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WELCOME TO THE FISCAL CLIFF: UNCLE SAM DIPS INTO YOUR PAYCHECK FOR MORE … EXCEPT IF YOU’RE A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE … BIANCHI & ‘WHAT’S A POLITICIAN?’ … bobbyd’s SON GETS IT … plus … BOEHNER SALTS UP FISCAL CRISIS FIASCO; ‘WINNERS’ & LOSERS IN THE LAST-MINUTE DEAL TO AVOID PLUNGING OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JAN. 11, 2013) — Did the eagle shit for you since the beginning of the New Year? N0, we don’t mean the Boring Broadsheet excreting its usual combination of local celebrity worship, “I, Pretentious,” non-news, and puff pieces on how everything is great in the local economy and school system. We mean your paycheck … if, that is, you are lucky enough to be drawing a paycheck. If so, you got your first street-level taste of the 112th Congress’ inability to reach compromise on the so-called Fiscal Cliff.

Welcome to the feds taking a bigger chunk of your money — YOUR money — via an increase in the Social Security payroll tax, which went up after the clowns in D.C. couldn’t decide on anything more important than how much salt to lace into the pork. If you make $50,000 a year, congratulations! You’re now taking home $38.46 less per two-week paycheck, or about $1,000 a year.

Death by 1,000 Cuts … and Bianchi

The standard justification when this sort of thing happens in Pittsfield is the death by a 1,000 cuts. Each one individually doesn’t kill, and thus you hear, “An extra $____ (fill in the amount) doesn’t hurt anybody.”  And in case you didn’t realize it, but the last time your Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield City Council had a chance at Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s budget, they said “yes,” to another round of tax hikes.

Your “prudent” politicians coming to your rescue again.

Bianchi ran on thing major planks of a bland, sanded-floor platform: (1) fiscal restraint and (2) transparency. You knew he didn’t mean a word of it. Naturally, upon getting the keys to the car, he turned into a Politician, a lying, Eddie Haskell type who caves in to all the Special Interests and GOBs while turning a deaf ear on We The People. Bianchi’s “fiscal restraint” turned out to be another steep take hike for both homeowners and businesses while increasing Pittsfield bottom line cost of government by millions. His transparency has meant more secrecy than the KGB during the Cold War.

How, we wonder, could Peter Marchetti have lost to Dan Bianchi? Actually, that is a rhetorical question to which we know the answer. This election was Marchetti’s for the taking, but deep down, Pete didn’t want to take it. Marchetti ran for mayor because others wanted him to run for mayor. In the final analysis, Marchetti didn’t want it and thus pulled off a reverse engineered “victory.” In his own mind, we gather, he won by losing.

What’s a ‘Politician’

“He turned into a politician.” Ugh, what a fate. What’s a politician? Here’s a little story that might help:

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, “What is politics?”Dad says, “Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I’m the breadwinner of the family, so let’s call me capitalism. Your Mom, she’s the administrator of the money, so we’ll call her the Government. We’re here to take care of your needs, so we’ll call you the people. The nanny, we’ll consider her the Working Class. And your baby brother, we’ll call him the Future. Now, think about that and see if that makes sense,”So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what dad had said.Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parents’ room and finds his mother sound asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny’s room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed. The next morning, the little boy says to his father, “Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now.”The father says, “Good son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.”The little boy replies, “Well, while Capitalism is screwing the Working Class, the Government is sound asleep, the People are being ignored and the Future is in deep poo.”

Social Security Payments: They Don’t Come from the Money Tree … but Some Public Employees Don’t Realize That

Back to the Social Security payroll tax: The 6.2% is bad enough if you work for someone else, if you’re George Jetson to Mr. Spacely. If you’re self-employed, you pay not just for employees but for yourself. THE PLANET is well familiar with the 12.4% tax, having paid it as a business owner for more than 30 years.

We have to laugh. In our recent posts about the average compensation for teachers in the city of Pittsfield ($86,200 by the end of the present contract), we got into quite the discussion with a teacher who, shall we say, disagreed with our take on things. That’s cool, by the way. As you know by now, THE PLANET loves a good debate, the badder the better. Our friend made the point, in justification of the compensation package, that unlike those in the Dreaded Private Sector, he (along with other public employees) received no Social Security.

“Seriously?” we asked him. Then we proceeded to make the point that, yes, unlike him, we shall enjoy Social Security payments, but guess what? Guess where that money came from? It came from Uncle Sam raiding our paycheck for our entire working career. The feds took the money straight out of our pay, money our teacher friend got to use or abuse as he (not uncle Sam) saw fit. Our friend had no comeback.

