It’s time for us to dive off the fiscal cliff
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 7:01 pm
By PARIS POST-INTELLIGENCER
The best thing for America is to dive off the fiscal cliff.
Yet Congress, as deeply divided as it is, is almost certain to stop Bush-era tax cuts from expiring and mandatory spending reductions in defense and entitlement programs from taking place.
The problem is that steps like those are precisely what we must do, sooner or later, to restore balance to the federal budget. Less painful actions won’t do the job. So why not start now?
Congress probably hasn’t got the nerve
Only by a combination of tax increases and cuts in the big-money spending programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense — can we begin to eat away at the cancer of national debt. Simply cutting back on discretionary spending like Commerce and Agriculture won’t begin to do the job.
In an attempt at balance, Congress earlier this year agreed that unless it can come up with another plan, the tax cuts enacted in the George W. Bush administration will expire at the end of this year. Further, automatic reductions will be made in spending on defense and social programs.
That’s what’s called the “fiscal cliff,” and history tells us that Congress almost certainly will not take that plunge. If it follows true to form, it will borrow more money to keep entitlement programs going in essentially their present form, and it will also shy away of from slashing Defense Department appropriations.
Congress is so concerned with protecting defense, continuing entitlements, and avoiding the plague of tax increases that it is ready to ignore the disaster that ultimately awaits if we continue to amass huge deficits.
The textbook example of what happens when a nation ignores its debt has been provided to us by Greece. There the economy collapsed, people lost 70 percent of their savings, and riots erupted in the streets — all because the country chose to ignore its mounting debt.
We have come to believe that we’ll never have to pay the federal debt, that we can just keep borrowing forever, that there’s no tomorrow. But tomorrow will come. There will be a reckoning, and the longer we wait to do something about it the worse it will be.
So let’s join hands and jump off the cliff. Cliff diving is dangerous sport, and only the brave are qualified to take part. Published in The WCP 11.15.12