Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is this "Fiscal Cliff" that everyone fears and how did we get here?

"The Fiscal Cliff."

It has the ring of something we should fear, and indeed the media and politicians designed it and marketed it to be something so awesomely awful that we would, as a nation, as a Congress, be forced to take acts we otherwise would not take in order to avoid it.

We laugh in the face of the fearsome options before us.

As a launching off point, why would our legislators enact a law with consequences so draconian that they are to be avoided at all costs?  Who would vote in favor of such a thing?  What illness were they trying to cure with this strong medicine?

The Cliff is the antidote to continuation of staggering, unthinkable deficits and growing national debt.  Part of the problem with debt is that no one is quite sure how much debt is too much debt.  But there is a general consensus that the growth in deficit spending during the first four years of the Obama administration is a perilous course indeed for the nation.  Another problem with debt is that borrowing is a "confidence" game.  Once investors lose confidence in their investment, the entire pyramid comes crashing down.  So, once the house of cards starts to fall, it may be impossible to stop.

So, we face the debt monster behind us, and the cliff in front of us.

The cliff constitutes a series of massive tax hikes (the biggest tax increase in American history) and supposedly unacceptable spending cuts that will in fact tame the deficit.

So, the Cliff is a choice, it's not necessarily the worse of the two choices.  It's a choice.  And it's a choice our legislators elected in the Budget Control Act of 2011, really because they were incapable of making other choices, or perhaps the correct choices, to control the debt and deficit.

We don't fear the Cliff.

We fear weak-kneed legislators who refuse to make the correct choices when faced with hard decisions.  We fear endless debt and deficits.  We fear heading into the abyss of the unknown because we can't seem to recognize the reckless path of deficit spending we have tread for half a century.

But we laugh in the face Cliff.  The Cliff was the end of a series of bad decisions from unprincipled legislators.  They made their bed.  Let them, and the voters who elected them, sleep in it.

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