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'Cliff' jumping is newest national pastime

9 July 2006 - The Thunderbirds' Diamond formation performs echelon pass and review at Duluth, Minn. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds perform over 65 shows annually across the United States and abroad. U.S. Air Force photograph by Technical Sgt Justin D. Pyle

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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 10:53 a.m.

How was your fall from the “fiscal cliff?”

Have you been bruised because Congress didn't extend the 2 percent, two-year tax break in Social Security contributions, thereby reducing your “take-home pay” by $2 for every $100 in gross wages?

Have you received your 1.7 percent cost-of-living “raise” in monthly Social Security benefits only to see the government that giveth also taketh by deducting an extra $5 for Medicare Part B premiums?

Fine print in the legislation supposed to start bailing us out of economic ruin included $430 million to Hollywood to encourage TV and film production in the U.S., $331 million to help small railroads maintain tracks, $222 million in tax reimbursements for rum from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, $70 million in tax breaks to NASCAR for race tracks, $59 million for algae growers to produce new biofuels and $4 million in tax credits for people who buy an electric motorcycle.

The “pork bill” comes to more than $1.1 billion

Welcome, 2013!

The knuckleheads in Washington have already moved on to the next and arguably bigger crisis - the national debt.

It's now $16.4 trillion and growing faster than you can count.

That's the segue for another of our occasional Q&A columns.

Q. – How do you handle personal debt?

1) Better than Congress

2) Not buying more than I can afford or things I don't need

3) Buying now, borrowing now and not worrying about how to pay later

4) Taking more chances on Powerball despite the 175,000,000-to-1 odds of striking it filthy rich

Q. – What's the most important thing in your life?

1) Health and happiness

2) Facebook

3) Money

4) Bacardi rum and electric motorcycles

Q. – Who are the most important people in your life?

1) Family members

2) Friends and neighbors

3) Ben Roethlisberger and Sidney Crosby

4) Parole officers

Q. What was your New Year's resolution?

1) Lose weight

2) Quit smoking

3) Vote ‘em all out

4) Buy a handgun

Q. – Which local event do you most look forward to this year?

1) Reopening the Charleroi-Monessen (Tener) Bridge, closed for repairs for nearly four years already

2) Demolishing the Donora-Webster Bridge, closed because of old age since July 2009

3) Grand opening of the Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands

4) The Monessen/Rostraver and Belle Vernon Rotary Club “Oldies Dance” Jan. 26 at Rostraver Central Fire Hall.

Q. – With slot machine revenues up 2.7 percent statewide last year, including $249.9 million at The Meadows Casino, how did people benefit?

1) It knocked off between $150 and $200 on school property taxes, proving that gambling plays

2) Players Club members were rewarded with cheap “Made in China” gifts

3) People who couldn't afford to lose money lost it anyhow, but look at the fun they had

4) They got free parking

Q. - Which upcoming fight will draw the biggest headlines in The Valley Independent?

1) Gov. Tom Corbett trying to raise more money for PennDOT

2) Luke Ravenstahl vs. Bill Peduto in the race of Pittsburgh mayor

3) Monessen pro boxer Sammy Vasquez Jr. and his next opponent

4) Members of the Ringgold School Board


Thought du jour - At one time, fun was dancing cheek-to-cheek. Today, survival is living check-to-check.

Joe Grata is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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