Shoddy political theater distracts people with vague demons called debt ceiling, fiscal cliff and now, sequester. Party leaders posture for major donors, media boosters and the faithful. They claim to save us from the demons. Meanwhile, backstage they all agree on austerity as the “necessary” response to “our major problem,” namely federal budget “imbalance.” “We” are spending “beyond our means,” accumulating “government debts.” So “we” must raise taxes and cut spending – impose austerity – to regain balance.
On January 1, payroll taxes rose (from 4.2 to 6.2 percent) for 150 million Americans. Their checks shrank as that regressive tax became more so. Obama’s hyped “tax increase for the rich” was comparatively trivial. It affected only the very few Americans earning over $450,000, raising their top tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Our leaders hope we forgot the 1950s and 1960s, when the top tax rate was 91 percent. On March 1,