There can be no doubt that much of the time spent in Congress recently has been dominated by the very real “Fiscal Cliff” crisis. December 31st was the deadline for Congress to take action to avert a fiscal disaster in this country. Of course, the Fiscal Cliff is a term we have all become very familiar with over the last few months. The term is used to refer to the economic effects that could result from tax increases, spending cuts, and a corresponding reduction in the U.S. budget deficit beginning in 2013 if existing laws are not changed by the end of 2012.
If the Fiscal Cliff scenario becomes reality, the deficit is expected to be reduced by roughly half beginning in the first days of 2013. Yet while a reduction in our nation’s deficit would seem to be very positive, this sharp decrease in the deficit in such a short period of time would be catastrophic. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the sudden reduction will probably lead to a severe recession in early 2013.
If the Fiscal Cliff is not averted, the result will also include the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and planned spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Budget Control Act was a result of a compromise intended to resolve a dispute in the public debt ceiling. Spending for defense, federal agencies and cabinet departments would be reduced through broad cuts referred to as budget sequestration. While we need reductions in spending, this approach is not the way to do it.
I believe that most Americans want the two parties to find a reasonable compromise to move this country forward. Most polls show that the overwhelming majority of citizens expect the parties to reach a compromise. At press time, President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, the chief negotiators for their respective parties, appeared to be making some headway towards a resolution of the problem.
I may be overly optimistic, but I am hopeful that this is a moment in our county’s history when partisan politics can be placed aside with the two parties coming together to move our country forward. I also believe that if one party blocks an agreement or seems unreasonable in its negotiations, the American public will take notice and will voice its displeasure during the next election cycle. Hopefully, by the time this issue is received, the Fiscal Cliff crisis will have been resolved.
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