New Year same old drama, and unfortunately this isn’t the Real Housewives. Despite the aura of change that ushering a new year brings for many, Congress reminds us that politics comes before people. It ended 2012 bickering over changes to the tax code, holding steadfast to their ideology without any regard to the people’s re-election of President Obama. The bickering carried on into the New Year, despite passing Amendments to the tax code in the Senate and the House of Representatives. And the House postponed consideration of federal aid to millions suffering from Hurricane Sandy, leaving many to presume that their bickering is more important than the people they pledged to represent. These events are enough for a month of reality television. The only problem is that it is not entertaining.
Aside from the increase in tax rates for individuals with income over $400,000 and families earning more than $450,000, the tax code Amendments, H.R. 8 also extends the following deductions and credits:
- Expenses for School Teachers
- Mortgage Interest
- Dividends from certain investment companies
- Research and Development Tax Credit for Businesses
- Alternative fuels tax credits
- Child Tax Credit (5 year extension)
The legislation also extends unemployment compensation benefits and services, and changes the middle class tax brackets to 28%, 31%, and 36%. The tax rate is capped at 39.6%
So who or what is to blame for the behavior or our congressional leaders? Is it the transparency of government? The Tea Party? Pride? Or the media’s need to sensationalize for ratings? And can “we the people” do anymore than vote to force collaborative leadership rather than ideological bickering? In other words, does democracy mean we relinquish our voice to elected representation or we use the representation to adhere to our voices?