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The pathetic US Senate

It is almost impossible to believe that the US Senate has failed to reach a solution to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff". The ramifications of this abject failure will have rippling effects, and not only in America. Perhaps, just perhaps, after the new year, fiscal responsibility will prevail in the USA. There is no such thing as a free lunch - which Americans, or certainly those in power, seem to have forgotten. And of course there are all those powerful CEO-types and monied people who will have nothing of seeing anything curbing the good life (be it tax benefits or whatever) they enjoy. Let the general public "eat cake" as was once so famously said by Marie Antoinette.

The New York Times provides a background to the present impasse...

"The titanic struggle over how to reach a broad Congressional tax agreement is not just the latest partisan showdown, but rather the culmination of two years of escalating fiscal confrontations, each building on the other in its gravity and consequences. On Sunday, lawmakers could not seem to find one final way out.

From the first fight over a short-term spending agreement to keep the government open in early 2011 to the later tangle over the debt ceiling to the failure of last year’s special budget committee and the resulting automatic spending cuts that now loom along with tax increases, the so-called fiscal cliff was built, slab by partisan slab, to where it now threatens the nation’s finances.

“Something has gone terribly wrong,” said Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, “when the biggest threat to our American economy is the American Congress.”

Years of increased spending on everything from wars to expanded entitlement programs — combined with protracted, stubborn unemployment and a nation of workers whose earning power and home values have plummeted in recent years — have persuaded lawmakers in both parties that fiscal policy is the most pressing domestic concern.

But a fundamental ideological chasm between the majority of lawmakers and an empowered group of Congressional Republicans — fueled by some Tea Party victories in both chambers in 2010 — has made it more difficult than ever to reach fiscal and budgetary compromises."



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