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bobbyd’s SON HAD AN ACCURATE BEAD ON THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Another of our teacher friends in the Pittsfield Public School system is “bobbyd,” who has made a name for himself with his excellent contributions to the discussions on this site. Sometimes bobbyd agrees with us, sometimes not, but always, he has valid points to make, which he does in a well-reasoned, factually based manner.

Yesterday, someone asked bobbyd what he thought of the Pittsfield School Committee. bobbyd began his answer this way:

“My 16-year-old LOVES watching the school committee. He finds it more entertaining than wrestling.”

You can read the rest of bobbyd’s answer in the comments section of Thursday’s PLANET.

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A RELATED PIECE FROM THE TAX POLICY CENTER

THE PLANET presents this article from the Internet (Reuters):

The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington research group, estimates that 77 percent of American households will face higher federal taxes in 2013 under the agreement negotiated between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans. High-income families will feel the biggest tax increases, but many middle- and low-income families will pay higher taxes too.

The fiscal austerity crisis has been temporarily averted, but given the apparent animosity between the current leaders of Congress its a miracle that any deal was made at all. Politico has a rather lengthy breakdown of the last week or so of negotiations that led to last night’s budget bill and it leads off with an anecdote illustrating the current state of American politics. As they arrived for a much-hyped meeting with the President last Friday afternoon, Speaker of the House John Boehner spotted House Majority Leader Harry Reid approaching just steps from the Oval Office. According to “multiple sources,” Boehner pointed his finger at Reid and without any other fanfare said, “Go fuck yourself.” When Reid asked him what he was talking about, Boehner simply repeated his curse and moved on.

RELATED: House to Vote on ‘Shutdown Prevention Act,’ Won’t Prevent Shutdown

To be fair to Boehner, just hours earlier Reid had called him a dictator on the floor of the Senate, telling the whole country in a widely-televised speech that the Speaker cared more about protecting his job than doing what was right for the American people. And it won’t be the first nor the last time a Congressperson swore a fellow lawmaker. Still, it maybe helps explain why the two sides seem more intent on destorying each other than actually passing useful laws.

RELATED: Boehner and Pelosi Agree: Neither Wants to Go to Camp David

The Politico story also has plenty of other tidbits on the back room shenanigans the lead to the deal, if you’re into that sort of thing.

—– 00 —–

Middle and lower-income taxpayers are the main beneficiaries of the fiscal-cliff deal, but there are other winners—and losers—of the last-minute scramble to avert scheduled tax increases and spending cuts. The gridlock leading up to the deal dimmed the country’s already dim view of Congress. Lawmakers aren’t going to get the grand deficit-reduction bargain they had hoped for. And although an economic crisis may have been averted, the final deal sets the stage for another debt-ceiling showdown.

Winners:

‘Middle-Class’ Taxpayers. With the Bush tax cuts set to extend for individuals making less than $400,000, middle- and upper-middle class taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief. The Alternative Minimum Tax will be permanently lifted to reflect inflation, sparing close to 30 million taxpayers from a tax increase. The tax relief isn’t total, however: The payroll tax cut won’t be extended for another year, meaning that working Americans will see their paychecks reduced in 2013. But it could have been worse.

President Obama and Vice President Biden. President Obama made the fiscal cliff negotiations all about taxes, repeating the call for tax increases on the rich and tax cuts for the middle class that helped him win reelection. Although the final deal is less than the president had hoped for, he gets to say he kept his campaign promise to protect middle-class Americans. He also gets to renew key tax cuts passed as part of his 2009 stimulus package and to extend unemployment insurance. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden can revel in the crucial role he played in last-minute discussions with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The wily legislator who once pledged to block President Obama at every turn has proved, once again, to be a crucial deal-maker between the White House and Congress. Initially sidelined as negotiations focused on President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, McConnell stepped forward at the last minute to help craft legislation that Republicans could support.

AARP. Seniors—and the lobbyists who represent them—won’t be feeling the pain of entitlement cuts come January, despite initial insistence from Republican lawmakers that significant cuts to Medicare or Social Security be part of a fiscal cliff deal. The battle to prevent a switch to chained CPI, a metric that would reduce the growth of Social Security payments, has been won, at least for now.

Losers:

Deficit Hawks. Going over the fiscal cliff would have significantly reduced the deficit, combining cuts to domestic and military spending with tax hikes on pretty much everyone. The last-minute deal reached by Washington negotiators lifted taxes on the wealthiest Americans and didn’t do anything to cut spending.

