Here it is the year's last column and the nation doesn't know if it jumped off the fiscal cliff or not and, if so, what that means as we sit around the kitchen table trying to pay our personal bills and wondering if our nation will ever get out of debt. By the way, the sport of jumping off cliffs is also known as: Tombstoning. Must be dangerous.
What we do know is that once upon a time, to get the economy going again after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush and Congress passed what are known as the Bush Tax Cuts. Here is what that did: The cuts lowered tax rates across the board on income, dividends and capital gains; eventually eliminated the estate tax; further lowered burdens on married couples, parents and the working poor; and increased tax credits for education and retirement savings.
Note that the cuts were applied across the board meaning, from immigrant taxi driver to Donald Trump, everyone got the same cut in their income tax rates. The economy responded upward across the board and grew until the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst in 2008. Unfortunately, the Bush Tax Cuts were to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. If that were allowed to happen, everyone - across the board - would suffer a tax increase at a time when a tax increase would be another blow to an already moribund economy that is operating under the shadow of a $16.4 trillion-dollar-debt - much of it to Red China.
Cliff jumping; however, has a storied past. In WW II, the Japanese propaganda machine (like today's regime media) convinced thousands of residents of Okinawa that the invading U.S. soldiers and Marines would rape and torture everyone on the island. At the urging of the Japanese military propagandists, about 25-percent of the population jumped off the cliffs of Okinawa. Later, those who did not commit suicide reported that the American occupiers were humane in their treatment of the conquered islanders. Like today, there was no need to jump off the cliff.
But if President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker John Boehner are determined to engage in Tombstoning, here are some suggested sites: Historically, Hawaii is a place where cliff jumping was a test of manhood. Given his claimed roots in Hawaii, President Obama should jump off Black Rock on Maui. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada should jump off the north side of the Hoover Dam.. Republicans want Minority Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California to jump off Tar Creek Falls - but only in the summertime. But for Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, his cliffs, like the Cleveland Browns, are rather flat. So, if the Speaker can't find a cliff for Tombstoning, the others might decide to forget about Tombstoning as well.
Seriously, we leave 2012 and begin 2013 with this quote from Cicero who wrote in 55 B.C.:
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."
Happy New Year!
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.