There is always a touch of irony to the names politicians assign their sneakiest proposals, but the official title of this deal rushed through Congress at the midnight hour is more ironic than most: The American Taxpayer Relief Act, which turns out to relieve some well-heeled taxpayers most of all.
So much for making all those billionaires and millionaires pay their fair share. The tax lawyers, CPAs and financial planners must be lining up tax shelters even now. And there'll be plenty of safe havens to choose from thanks to the American Taxpayer Relief Act (and Tax Dodge) of 2012. Specifically, of the very last minutes of 2012.
This is our president's idea of fair taxation, even though this last-minute deal raised payroll taxes on every working stiff in the country, as anybody who draws a paycheck has now discovered, or will soon enough. If they'll just check their pay stub. If there's anything less fair than this deal that favors one special interest after another, it's the Hon. Barack Obama's description of it as some kind of great triumph for equity.
So let's hold the applause, shall we? Especially with the national debt still looming over the economy like a growing threat, and still another debate coming up soon on raising the debt limit. Well, sure, why economize when you can borrow more? Or just print more, the way the Federal Reserve has been doing? Just be sure to call it Quantitative Easing.
Mr. Mencken may have thought of himself as a cynic about politics in his time, but he hadn't seen anything yet.
It's not exactly news that to the victors of an election belong the spoils, but when the spoilsmen in Washington claim to have saved the country by passing this encyclopedic compilation of tax breaks, subsidies and special favors, they've reached a new height in hypocrisy. Or low.
Between the self-celebration of the politicians who engineered this grab and called it statesmanship, and the gullibility of the pundits who repeated that line, the extent of this gigantic giveaway may go unnoticed. It shouldn't.