Speaker Boehner’s Plan B. Speaker Boehner’s attempt to rally his caucus behind an alternate cliff deal, dubbed “Plan B,” failed miserably: a bad sign of the Ohio Republican’s ability to put forward an alternative that his caucus could take seriously. Boehner’s plan included too many tax increases and not enough spending cuts for Republicans to stomach—and it seemed to temporarily stall negotiations.

The U.S. Treasury. The United States hit its borrowing limit on Monday, and lawmakers failed to include raising the limit as part of the cliff deal. The Treasury Department will enact what it calls “extraordinary measures” to avoid a government default, but it can only protect the nation’s credit for so long. Stay tuned in the coming months for another Washington fight over whether, and how, to raise the debt ceiling.

The 1 Percent. Wealthy Americans who make their money from investments, rather than paychecks, were losers in the fiscal-cliff deal. In addition to higher income taxes, those who make above $400,000 will now be subject to a 20 percent tax rate on their capital gains and dividends. The fiscal cliff wasn’t all bad news for the wealthy, however: They can still bequeath up to $5 million tax-free, with any additional money taxed at 40 percent. That’s greater than the current 35 percent estate tax rate, but less than the 55 percent rate on assets over $1 million that would have gone into effect without a deal.

Holiday Cheer.  From senators who had to fly back to Washington two days after Christmas to Hill staffers who canceled New Year’s Eve plans in anticipation of a late night hammering out a deal, the fiscal-cliff negotiations cast a pall over the holiday season. And it wasn’t just Washington: Americans spent the holidays wringing their hands over pending tax increases.

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SWEET NYMPH, ‘TIS TRUE YOU WORTHY BE / YET WITHOUT LOVE, NOUGHT WORTH TO ME.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

40 Responses to “WELCOME TO THE FISCAL CLIFF: UNCLE SAM DIPS INTO YOUR PAYCHECK FOR MORE … EXCEPT IF YOU’RE A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE … BIANCHI & ‘WHAT’S A POLITICIAN?’ … bobbyd’s SON GETS IT … plus … BOEHNER SALTS UP FISCAL CRISIS FIASCO; ‘WINNERS’ & LOSERS IN THE LAST-MINUTE DEAL TO AVOID PLUNGING OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF”

  1. Still wondering
    January 11, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    The “Nursing Home” provision (a budget buster in itself) of ObamaCare was also overturned.

  2. bobbyd
    January 11, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    From the Urban Dictionary:

    Politics
    The system that governs the world. A system of cheating, lying, and scandal. Coming from the phrase poly, meaning many, and ticks, meaning bloodsucking parasites.

    • Joe Blow
      January 11, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      Sad but true.

  3. Quo Vadis
    January 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    I also was disappointed greatly in the mayor’s bugdet this year. More of the same. Great insight into Bianchi-Marchetti campaign. I also didn’t think Pete “wanted” it, I mean really deep down inside. Bianchi can be toppled in November by the right person.

  4. chuck garivaltis
    January 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Have you read page 5 of the Pittsfield Gazette piece about gangs in Pittsfield.?

    We know there are gangs, rape, robbery, vandalism, shootings. violent deaths, narcotics, to name a few of the law breaking activities that go on in Pittsfield.

    I have been an admirer of our criminal justice system and its well educated chief. I admire and respect men and women who go to work with a pistol strapped to their upper hip. My son does this daily.

    What bothers me, and maybe the chief did not mean it the way it came out, was with the violence we have the chief said that we need additional analysis.Also, he said that there are more than 100 individuals of the Bloods gang – most incarcerated – listed a Pittsfield address. Really! Where did these people come from? What brought them here? Who did they live with? How did they pay their rent ? It certainly is not a thriving economy that brings people here. I wish it was.Certainly a part of any analysis should be what brings these bums and deadbeats to Pittsfield? Another question to be answered is, the more aggressive and more violent gangs tend to be independent local gangs,Now this is a surprise. I know of no local violent gangs.And I went to first grade at Briggs School.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

      We don’t need more analysis, this isn’t the FBI solving a serial murder problem or dealing with domestic terrorists. We need numbers. Bring in more State Police, FBI, DEA,ATF and whomever else we need to eradicate this growing problem.Analysis might be good but sometime a show of brute force works the best.I too admire policemen and women who put their lives on the line for us every day, but it seems we need better leadership here.

      • Chuck
        January 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

        Good points, Jimmy. May be a good time to bring in the first team.

      • Scott
        January 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

        I’ll take community action over a police state. Get involved if your neighborhood is crappy.

