Nickel and Dollared

The current debt ceiling crisis being fought out in Congress pertains to those most essential of government issues: revenue and spending. Unfortunately, these issues are being negotiated such that decreases in spending are receiving all the emphasis, with possibilities in increasing revenue completely ignored or, for many representatives, discarded out of hand. I cannot at all understand the idiocy that has driven so many "conservative" politicians to ideologically abhor the notion that the government should take in money. Opposition to any new taxation may be a popular stance, but opposition to any sort of increase in revenue - either by closing tax loopholes or otherwise - is absolute stupidity. Republicans constantly pound upon the idea that they are fiscally responsible, ready to balance budgets wherever and whenever they are in power. Not only is this ludicrously false, but their attitude that it is better to destroy a hundred programs before taking a dime more in taxes reveals even more how little they wish to stabilize the government. Not increasing revenues not only makes it nearly impossible to close deficits and challenge debt, but it also dooms a government to shrinkage and even collapse - something one cannot help but think many Americans actually desire.

This reactionary maelstrom of congressional idiocy has been compounded by the spinelessness of the President and his party. Clearly the Democrats believe they can achieve a political rout by presenting themselves as rational and compromising in this crisis, differentiating themselves from the lunatics on the other side who can't do anything constructive. These sort of tactics have failed time and again for the Democrats, and it's easy to see why: Giving in so much has made the point of "compromise" a position so far to the right that no liberal with so much as a brainstem could be happy with the situation. I think it may be as clear as ever that Americans want and need a third political party; unfortunately, the chances of this happening seem slim.

It would have been nice if addressing the essential issue of our nation's finances also brought into discussion the imbalance in Americans' financial burdens. Even if increased taxation was a serious topic on the table, representatives would need to be urged to change the proportions in which citizens support the government: currently, a huge amount of weight lies on the American middle and working classes; the super-rich and huge corporations pay up much less by comparison. Take me for example: Since I only work full-time for three and a half months a year, my yearly earnings place me far below the poverty line (if I wasn't still living at home, of course). Nevertheless, each of my paychecks is pounded with huge withholdings, and in sum my wages get taxed well over 10%. Personally, I can handle this money being lost; I'll be in debt after I'm done with college anyway. For those with similar jobs to mine who are constantly paying for their house, groceries and other needs, however, I can't imagine how unjust it must feel to have so much taken away. With all their tax breaks and loopholes, it's likely that many highly profitable businesses pay far less than I do as a percentage of their earnings.

Even if Congress could rationally deal with our nation's finances, the truth is that they are a long way from being willing to address the needs of common Americans. Every day, those most in need are being nickel and dollared by the government, even as services to assist them are likely on the chopping block. The U.S. government desperately needs to look at how it disproportionally burdens Americans, and doing that, the necessity of drastic change should soon become painfully clear.

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