As the Christmas break approaches, I thought that our elected representatives in Washington had pulled all the stupid stunts they could for the year. Over the holidays, we would finally get a break from their constant infringements on our rights and liberties.
Little did I know that our elected representatives still had some gunpowder left. In what has to be one of the most nonsensical acts of legislation, the Senate passed a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for two months.
To pay for this, they will increase monthly mortgage payments for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sponsored mortgages by $15 a month. This increases the cost of home ownership for those trying to buy a house or refinance their existing house. Furthermore, it will take almost 20 years to recover the Bush tax cut monies through the mortgage "fee" which is really a tax. Two months of benefit, followed by 20 years of pain.
I am trying very hard to understand the purpose behind this legislation. The Democrats control the Senate. They say that they want to reduce unemployment. They also say that they want to end the housing crisis. Either they are speaking out of both sides of their mouths or they have a political purpose in mind. It is possible that they are trying to get the Republicans to vote against extending the tax cuts for two more months. Then the Democrats can claim in the 2012 election that the Republicans, who are promoting tax cuts, voted down a measure to extend tax cuts for all. The fact that it was just for 2 months is irrelevant. That it increases the cost of homeownership is irrelevant. I conclude that this is simply a political move and I pray that the Republicans will not pass this legislation in the House.
While I believe an extension of the tax cuts would be nice, it is more important that we address government spending. I see no problem with taxes going up a little bit in the new year if by doing so we can cut the size of government and force some redundant civil servants into retirement. A tax cut only affects those who are working and paying taxes. With so many people unemployed or underemployed, the impact of the tax increase will be minimal. On the other hand, the mortgage fee increase could stall the recovery of the housing market.
In November, we finally had a significant increase in new housing starts (9 percent). This not only means more jobs, but sales of other goods such as appliances and furniture will increase. The new mortgage fee could stymie this fragile recovery. I know how it feels to be rejected by a bank. When I went to my bank for a mortgage on my first house, it was declined because I needed to earn $5 more a month. Such a small amount was a very large hurdle to the bank. I was fortunate that another financial institution had faith in me and gave me the mortgage. I got my first house and used it as a stepping-stone to economic self-sufficiency. The fat cats in Washington may think that a $15 a month fee is a very small increase.
To a young family struggling to buy their first house, the increase may make the difference between getting the house or being rejected. Clearly the Senate as a whole is dumber than dirt. The senators have forgotten what it is like to be a member of the working poor striving to uplift themselves in a difficult economy.
Not to be outdone, the House of Representatives has their own version of insanity. Turns out that our congressmen may not wish us Merry Christmas. Any reference to the Christmas holiday in constituent communications will result in them losing their franking privileges (postage) for that communication. Furthermore, they cannot wish their constituents Happy New Year or a Happy Hanukkah. All they can say is "Have a safe and happy holiday season." (http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltwayconfidential/ congressmen-cant-say-merry-christmas-mail/261466). Obviously the franking committee should read the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of religion.
We have more problems to worry about than a Christmas or Hanukkah card being sent by our representatives. If our government were filled with the Christmas spirit this country would be in a far better place. Instead, the Christmas Nazis are ruining yet another holiday tradition, the Christmas message from our elected representatives. We threw the British out of this country over the Stamp tax. Now our politicians can't wish us Merry Christmas because of the lack of a stamp!
While the politicians are arguing about Christmas and Hanukkah cards, they have not passed the budget in over 2 years. It seems they prefer continuing resolutions rather than specifically funding government operations. The lack of a budget means that there are no constraints on the growth of government departments and the overall size of government. As an example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expanding its powers so that it can implement the United Nations sustainable development program.
This program was never approved by Congress and will place significant resource constraints on businesses, communities and individuals. The government by the people and for the people has morphed into government by agencies that pass regulations to further expand the agency's powers. Congress should focus on controlling all agencies but most importantly the EPA and the FDA. In my fantasy world, I want to believe that government works for the people. In reality they work for themselves and perpetuating and expanding their own empires.
So while our Congressman and our President may not wish you a Merry Christmas, I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year. May 2012 bring sanity to Congress, peace to our nation and the jobs we so desperately need.
©2011 Gordon Smith – All Rights Reserved