The Scarlett O'Hara Theory of Government

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
by Patrick Dorinson

Congratulations to all Americans who have a job and draw a paycheck!

The Congress of the United States just voted to buy each and every one of you the equivalent of a tank of gas every month until the end of the year.

What you say?

In passing the extension of the payroll tax holiday last week the average wage earner will continue to receive an additional $40 per two week pay period or $20 a week.

The cost of a gallon of gas is either at or near $4 in many parts of the country and is predicted to go higher perhaps all the way to $5 per gallon just in time for that summer family vacation.

If you drive a large vehicle, say an SUV or Pick-up with a 20 gallon tank that works out to $80 per fill-up or exactly the amount that Congress voted to allow you to keep of your own money.

If you drive a smaller car with a 15 gallon tank, you will only pay $60 per fill-up…at least for now. You will have whopping $20 left to spend as you want.

Don’t have a job? Well there is something in this grand bargain for you.

They have extended to 99 weeks the maximum you can receive in unemployment benefits.

And if you are a doctor who treats Medicare patients, you won’t have your fees cut.

But wait there’s more to this spectacular deal!

As gas prices go up so will the cost of meat, milk, bread and probably a Double Latte at Starbucks.

How will they pay for all this?

The so-called Medicare “Doc Fix” and unemployment extension will be “paid for” through the usual phantom cuts and the kind of creative accounting that would make the Mafia blush.

And since the payroll tax cut is used to fund Social Security, Congress will merely put a $100 billion IOU into that account. Problem solved—until New Year’s Eve.

If Congress does not act by then, the Bush-era tax cuts will turn into a pumpkin at midnight, raising rates on investment income, estates and earnings at all levels. The marriage penalty will return and the child credit will be cut in half from $1,000 to $500. And the rate everyone pays on the first $8,700 in income will jump from the current 10% to 15%.

So why are they waiting for 10 months?

Our current crop of politicians operates according to the Scarlett O’Hara Theory of Government based on the main character in Margaret Mitchell’s 1938 classic “Gone with the Wind”.

Its main tenet was expressed neatly by Scarlett at the end of the movie when she said, “I’ll think about that tomorrow because after all tomorrow is another day!”

Meanwhile, the bills keep piling up, the debt is left untouched and the train wreck of the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare grow worse by the day.

But no matter Republicans and Democrats can now spend the next 10 months spending other folk’s money on a barrage of negative ads to call each other a no good skunk.

And then after the election they will face that “tomorrow” that Scarlett spoke of and fix all this tax cut business.

Let me get this straight after what will be a divisive and nasty election they will all get together and do the people’s business.

If you believe that I have some Solyndra stock to sell you.

Old Ben Franklin once said…

"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”

But Congress and the President have done just that--put off until tomorrow the inevitable day of reckoning as America’s fiscal hole gets deeper and deeper as the politicians keep digging.

Instead of following Franklin’s advice they all appear to be following Mark Twain’s cynical take on Ben’s words.

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow”.

Because after all, “Tomorrow is another day”!