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Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Cliff crisis

The “fiscal cliff” isn’t the only economic challenge facing U.S. leaders.

December 28, 2012

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In Tokyo on Wednesday, Shinzo Abe took office as prime minister of Japan, pledging to overcome deep-rooted economic and diplomatic crises facing that nation.

In Egypt, as adoption of a new Islamist-supported constitution appeared to further destabilize the politically divided country under President Mohammed Morsi, the country’s economy was descending into turmoil.

And President Obama cut short his holiday vacation in Hawaii to return to Washington, D.C., where the wrangling over the so-called “fiscal cliff” appears headed down to the Dec. 31 end-of-the-year wire.

Welcome to today’s real world. Anyone remember Greece? Italy? Ireland?

It would be expecting too much to expect statesmanship, leadership or genuine compromise out of our nation’s capital. What seems most likely is that the nation will go over the cliff, at least temporarily.

The tax hikes and spending cuts that are part of the “cliff” package take effect over a two-year period, so there’s believed to be time to refine the plan after a new Congress is seated in January. Some have suggested that allowing the “cliff” tax hikes now may become more acceptable because it will put the new Congress in the position to discuss how to reduce taxes — something members possibly could agree on.

However, even if the spending cuts and tax increases are resolved quickly, Congress hasn’t dodged all of its responsibility. Most government sources estimate that in February, another increase in the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling will be needed. Then on the following March 27, the current funding authority for the federal government expires, meaning the government would shut down — unless there’s another agreement.

So, the dominoes are lined up for a series of political battles, and leaders and the rank-and-file in both parties seem to have dug in their heels. It will be exceptionally noteworthy to watch and see whether it continues to be politics as usual — postponing hard decisions for another election cycle — or finding a rational way to impose a sensible combination of spending cuts and tax increases to bring the country’s growing debt under some measure of control. Kansas sends only a handful of votes into this fray, but how they’re cast and how those senators and representatives justify their actions is of more than passing importance.

Americans tend to be a bit smug when considering the problems faced by other leaders such as Morsi and Abe, but if the U.S. isn’t able to avoid its impending economic train wreck, the problems our country will face may make other nations’ challenges look like child’s play.

Comments

bradh 1 year, 11 months ago

It is nice that B.O. cut his vacation short, but what was he doing going on vacation in the first place with the fiscal cliff looming? I'm also curious why the only solution we're hearing about are tax increases. The fiscal cliff included automatic tax increases to get the Republicans to the table and it had automatic spending cuts to bring the Democrats to the bargaining table. I've heard a lot about tax increases for those making $250,000, $400,000, or $1,000,000, however the only spending "cut" I've heard about is changing the COLA for seniors Social Security, so they get even less to live on each year. No cut, just less increases in spending down the road. Seniors have already paid $500 billion in Medicare cuts to fund the "free" Obamacare, it seems like someone else should pay this time.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

He didn't "go on vacation". He went to HI for Christmas with his family. He IS from there, you know. Congress was down for Christmas break themselves and he returned to DC before Congress reconvened. Get over it.

KiferGhost 1 year, 11 months ago

We were paying those taxes before the Bush disaster and we did pretty well as a country. I wouldn't sweat it.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

More importantly, those making over 250k will have their own taxes hauled up to where they should have been all along. That's where the real piggy squeals are coming from.

blondejuan 1 year, 11 months ago

How can America have any kind of respect on world affairs if we can't handle our own. I have heard this issue discussed several times on BBC. Other countries are beginning to question whether to listen to us. Obamas new world order is deincentivizing people. The good old American dream is leaving. Pull up your boot straps and you can live the American dream. Now you work hard and make money. You are now evil and should give your money to the government to redistribute. American does have the richest poor people in the world.

KiferGhost 1 year, 11 months ago

While the Germans work regular hours, get more vacation time, have health insurance and education but the answer is more gumption by all those lazy Americans who are already more productive than most other countries. Perhaps the solution is a little more involved than simply lazy people living on the rich people's dime. If you think the government is doing a redistributing the wealth you are correct, the facts show the wealthy are getting much wealthier.

streetman 1 year, 11 months ago

The so-called "fiscal cliff" event -- if we're lucky enough for it to happen -- will be about as disastrous as the recent Mayan calendar apocalypse (did they REALLY cancel a school day in California for this?) or the end-of-the-world YK2 "event" a few years ago.

KiferGhost 1 year, 11 months ago

The cliff is great, we pay more taxes like all the responsible people in other countries and cut defense. The next thing to do is provide insurance to all and nationalize resources. Long term planning instead of knee jerk quarterly shortsightness is a must.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Where’s the money to fix America in addition to jobs jobs jobs?

--- Stop giving investors a sweetheart deal
 = Additional revenue: $533 billion over 10 years.

--- Quit subsidizing mansions and vacation homes = 
Additional revenue: $214.6 billion over 10 years.

--- End the "step up" giveaway on inherited stocks
Additional revenue: $764 billion over 10 years.

--- Revitalize the "death tax" = 
Additional revenue: $432 billion over 10 years.

--- Heed America's favorite investment guru = 
Additional revenue: $171 billion over 10 years.

--- Reset back to Clinton-era tax rates for upper incomes = 
Additional revenue: $442 billion over 10 years.

--- Take agribusiness giants off the federal teat = 
Additional revenue: $112 billion over 10 years.

--- End oil and gas drilling in Washington, DC = 
Additional revenue: $158 billion over 10 years.

--- Forget cap and trade: Impose a carbon tax instead = 
Additional revenue: $1.25 trillion over 10 years.

--- Stop giving corporations an excuse to hide profits and send jobs abroad
 = Additional revenue: $583 billion over 10 years.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/11/10-easy-ways-avoid-fiscal-cliff

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The nation has 20 years to adjust Social Security so why go for a hurried political decision now?

--- Killing Social Security Insurance Is Not An Option. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

--- Killing Medicare Insurance is simply not an option. http://www.thenation.com/article/159769/paul-ryans-plan-destroy-medicare

Yes President Obama and the Democrats have many more options in which to bring this economy around and completely forget about the alleged Fiscal Cliff.

First off Uncle Sam needs to employ as many workers as necessary to rehab our nations federal highways and bridges that are 70 years old.

Second the president should fill all the regulation enforcement vacancies that guard our food,pharmaceuticals,home loans and insurance industries. The IRS vacancies as well.

Then we do this: Robin Hood tax http://www.robinhoodtax.org

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Why is war for no reason okay? Is it sound foreign/USA policy? Does it create allies?

Just wondering what anyone else might think on this matter?

Which war for no reason?

Iraq

Sudan

Afghanistan

Pakistan

Yemen

Egypt

War on USA jobs?

War on USA workers wages?

War on Women?

War on USA Democracy?

War on republicans,democrats,women,Green Party by the right wing?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

This is more nonsense considering Congress has a minimum of 11 safe options

Make no mistake herein lies the problem:

The repub party declared the day Obama was elected their primary function would be to make Obama a one term president. Consequently their millions of NO votes became the disastrous campaign against women,The USA and jobs for Americans. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deliberately-crash-us-economy

People in America need jobs which means the USA cannot wait another 4 years. Congress has options therefore there is no reason to repeat the performance of the past 4 years. Millions of jobs that cannot be outsourced will provide new economic growth thus squashing any Fiscal Cliff.

This GOP will hold millions upon millions upon millions of jobless Americans hostage so they can play their games.

It's time for democrats to step up to the plate and stop playing this game. It's time to move forward and cut the nonsense.

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