It seems like wherever I turn I'm hearing about the fiscal cliff. I feel as if the media has made this into our country's version of Armageddon. Let's be clear, there are some serious issues if the budget issue is not resolved but is it the end of our country as we know it?
The day after the election I posted an Open Letter to Congress. I wrote:
"It's time for you to put partisan politics aside and focus on working together to solve the challenges facing America. Now is not the time to put ideological differences above practical solutions. Now is not the time to toe the party line for fear of retribution within your respective parties. Now is the time for you to be bold and daring. You have been entrusted with the future of our nation. It's time for you to live up to our expectations and figure out a way to get it done."
Obviously no one is paying attention to what we as citizens expect our politicians to be doing considering they are being paid by our hard earned tax dollars. They have chosen to fight this out in the media instead of going behind closed doors and not coming out until they come up with an equitable solution. They have again chosen politics over people, ideology over practical solutions. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that two things have to occur simultaneously to significantly reduce debt, increase revenue and cut expenses.
Let's not forget that this fiscal cliff was self imposed. There were no external forces that put us on this trajectory of impending doom. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub.L. 112-25, S. 365) is a federal statute that was signed into law by President Obama on August 2, 2011. The Act brought conclusion to the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis, which had threatened to lead the United States into sovereign default on or about August 3, 2011. The thought at the time was to sign into law an Act that was so far reaching and draconian that it would force the executive and legislative branches to come up with an adequate solution to our debt issues. At the time no one thought that it would get to this point, imagine that. If no deal was reached before Dec. 31 — the committee agreed to implement by law massive government spending cuts as well as tax increases or a return to tax levels from previous year. These are the elements that make up the 'fiscal cliff.' The now infamous phrase was coined by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in February 2012, during one of his required appearances before Congress on the state of the U.S. economy. He described ... "a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases" on Jan. 1, 2013.
My question is if we created the cliff through legislation why can't we remove the cliff? Why must we risk putting our country in financial peril when we have the ability to avert it. Both parties are playing a dangerous game of chicken and "us common folk" will bear the brunt of their inability to get things done.
Although all of this makes good press, I am cautiously optimistic that a compromise will happen. I do not believe the entire budget ordeal will be resolved by the end of the year but I do believe there will be a resolution. Falling off the cliff will impact everyone. No politician, Democrat or Republican, can afford for that to happen. One thing to remember, at some point they will need to answer to their constituents. I'm sure that they want to be reelected.
One thing is for certain, we should not feel powerless during this ordeal and the upcoming budget process. These are our elected officials. We're the ones that put them into office. We need to tell them how we feel. Check out this website, it has a wealth of information about the fiscal cliff and it's impact. http://www.friendsoftheuschamber.com/fiscal-cliff/
It starts now, let's get this thing done....
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.