For almost the entire general election season, it has gone unnoticed. Neither presidential candidate talked about it in any great detail. The circumstances that led to its inception were set in motion a time long ago. The poor will be cast down, the economy will grind to a halt, our military will be rendered completely useless and the rich will be sacrificed on the altars of progress. In short, the world will come to an end.
No, I’m not talking about the Mayan apocalypse supposedly set to destroy our lives before we get to graduate from being lifelong students to real adults at the end of the year. I’m talking about the doomsday projections surrounding the fiscal cliff facing the nation if our politicians fail to avoid the sequester due to take effect beginning next year and don’t do something about the tax code. The good news is that the salvation of our great nation from this horrible fate lies in the capable hands of the president and House Speaker John Boehner.
Oh, wait …
For those of you who don’t remember, the circumstances leading to the sequestration due to take effect in January came about as a result of the president and the speaker failing to agree on a grand debt/deficit bargain late last year. They then proceeded to suggest a bipartisan panel of six Republicans and six Democrats to find a solution — which also promptly failed to come to agreement. This, in turn, triggered equally large and arbitrary cuts to domestic programs and defense spending which are satisfying no one (then again, that was the point).
Now, if Congress and the president do not take action before the beginning of next year on the tax code and spending cuts, many economists believe that the combined consequences of the Bush tax cuts lapsing and the spending cuts could result in the loss of nearly a million jobs. No pressure.
Now that the president has been re-elected, the compromise that must be struck to avoid the fiscal cliff will likely be as unsatisfying to both the president and Congress as the sequester itself. The fact of the matter is that the president’s claim to a “mandate” from the American people on the issue of taxation is pure bravado.
Not only is the American public split, the chamber of Congress that Boehner leads holds complete control over the writing of tax laws. Though the president will likely get the increased revenues he has consistently sought from the rich, they likely will not be as large as he’d like and will come at the cost (from his perspective) of simplifying the tax code and lowering rates overall. Conversely, Republicans face the grim reality that military spending will have to be cut and little to no action will be taken to fix our nearly bankrupt entitlement programs.
It will, in short, be political compromise at its finest; and all of America, having chosen to maintain the status quo of divided government, will hate it.
Jeffrey Robin has a sacrificial donkey prepared for his upcoming doomsday festivities.
Rebuttal to Michael Dean’s “Left Said” position:Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.
Blame for the sequester lies primarily with the president, not with Speaker Boehner. My counterpart claims that the Democratic Party stood “axe in hand,” ready to cut domestic spending, but the fact of the matter is that the spending cuts enacted last year to avert government shutdown were laughably small. Further, neither the president nor his party has shown any inclination to bend to the reality that our entitlement programs — far and away the primary drivers of our debt problems — are in desperate need of reform.
As for the tax issue, the president himself acknowledged — when he signed an extension of the Bush tax cuts last year — that raising taxes when the economy continues to grow at an anemic pace would only serve to further damage prospects for recovery. That the Democratic Party and the president have now somehow deluded themselves into genuinely believing that raising taxes will create private sector jobs only illustrates the depths of their insanity. Also, believe it or not, a 2 percent win in the popular vote and barely winning a net of seven House races does not amount to a “mandate” to exert one’s will in government.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.