Back from a long holiday weekend of indulgence in SC, TheLeftyWolfe is now in full swing and ready to report on today’s trending topics. For this post, I’ll focus on all the talk of the nearly-here fiscal cliff situation that has newspapers and online sites buzzing. Read on!
First…what is the fiscal cliff? – If you recall last year’s chaotic budget talks between Congressional Republicans and Democrats, then you’re already halfway to understanding our current situation. Those talks broke down because Republicans in the House refused to compromise on ANYTHING. While House and Senate Dems were ready to include both tax cuts and revenue increases in the final package, House Repubs refused to even negotiate legislation that included increased revenue of any sort (this was in contrast to Senate Repubs, who were ready to work across the aisle). The approximate formula that both Obama and House/Senate Dems supported was $1 in tax increases for every $2-3 in tax cuts. Non-partisan economists around the country supported this formula, as did Senate Repubs…just those pesky House Repubs (lead by John Boehner) refused such an overture. Thus…the fiscal cliff was instituted. Both sides could agree on this: if no deficit reduction measures could be agreed upon by Dec 31st, 2012, then budget cuts of $1 trillion would AUTOMATICALLY go into effect: $500 billion in cuts to defense spending and $500 billion in cuts to other various domestic programs. These draconian measures were meant to inspire compromise in Congressional leaders so that the cuts wouldn’t devastate both our military and our economy. Unfortunately, though, nothing could ever be agreed upon. So, here we now stand: one month to go before we reach the aforementioned fiscal cliff. If Congress does nothing before the end of this year, those drastic automatic cuts will go into effect and sling the fragile U.S. economy back into a tailspin.
Second…will Congress FINALLY do some good for the country and reach a deal? – Let’s hope so!!! Believe it or not, there are some encouraging signs regarding this terrible situation. After a smack down at the polls this past election, some prominent Republican leaders now appear open to working with Democrats to avoid the calamity that is the fiscal cliff: John Boehner (Speaker of the House) and several Republicans in the Senate (such as Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss) have publicly stated that they are now willing to include moderate tax increases in any budget deal. Let’s just hope that this show of rare bipartisanship will hold on long enough to accomplish something positive for our nation.
Aside from the election, there is one thing that I believe has pushed conservatives to their new position: national polls. In an article on CNN this morning, it was reported that a clear majority of the U.S. public would lay blame at the feet of the GOP were no deal reached to avoid the massive cuts set to go into effect with the enactment of the fiscal cliff measures. Combine an angry public with a reduced number of Republicans in the House and an increased majority of Democrats in the Senate and you have a situation much more favorable to teamwork than you did before November 6th.
Third…what should you do? – Be proactive and contact the U.S. House or Senate member for your district or state. Relate to them how desperate we are for Washington to fix its broken ways and do some good! Politicians on both sides have drifted so far to the right or left that they have forgotten why they were sent there to begin with. They need to reminded that we, the people, have the ultimate power and that we WILL rise up and boot out of office anyone we see as hurting our economy or public just to score some points with their base voters. It’s time to wake up, Washington!!