'Fiscal cliff' vote merely kicked can down road

The congressional vote to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff was a delaying tactic in an artificially created budget crisis that merely kicked the can down the road, delaying the tough choices that will be made to cut federal spending.

While the distorted discourse surrounding the "fiscal cliff" debacle has focused mainly on the false representation that Social Security and Medicare are the cause of our financial woes, in reality there is plenty of money to provide for the basic needs of the American people -- including Social Security and Medicare, as well as jobs, housing, food security and infrastructure modernization.

The Pentagon budget has increased by 95 percent since 2000. More than two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the U.S. annually spends more in inflation-adjusted dollars than at the height of the Cold War, including on nuclear weapons programs -- a total of more than $700 billion.

Do the math. As Rep. Barbara Lee has declared, it's time to "toss wasteful defense programs off the cliff."

Jacqueline Cabasso

Executive director, Western States Legal Foundation Oakland

Solution was an absolute joke

The "fiscal cliff" solution is a joke. Congress raises some taxes, then adds so much pork -- like giving special cuts to the movie industry, rum manufacturing companies and NASCAR.

How come Congress has to go to the last minute before passing the budget or debt ceiling? It keeps taxing the middle class, but do lawmakers take a salary cut or stop traveling all over the place? How much does it cost when the president makes a trip?

The trouble with Congress is that it is made up mostly of lawyers, and those people always need to have the last word. The present Congress got us into this financial mess through spending money it doesn't have, giving foreign aid to countries that hate us, and keeping the war in the Middle East going for more than 11 years.

One way to solve the problem at the next election: Vote them out of office. Their past performance shows they can't do the job they were elected to do.

Robert V. Beaudreau

Fremont

The deal lacks vision, courage

I'm glad Congress didn't raid Social Security and Medicare for now, but it lacks the vision and courage to tax those with high incomes at rates we did during the Cold War, much less tax Wall Street transactions at any rate.

That restricts choices on spending, and it should force Congress to cut the bloated Pentagon budget, which consumes 57 percent of the discretionary budget, to protect federal investment in jobs, green energy, and safety nets for the poor.

John Lindsay-Poland

Oakland

Much more worried about long-term debt

We should not be talking about a "fiscal cliff" facing us in several months: We should be talking about facing how the U.S. will pay its debts, including spending for two wars that were paid for, for the first time in U.S. history, without any burden on the U.S. taxpayers.

Taxpayers will have to shoulder some of this debt, eventually, through higher taxes for all of us.

The Pentagon's unchecked spending without audits will have to stop. The sequestration or "fiscal cliff" solution imposes across-the-board cuts on Pentagon spending and on entitlements and other public interest spending that are not rational or in the best interests of the military or the public.

Our representatives need to fulfill their roles as holders of the purse strings and get serious about proposed deeper cuts in Pentagon spending and other cuts that protect the poor and job creation efforts.

Stephen McNeil

San Francisco

Not satisfied with the deal

I agree Congress needed to do something about the "fiscal cliff" and, therefore, am glad they voted yes on that less-than-perfect bill. But I'm not satisfied with the compromise by any means.

I'm glad the unemployed didn't get abandoned, but I'm upset oligarchs will continue to avoid estate taxes, creating a new American aristocracy.

I'm glad the poor and middle classes will retain their lower income tax rates, but I'm upset the price is that corporatocracy can still avoid paying their fair share.

I'm glad the wealthiest will now pay 13 percent more income taxes, but I'm upset that working Americans' share of payroll taxes will climb 47.6 percent with the elimination of the payroll-tax holiday.

I'm upset the wealthy still pay lower effective tax rates than working people due to the vastly favorable tax treatment of unearned vs. earned income, including escaping any Social Security taxes from investment income.

I'm upset the wealthy mostly escape the largest tax hit the working man pays through the cap on payroll taxes.

Despite this legislation, America's income disparity grows unabated.

Ed Chainey

Richmond

Cowardly failure by Congress

The recent tax legislation to avoid the "fiscal cliff" was another example of cowardly failure by Congress.

It actually increases taxes on 77 percent of Americans, yet President Obama and the media were able to sell it as "tax the rich, protect the middle class." Moreover, the revenue gained will be used for new federal spending, not paying off the debt.

Going over the so-called cliff would have been painful, but not as disastrous as the cliff looming ahead through unchecked federal spending.

Somehow, Obama, the Democrats and their media lackeys have convinced Americans that trillion dollar deficits and a $1.6 trillion dollar debt are not big problems. In keeping with this, Congress feels it can perpetually delay any meaningful action.

Many cynics believe the goal of liberal leaders is to destroy the American economy, create chaos, and produce a situation allowing a socialist takeover of the government (more fundamental change). While I don't go that far, it does make one wonder.

It's up to the Republicans in the coming months to use whatever leverage they have to force spending cuts. But will they have the courage?

Marlane Huffaker

Concord

Modest bill that will benefit some

Although I would have preferred a grand bill addressing other issues in this complicated fiscal debate -- notably, additional stimulus and tax modification -- I want to thank Reps. Jerry McNerney, Barbara Lee and George Miller for supporting the "fiscal cliff" bill.

This modest bill increases income tax for only the wealthiest, while retaining tax cuts and benefits for the rest of us. I appreciate these representatives who are sent to Washington to work for a more fair society for all of us.

Once again, as the debt ceiling debate heats up, Republicans want to talk (and take) hostages. They need some new approaches to legislation: such as formulating serious proposals.

Joan Wilson

Berkeley

'Fiscal cliff' deal will help the poor

Most of the Times articles on the congressional "fiscal cliff" vote state the deal that passed favored the Republicans. While this might be true, it is better than having taxes raised on everyone.

Some called the deal a dud regarding the deficit, saying it was paltry. But that doesn't matter. The deal that was passed was just to prevent the effects of the "fiscal cliff."

If this deal had not passed, many people would suffer -- mostly the poor.

What we all need to do is comprehend that this deal, while meager, will help a lot of people who are not financially stable.

Adrian Ponce

Richmond