Pray for the citizens of Newtown, Connecticut, who have experienced what no parent ever should.   Pray for the vulnerable whom have no one to protect them.  Pray for this country to find some meaning in this tragedy.

The massacre last Friday underlines the divisions in this country:  gun owners versus gun-control advocates, state’s rights versus Federal regulations, rich versus poor, Republican versus Democrat.  The only thing that unites us is our universal grief.  If only we could find common ground in the absence of stupid, senseless tragedies.

Cancel Christmas as well for those on unemployment insurance.  If we go over the so-called fiscal cliff, unemployment insurance benefits will disappear.  So will the payroll tax cut.  There will be less money in everyone’s pocket.  The earned income tax credit, the child credit as well as the tuition credit will all disappear if Congress can’t get its act together.  Instead of a nascent recovery, we’ll have yet another recession. 

The odds right now favor cliff-diving.  Not the adventure sport made famous in Acapulco or Jamaica but a sport of our own making, a consequence of not agreeing last summer on revenue hikes and spending cuts that would address the budget deficit.  It’s also a function of the contempt House Republicans hold for the President, the results of the November elections and for the rule of law.  Failing to make Barack Obama a one-term president, they are intent on obstructing jobs bills, the violence against women act and anything that would help grow the economy, including a middle-class tax break.  It is stunningly unpatriotic and anti-American. 

But, in spite of all the interference, the economy is growing. The housing market is stabilizing.  Jobs are being created and the stock market is higher year-to-date.  With two trading weeks remaining in 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is closing in on a 6% gain, the S&P 500 posting a 10.7% year-to-date pick-up and the NASDAQ on pace for a 12.2% advance.  Interest rates and inflation remain low, while consumer confidence is on the rise.  In spite of everything, we are better off than we were even four years ago. 

That goes for corporate profits; for major money center banks that were deemed too big to fail; that even goes for tax rates.  Under President Obama, corporate profits have soared nearly 80%, the best performance under a president since Warren G. Harding.  Since the 2008 financial collapse, corporate profits have grown at an average of 6.8% annually.  The too big-to-fail banks are getting bigger while trying to water-down financial reform.  Wall Street is even pushing the idea of having the most prominent CEO critic of financial reform named as the Secretary of Treasury.  How did that work the last few times?  Total corporate taxes paid in fiscal year 2011 were 12.1% of profits, their lowest since 1972, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  As a percent of GDP, corporate profits have fallen to just 2%, versus 6% in the 1950s. 

So cancel Christmas.  Presents can’t fill the hearts of those who lost loved ones in Newtown, Connecticut and all across America.  Cancel Christmas for corporations; they’ve already received their gifts.  And most definitely cancel Christmas for Congress.  Place a lump of coal in their stocking for being very, very bad in 2012.  And if they persist in driving us over the fiscal cliff, cancel their paychecks and benefits for 2013.  No one should get paid for work they don’t perform.  As fiscal conservatives, I’m sure they would agree with that.

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