Politics is the worst thing that ever happened to politicians.
For more than 500 days, the President and Congress could see the fiscal cliff of their own creation on the horizon.
In the end, we went over the fiscal cliff, fell for 24 hours and then were saved by a tattered parachute that has been used far too many times recently.
They didn’t get a deal done by the actual deadline of midnight Monday. But the added pressure of facing the automatic tax increases and spending cuts forced them to take action on Tuesday.
In the end, they did just enough to avert this crisis. But their handling of the situation leaves the door open for us to face many more crises in the near and distant future.
President Barack Obama has been declared the winner of this fight.
I don’t see it.
He didn’t call the opponents together and arrange a grand bargain that everyone could agree will help solve the revenue and spending problems our country faces.
All Obama did was host a bad news conference Monday with a bunch of cardboard cutout taxpayers behind him where he trotted out jokes about Congress that would be too lame for the Jay Leno on the Tonight Show or Late Night with David Letterman.
Instead of being effective, Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden in to do what he couldn’t.
That may be a win for Biden who suddenly seems like a viable candidate in 2016, but not for Obama.
While finding winners was difficult, identifying the large group of losers was easier. Leading the pack was House Speaker John Boehner. He got the deal to the finish line but he split his caucus. While the Democrats supported the measure 172-16, Boehner could only convince 85 Republicans to come along for the ride. The other 151 Republican House members voted against the deal Boehner supported.
It may not cost him his job as Speaker of the House, but it didn’t make him stronger.
But the big losers, as always, are Americans – especially young and future Americans.
If you are working, your tax bill went up two percent thanks to the deal allowing the Social Security tax cut to expire. This really makes sense.
But since the gaggle of geniuses couldn’t identify any real areas of waste that could be cut in the budget, even this broad tax increase and the targeted tax increase on wealthy Americans won’t do anything to cut our federal budget deficit or the nation’s debt.
This deal includes tax increases and deficit increases.
Page 2 of 2 - It wasn’t a good deal. There won’t be any good deals.
Our current political environment encourages politicians to delay the inevitable. They just build another level on the house of cards and hope nothing happens to change the structure upon which it is built.
This is the real situation. If we can get the economy moving again, it will solve a lot of the problems. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton weren’t economic masterminds. When things were going well in the economy, they looked like geniuses. When the economy struggles, everyone is an idiot.
If unemployment drops to five or even six percent, if our industries begin producing again, if we start creating wealth at a higher rate, then the deficit will fall.
There are a lot of things that could be cut in our federal spending plan that would make the climb back to solvency less steep. But until we solve the revenue problem, the deficit won’t drop significantly. We can’t solve that revenue problem by having the government take a bigger piece of the pie. That only slows the economy and makes the pie smaller.
We have to find a way to increase the size of our pie. Then, and only then, will we be able to make politically palatable moves to work down our budget deficits and national debt.
Kent Bush is the publisher of The Augusta Daily Gazette, The El Dorado Times, and The Andover American newspapers. He can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org.