For nearly two years now, the government of the United States has known that a “Fiscal Cliff” would begin squeezing the U.S. economy on January 1st, 2013, during a weak economic recovery.
The government has known this because the government created the Fiscal Cliff in the first place.
But, for nearly two years, the government has done nothing.
Worse, for nearly two years now, our government has known that the United States would once again bump up against its “debt ceiling” in early 2013.
The government has known this because, last time the country hit the debt ceiling, the government hiked the ceiling only far enough to reach this point.
And yet, for nearly two years, the government has done nothing.
So now we’re a week away from going over the Fiscal Cliff.
Worse, our Treasury Secretary reminds us, we’re a week away from hitting the debt ceiling and starting a ~2 month countdown to the date on which we will be forced to default on our debt.
Default on our debt.
Are we Greece?
Are we Argentina?
Are we some banana republic that never had any intention of or ability to paying back the money we’ve borrowed (from ourselves, among others)?
If we aren’t–and I certainly hope we aren’t–then why on earth is our government even raising the possibility that we might default?
Is our government really that pathetic and irresponsible that stubborn ideology and politics would make this a possibility?
Apparently, the answer is “yes.”
No wonder so many people hate Congress. No wonder so many people think this country has lost its way.
We sent our leaders to Washington to lead, not to piss and moan and point fingers and make accusatory speeches. And now, in a spectacular display of incompetence, they’re driving us right over the cliff.
The way to lead when there is strong disagreement about the way forward is to compromise, not to threaten to default, punish ordinary Americans, whine, and otherwise act like toddlers in a sandbox.
The reasonable, responsible people in our government–of both parties–need to come together and cut a deal on the Fiscal Cliff.
The first element of that deal has to be to raise the debt ceiling to a level that the country should never reach as long as Congress follows through with a reasonable long-term debt reduction plan. And an agreement to work out that plan in the next year needs to be the second element of the deal.
And if the government is just too myopic and polarised to reach a deal on the Cliff, then, at the very least, the debt ceiling should immediately be hiked.
Anything else is irresponsible and pathetic.