      • Joe Blow
        January 11, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

        What good will that do? The judges hand out limp wristed sentences and give to many chances.

        • Scott
          January 12, 2013 at 5:55 am #

          Gangs, drugs and violence only exist in communities that allow it to. If I had a drug house across the street from me I’d be at the police station everyday and I’d harass the people until they moved out. There’s more good people in society than bad. The morningside community seems to be fed up and at least organizing to attempt and curve drugs and violence.

      • dusty
        January 12, 2013 at 3:55 am #

        Is it really possible to eradicate a gang these days? Does anyone know where it might have happened? In many of the larger cities authorities are taking payments and protecting gangs. Like cartels, sometimes the tentacles reach right into the political hierarchy.

        • Scott
          January 12, 2013 at 5:51 am #

          All the more reason not to give up your right to bare arms. You think these gangs give a crap about laws? They will still have high capacity mags and all the guns they want. The only difference between them and us is their apathy for life and a willingness to do what it takes without hesitation and regard for the law. We’re pretty fortunate here as the police do seem to have somewhat of a handle on who’s dealing but they will never be able to stop it and I’m sure there’s corruption we’re talking about millions of dollars here. I’ve heard of a couple people fed up with drug houses who reported it to law enforcement and nothing was done.

    • FPR
      January 11, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      Good comment Chuck. You’ve got to be insane not to be armed in Pittsfield for your own safety. Chief Wynn is a good chief. A great guy. He believes in honest citizens arming themselves unlike his predecessor. He will issue you a concealed carry if you qualify. Of course Chief Wynn is only acting chief — whatever that means?

      Yes, it is drugs that brought this element into Pittsfield and its getting worse all the time. This economy is in shambles but not for the drug trade. There is no shortage of customers in the Berkshires. Liquor business’s are booming also in this economy.

      Word on the streets is heroin is very cheap there. $10.00 per high. Its creating lots of new customers all the time. Many end up in a methadone clinic and guess who then pays for their high?

    • Scott
      January 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      I just watched a show on Detroit murder city. People in those communities were known to call the cops about crack houses and when nothing was done they burned the places to the ground. It’s crossed my mind…

      • Joe Blow
        January 11, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

        Scott, be careful posting stuff like that. You have just made yourself a suspect if something like that happens. Some things are better off not said in a public forum.

        • Scott
          January 12, 2013 at 5:46 am #

          The point is the only way to stop these people sometimes is by taking things into our own hands as a community. I said it’s crossed my mind but of course I’m fortunate and live in a good part of town on a dead end so I doubt I’ll ever need to. In Detroit the people went public and the DA refused to prosecute them as they were doing a community service. One time my wife followed a car out of our neighborhood that was clearly involved in an open drug exchange in broad daylight. The people acted like they were taking a left hand turn onto first st. and blew through the red light down East. The plate information make and model of the car was reported to the police. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/22/us/crack-house-fire-justice-or-vigilantism.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

          Check it out. I’d proudly be a suspect.

    • AMBROSE
      January 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      How did they pay their rent ? – Section 8

  5. Joe Blow
    January 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Where did these people come from? NYC NJ. Boston
    What brought them here? Expanding their drug business to a area with less competition.
    Who did they live with? Baby mama”s
    How did they pay their rent ? They don’t we do..baby mama’s get section 8

    • Outfox
      January 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      What brought them here originally was a “perfect storm” of events: the Mcgee unit at Hillcrest began taking in the overflow of criminal addicts from NYC, GE pulled out and the three strikes you’re out DUI laws kicked in. I’ve asked several local users what got them started and to a person they replied,”I had 2 DUIs and using that stuff, I didn’t drink and drive.” So Pittsfield had no jobs, and experienced urban dealers were being released into our community, where the wait in line for food stamps, etc. was minutes rather than the hours or days it takes in the city. Plus, in Pittsfield the dealers are getting top dollar for a product that only sells for $5-$10 in the city. The real question is: Now what?

    • Sonny
      January 12, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Joe blow nailed it. SECTION 8!! It is the cause of the erosion of the quality of life for Pittsfield and other cities that have become virtual ghettos. We can thank the government and local slum landlords for this. What were once working class neighborhoods are now filled with alchoholics and drug addicts all on our tax dime. Section 8 money is guarranteed to the slum landlord by our generous government. I would love to know the number of section 8 apartments in Pittsfield from about 1980 to the present. I think it would amaze even the GOB network in this city.

  6. Jonathan Melle
    January 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Go Patriots!

  7. ShirleyKnutz
    January 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    I always thought I was middle class but I guess I am not because I do not come close to making $400,000.00.

