"I put a dollar in the change machine, nothing changed"
-- George Carlin
The hope that President Obama and Congress could establish common ground and a sure footing for our nation's financial stability appears fleeting.
Reality now is dealing with the effects caused by the still-pending sequestration, or across-the-board budget cuts in federal spending, The laws creating the sequestration were,, in large part, considered so ridiculous that government leadership would not be able to ignore them.
What has now become a time-honored congressional tradition of negotiating against the clock in a doom-saying, pessimistic atmosphere has done little to alleviate the impasse.
As a local government representative, I have been anxious about the impact this is having on the common citizen and their families.
Here are my concerns;
* Decline in sales tax revenue. More taxes paid to the federal government means less disposable income to be spent in the local economy. At a minimum, all workers will pay an additional 2 percentage points in FICA tax.
Some reports indicate that the tax bill for an average middle-class family tax bill could increase approximately $4,000 to $6,000 per year. If that much disposable income is taken from every household, the effect on discretionary spending will be dramatic.
That will translate into drastically reduced spending and reduced sales tax revenue to cities.
* Military installations. The economies of Northern Utah municipalities are supported by wages and defense spending at Hill Air Force Base. Be assured that Hill will be required to take its fair share of cuts, creating a dramatic effect on the community. Fewer jobs and military contracts mean less money in the local economy. It also puts a strain on social programs trying to help displaced workers.
* Increased cost of goods. Studies have indicated that there has not been inflation in the U.S., except in fuel, food and housing. Hmm ... what else really matters? The low cost of a cruise is secondary if I can't afford to put fuel in my car, food on my table or maintain a roof over my head.
* Law enforcement grants. Community policing grants are scheduled for cuts. Major cities are indicating that if these cuts go through many of their programs, such as a narcotics strike force, could disappear. Other programs supplemented with federal dollars will also be affected.
* Education funding. One of the biggest concerns in this area is for Title I-funded schools, the schools where the majority of household incomes are below the poverty level.
* Federal transportation funds. Large projects in the state are supplemented with federal dollars. The fiscal cliff would cut those dollars and have a huge effect on transportation infrastructure.
The current stalemate is causing uncertainty and fear, which is not good for any of us.
"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that we could" (Ronald Reagan).
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at email@example.com.