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Vail Daily letter: This joke’s not funny

Jim Cameron
Vail, CO, Colorado

Comedy Central is a cable TV channel, and one well worth watching if the daily grind robs you of your humor. The name of this channel could well have originated from someone observing the behavior of our Congress over the past decade. Songwriter Stephen Sondheim wrote “Send in the Clowns” for the 1973 broadway hit “A Little Night Music.” As Sondheim later explained, the clowns were not circus clowns but fools, which makes the song all the more intriguing.

The Congressional Budget Office issued a preliminary analysis recently that repeal of “Obamacare” will increase the national deficit by $230 billion by 2021. So, we can insure an additional 30 million of our citizens or we can repeal health care reform; deny coverage to 30 million currently uninsured and increase the deficit. Brilliant!

The new GOP-controlled House of Representatives, in what is widely seen as a symbolic gesture, will vote to repeal health care in the next week or two.



Wait! Wasn’t the GOP the party that ran on a platform that reducing the national deficit was the No. 1 priority, along with job creation (that the outgoing Congress solved by extending tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans)?

Our tax dollars are about to be spent on a Congress wasting its time on symbolic gestures? Send in the clowns? That’s all right, they are already here.



Other news focused on the 48 newly elected tea party-favored candidates who (symbolically) will vote to block raising the national debt limit. Enough with the symbolism on the taxpayers’ dime. What would happen if the U.S. defaulted on our debt held by foreign countries? How would like your banana, republic? Flambe(d), grilled, baked or fried?

The GOP also promised a $100 billion reduction in the coming year’s fiscal budget — not a large number in terms of annual budgets. However, the cuts would not impact military spending, veterans benefits (a good thing), domestic security, Social Security or Medicare.

So the $100 billion would be sacrificed from those areas of the federal budget that constitute 17 percent of the total budget. And what are those areas? Education, transportation, law enforcement and medical and scientific research, among others.



Where to start? How about civilian air traffic controllers? Who needs these people? Aren’t these planes equipped with sophisticated navigation equipment? I mean, the pilots know where they are and they know where the airports are.

So what if there is an occasional mid-air collusion from time to time. Austerity can’t come without a price.

Well, it looks like the air traffic controllers may be spared. Just a few days into the new Congress and the GOP has shrunk the $100 billion in budget cuts to maybe $30 billion — and that’s before any debate. Wait! Wasn’t the GOP the party … ?

And what happened to reigning in entitlements — Social Security and Medicare? The various commissions and think tanks that have promoted policies to reduce the national deficit have pushed these “third rail” inflammable topics way out into the future — as far out as 2075.

I have a question. Why should Americans who haven’t yet been born pay for the excesses of Americans who have not yet died? This is the coward’s way out.

I become Medicare eligible in April and will start Social Security at the same time, one year before full benefit age. I am willing to sacrifice some of my benefits even as they start. And if every year of beneficiaries makes the same small sacrifice between now 2075, our progeny, and their progeny, and their progeny will not be asked to bear a cross not of their making.

Just wishful thinking. Keeping with the lyrics of my theme song: Maybe next year.

Jim Cameron

Avon


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