Send help. The words should be the mantra of the struggling middle class. The fiscal outlook of the majority of working Americans passed desperate long ago.
We keep losing ground because of stagnant and depleted incomes. Even maintaining middle-class status is a strain these days.
From gasoline to groceries, we pay what we can't afford. From staggering out-of-pocket medical expenses to car repairs to back-to-school costs, the hits just keep on coming.
Household debt has soared. Stuck between a rock and no earning power are plans for tomorrow. Being out-priced in everything keeps us from moving forward, from banking on a better life for our children.
We need a break. At the least, we need Congress to send help. Urgent tax relief for the people most oppressed by the Great Recession should go without saying.
But it doesn't. Extending essential middle-class tax cuts ought to occur without debate or strings attached. It doesn't.
Everyone knows it's not the 2 percent of fat cats, padding lucrative portfolios, who need emergency aid. It's the 98 percent of the population, slammed by cutbacks, underwater mortgages, mounting bills, college tuitions, and a jobless recovery, who need a foothold to stop falling backward.
Unlike millions of American families, millionaires and billionaires aren't living paycheck to paycheck or scrimping to put food on the table or fuel in the tank. They don't lie awake nights worried about losing home and hearth.
Maintaining recessionary tax relief for the rich, who got richer despite the economy, is fiscal lunacy. It was crazy when the Bush-era tax cuts -- costing $1 trillion over 10 years -- were first granted to the wealthiest Americans even as the country funded two wars and carried a ballooning deficit.
It makes less sense now in a nation rocked to its core by a recession, stubbornly high unemployment, and a pressing list of unmet needs from crumbling infrastructure to substandard education.
Yet Republicans persist in pursuing $1 trillion in tax cuts for people who don't need them. They fiercely protect the financial interests of the financially secure. If that means making tax breaks for serfs like us conditional on extravagant tax giveaways to the richest Americans, so be it.
The GOP continues to perpetuate the myth that putting more money in the pockets of the well-off is good for those of us who flip through coupons to save a dime. Party puppets reinforce the bogus tenet that tax breaks for the super rich transform them into altruistic job creators, who spread their fortunes far and wide.
The fanciful argument would be laughable if it weren't tragically embraced by so many people. The reality is that the fate of the middle class is in play this year, and 98 percent of us should not go down without a fight.
Yet in a particularly heated election, when political one-upmanship matters more than political integrity, ordinary Americans need to grow a backbone. The hardest-hit citizens, the people who are losing sleep over past-due payments, must demand tax plans that help restore economic stability, not finance opulent lifestyles.
It's time for the eroding middle class to channel Howard Beale. The iconic character from the movie Network informed his TV audience: "We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy."
But what he famously ranted in the 1976 film retains relevance today: "I want you to get mad. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your Congressmen, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write …
"All I know is that first you've got to get mad … Get up out of your chairs … and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell: 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'"
In 2012, he could have added: "Don't be buffaloed into believing that reducing taxes on the highest incomes will benefit you. It won't. It won't feed your families. Trickle-down economics is a hoax.
But the higher income taxes that millions of middle-class families will face -- if the politicking millionaires and billionaires in Congress don't act on their behalf soon -- are painfully real.
The wealthy have nothing to worry about if recessing politicians dawdle. The rest of us should be furious.
Marilou Johanek is a columnist for The Blade.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org