceiling has not been raised. You remember that fight, right? The fight that led to the downgrade from the credit bureau, the fight that entrenched Republicans have vowed never to lose again, is about to be had again. On Monday, Tim Geitner made the announcement that we have hit our current debt ceiling of $16.394 trillion. This fight will be had over the next month or two and both sides seem entrenched in their positions. With a Democratic Senate and President and a Republican House, this fight could get ugly.

There still is no Continuing Budget Resolution. The Congress is supposed to pass a budget to you know, plan how they are going to spend the money. However, they have gotten very good at not doing that. Instead, they pass continuing resolutions to patch the problem and the current patch comes off on March 27th. At that point, they will have to come up with either another patch or, perhaps pass an actual budget? However, the budget scenario seems very unlikely since they can’t seem to really work together. If a deal cannot be made, a temporary shutdown of the government is a possibility.

Finally, there is the actual fiscal cliff, the Sequester. The Sequester are the automatic spending cuts, 8-10% for most departments including defense, born from the debacle that was the debt ceiling debate in 2011. The thought was that these cuts would be so terrible that both sides would have no choice but work together and make sure they are not enacted. This bill simply postpones those for two months. We still have to actually come to an agreement about the spending cut side of the equation.

All that said, we are in a better financial position on Wednesday. We have raised revenues while protecting the income tax rates of the middle and lower class permanently. However, this is far from a finished story since the need for spending cuts and savings in government spending is still unresolved and kicked down the road for the new Congress to take care of when they take their offices.