The fiscal cliff really is something to worry about, but like most cliffs you don't have to go over it. The U.S. doesn’t have to do a “Thelma and Louise.” It could do a “Rebel Without a Cause” where James Dean rolled out of the speeding car before it plunges over the abyss.
If you don't know what the "fiscal cliff" is, see a brief definition below. *
I’m not convinced that going over the fiscal cliff is such a bad thing. We need to wipe clean the slate of the Bush/Obama tax cuts to facilitate a responsible budget compromise. The mushrooming federal debt, like global climate change, is too big to conceive and grows too slowly to scare most Americans into dramatic action.
In World War II, there was a collective sacrifice to meet a formidable and unmistakable foe. Today, every side is busy protecting their interests and suggesting what the "other guys" should sacrifice.
I'm tired of the "no new taxes" mantra of Republicans. Expiration of temporary tax cuts is not a tax increase. I'm tired of Democrats saying you can't change Social Security and Medicare. It's been changed in the past to keep it viable for future generations. I'm tired of President Obama wimping out and saying we can only increase taxes on the rich. I'd also like to see him suggest simplifying the tax code and eliminating the kind of Romneyesque loopholes available only to the super-rich.
The military budget is the largest component of federal discretionary spending, prudent cuts here would make it easier to balance the budget. The expanding federal debt is also a major threat to national security that can make us vulnerable to pressure from countries like China who own a large portion of our debt.
We all have to pay more. We all have to accept less from government. If we don't do both, we could face a day when the entire budget of the United States is spent on interest on the debt.
This is theoretically possible if interest on the debt becomes a larger percentage of federal expenditures and interest rates rise dramatically--and they will at some point.
I thank preceding generations for not being selfish - the way we are today. Our children and grandchildren deserve the kind of society those generations built for us. That cannot be done without collective sacrifice. I wish our leaders had the political courage to explain our situation and ask us all to help us rescue each other.
*Fiscal Cliff defined by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The year-over-year changes for fiscal years 2012–2013 include a 19.63% increase in tax revenue and 0.25% reduction in spending.
Some major domestic programs, like Social Security, federal pensions and veterans' benefits, are exempted from the spending cuts. Spending for federal agencies and cabinet departments would be reduced through broad, shallow cuts (referred to as budget sequestration).
The Congressional Budget Office reported an increased risk of recession during 2013 if the deficit is reduced suddenly, while indicating that lower deficits and debt over time improve long-term economic growth prospects. The deficit for 2013 is projected to be reduced by roughly half, with the cumulative deficit over the next ten years to be lowered by as much as $7.1 trillion or about 70%.