Sensible musings from New York’s OTHER news daily….
’Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House (and Senate), not a creature was stirring — except for the typical Washington finger-pointers.
You seriously expected something different?
Holiday season or no, there’s another fiscal “crisis” — this time over whether the so-called Social Security payroll-tax “holiday” (and unemployment benefits extension) should continue for another two months — or for 12.
The Senate passed a shorter extension; the House, a longer one. The blame-gaming revolves around a general inability to reach a “compromise.”
If there is no deal, the average worker, come Jan. 1, faces an extra $1,000 in taxes next year.
No, it’s not an insignificant amount.
But it’s actually thin gruel considering thebigissues affecting the nation that President Obama and the 535 members of Congress have managed to duck this year:
* Social Security (the disability portion of the program, in particular) is teetering on the edge of insolvency. Indeed, a case can be made that the payroll-tax cut — regardless of whatever arguable short-term boost it might give the economy — damages the long-term integrity of the Social Security “trust fund,” which after all is funded by payroll taxes.
* Medicare — another entitlement dependent on payroll taxes — also needs serious reform. The House passed one such measure earlier this year — which the Senate promptly killed.
And a bipartisan version introduced by House Republican Paul Ryan and Senate Democrat Ron Wyden has been dismissed out of hand by most Democrats.
* It’s been nearlythreeyears since the Senate passed a budget. (House Democrats didn’t pass one in 2010; Senate Democrats rejected the House GOP version this year — without offering an alternative.)
And US debt has soared well over $15 trillion — despite the debt-ceiling battle last summer that culminated in a downgrade.
No wonder that poll after poll shows the low regard — utter contempt, actually — that the public has for Congress.
That opinion is well-earned.
CRITIC’S CORNER THURSDAY: ‘X FACTOR’, ‘PREP AND LANDING’ – Robert Bianco @ USA Today
Outside of Fox, which thinks it can counter the holiday spirit with the finale of The X Factor (8 ET/PT), most of the networks have checked out for the night, at least when it comes to original programming.
But if you’re looking for an entertaining seasonal repeat, ABC reruns its two Prep & Landing (8 ET/PT) specials.
They’re no Charlie Brown, but kids should enjoy them.
Want something else to watch with the kids? Animal Planet repeats the marvelous Planet Earth (8 ET/PT).
If you got a new HDTV as an early present, here’s a program that will show it off.
On the other hand, you don’t need HD to appreciate the pleasures TCM has in store tonight.
Even on the smallest screen, the wit, sparkle and old-school Hollywood star power of The Thin Man (8 ET/5 PT) and After the Thin Man (9:45 ET/6:45 PT) will shine through.
On HGTV’s almost endlessly fascinating duo of House Hunters (10 ET/PT) and House Hunters International(10:30 ET/PT), we follow someone who wants to chuck it all and start a cheese farm in Nepal.
Odds are most of us have had days at work when we can sympathize.