  8. Scott
    January 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Funny joke Dan.

  9. Rick
    January 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    If Social Security is in such bad shape, why was the tax cut enacted in the first place? This isn’t a tax hike, it is reinstating what was in place before the rocket scientists messed with it. Leave it alone, SS is all a lot of people have.

  10. FPR
    January 12, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    “The Fiscal Cliff” — ever notice how the media gets everyone wrapped around the axle?

    What will they call it next time they spend all the money they keep borrowing from the Federal Reserve bank?

    How much more will they raise your taxes then?

    Fact is, the economy has already gone over the cliff. The fact that the cogs on the wheels keep turning does not mean they will come to a sudden grinding halt.

    If the power is cut on a spinning fan, the blades don’t immediately stop but will continue to spin until they run out of momentum.

    The United States economy is quickly losing its momentum and will come to a grinding halt.

    We are talking here about money that is created out of thin air, computer entries and is backed up by nothing of any value. Debt entries on balance sheets that will have to be paid back by your blood, sweat and tears. Not only yours but also your children’s and grand-children’s labor.

  11. Gene
    January 12, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Back to Dan’s point about the budget. Mayor Bianchi grew government spending at a time when tax revenues are again down and tax base is still shrinking. Hands out 16% pay raise to teacehers. Is it any wonder Pittsfield is being run into the ground.

  12. Jim Gleason
    January 12, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    ruberto raised taxes two and three times what Mayor Bianchi did in his first budget. Where was the outrage then, or was if fine because it was Squiggy? Bianchi inherited such a mess from ruberto we’re lucky taxes didn’t go up ten percent. Remember that.

  13. dusty
    January 12, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    According to the Lenox Beacon, Ruberto is thinking about running for mayor again. He is going to be teaching a course at MCLA this fall on how to use the arts to revive your city.

    I am not making this up…guess he feels Bianchi ain’t up to taking care of his city

    The Lenox Beacon is a free (at your supermarket) little newspaper

  14. tito
    January 12, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Next Super Bowl Campions? you got it…..San Francisco 49ers!

    • Scott
      January 13, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      Not if they play the Patriots and the Patriots play like they did the whole game as they did in the second half when they lost to the 9ers in the regular season. Kaepernick played a hell of a game last night if they do end up winning I won’t be too disappointed they would have earned it and deserve it.

  15. Mr. X
    January 13, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    The Pittsfield Police this past week were offered a 3 year deal with raises of less than 2% each year. What an absolute insult to people who carry a gun for a living, plus consider what the teachers just got.

  16. Mr. X
    January 13, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Yo Ti to. 9ers were impressive but we’ll see what they do against a real defense, like Seattle, after they shut down Atlanta today. A good D always beats a good O anyday, my brother.

    • raider50
      January 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      you should have probably saved your 49′ers vs Seattle match up discussion for after the Atlanta game.

      • Scott
        January 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

        Hey man he was just believing in his team. But it did no good. Although the pars did play like they should. They play like tonight and no one can beat them. Glad Denver is out of the picture.

  17. Gene
    January 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I hope DV runs for mayor.

    • B
      January 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      I’d vote for DV if he would run, I would even help him run.

    • B
      January 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      I’d vote for DV if he would run, I would even help him run.

  18. billy
    January 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    can someone please tell me .. Did the charter commission do any research when they decided against a city manager?Did they go to nearby berkshire towns and see how the it worked. i heard no discussion on how they reached that conclusion.The Berkshire Eagle ran a story about the strong mayor form of government i walked away laughing at that idea.The mayor has spent his first term in office blaming any problem he has come across on everyone but himself. The true measure of a leader is responsibility and accountability. The strong mayor form of leadership is ridiculous cause it has a “vice mayor” who could be a political hire and may have no education on how to run the city effectively as a city manger would. The newspaper said it would leave the mayor free to get money and create a vision for the city,but the mayor recently stated he is not good at having his hand out asking for money for the city. I applaud him for saying it but only makes the argument for a professional manger all the more relevant.The city faces a future of tight budgets and a overtaxed graying population.The mayor has refused to the out of control spending on the school side under control ..Pittsfield has shrunk from sixty thousand in the ge hay day to a little over forty thousand. yet the school dept has not realized that reality and has only grown.The mayor must make tough decisions size the school system to the population so it is effective and sustainable..

    • danvalenti
      January 14, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      bobby
      This is an insightful, trenchant comment. Many thanks.

  19. billy
    January 13, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    sorry missed a few words it was refused to get spending under control..