Congress is now in a “lame duck” session and, even though we were the duck hunters in the last election, business as usual, even sometimes unusual, continues as normal.

The good-old-boys still control both the U.S. House and Senate along with the numerous committees. I had written a recent column on the blooming national debt which is now at an astonishing $13,857,294,059,809.83 and growing at a rate of $4.16 billion a day. Don’t worry about reducing the debt because President Obama’s debt commission shot down the most recent proposal to reduce the national debt by reducing spending and increasing taxes.

Congress and the president are now discussing options on restoring the so-called Bush tax cuts. At the present time they are also looking at restoring long-term unemployment benefits as millions of unemployed Americans are about to lose their checks which will put them right into the Poor House or shelters which are already crowded in many places. I wrote this column Monday while knowing that the ongoing debate in Washington might have ended in a solution to the differences between what the Republicans and Democrats wanted. The Republicans wanted to restore the Bush tax cuts across the board for all income levels. The Democrats want the cuts restored for those making $250,000 or less which would affect about 7,000,000 people. Republicans don’t want to extend the long-term unemployment benefits. Now there is talk of both sides getting what they want so the Bush tax cuts could be restored in total and so would the unemployment benefits. I don’t see Congress spending anything less so I suspect the national debt will rise higher.

Unemployment crept up once again to 9.8 percent if one can really believe the truth of figures that the federal government spews. Supposedly we have no inflation but gasoline prices are hovering around $3.10 in Windham while the Channel 6 website showed gas prices on Monday ranging from $2.94 to $3.29 a gallon in Maine. I don’t even care to know where heating oil prices are heading. What’s more amazing is during one of our trips to Connecticut this summer the price of firewood was cheaper there. I mention these figures (too many to mention all) because the state of Maine has a huge deficit looming over it which means less spending and/or higher taxes of some type. Gov. Baldacci said that he would not increase taxes but what he did increase were fees for various services. I consider a fee a tax in disguise and a poor disguise at that. The two largest areas of Maine’s budget are Health and Human Services and school funding. I am willing to bet cuts will be made in both and then once again you will hear your local elected officials complain that they will have to raise local taxes to make up the difference.

I believe that the next six months will help steer the direction of the next state and federal elections. All I see is the same old stuff by the same old parties. If things continue as they have been, it’s off to the poor house.

Lane Hiltunen lives in Windham.

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