The Fiscal Cliff

UnknownIf you live in the United States or you work in any of the world’s financial markets your news has been full of “information” about the so-called fiscal cliff.

I’ll trust that if you have any interest at all in this post that you already know what the “cliff” is all about and the possible consequences of not avoiding it. I won’t bore anyone with more details.

I won’t even bore you with details on how to avoid it. There are after all only 5 or 6 options for settling the matter and sooner or later one or more of those options will settle it. Period!

This post is about the incompetence of the people that United States citizens “hired” to work out a compromise. I say “hired” because when we elect people and send them to Washington we do it with the understanding that they will “work” for the people that sent them there.

At least that’s how the voters see it. Apparently those we send don’t see it that way at all.

President Obama and Speaker Boehner are too busy worrying about personal “victories” to actually behave like adults and get down to business.

So feel free to listen in as I write what I’d say to these two gentlemen if I ever had the chance.

Mr. Speaker, did you happen to notice that your side mostly LOST in the November elections. Much to my personal dismay, the majority of the American people that you “work” for feel that raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans is the way to go. So quit your posturing and agree to raise taxes immediately. Get whatever compromise you can get on closing loopholes and work your butt off to fix the entitled mess that has been created over the last several decades. Please also remember as you talk with our friends from the Democratic party that while you are a Republican, you don’t “work” for Republican Americans, you “work” for all Americans. As a leader you must know that your impressive title doesn’t mean that your idea is always the best. Truly listen to the other side, there are plenty of very smart people over there as well. They care for the country too and the people who elected you expect you to work with them, not against them.

Mr. Speaker, we are sadly, way too far in debt to EVER get out of it without raising taxes. What most people don’t understand is that we could cut discretionary spending to zero, close every tax loophole and still not get out of debt in our lifetimes. Because of past mistakes (made by both parties) we simply must have more revenue than just closing loopholes can get us. Grow up Mr. Speaker and work withPresident Obama. Like it or not, the people you work for elected him President again. That ought to tell you something.

Now, Mr. President, I’m sure you’re feeling pretty good about the results of the election. Nice victory! I’d like to point out that it wasn’t exactly a landslide but hey, a win is a win.

I hope you are a gracious victor because at the moment, at least if the news reports are to be believed, you don’t seem to be. Let me encourage you to savor your victory with the sweet spices of small wins in the budget battles. Why choke by trying to eat the whole apple at once when by taking small bites you can enjoy it for years? (at least four)

The Republicans are caving on their “no tax” pledge like a bunch of cheap tents. Seize this moment Mr. President to achieve the “balanced” approach that you campaigned on.  Raise the taxes on the wealthiest Americans AND cut spending NOW. Your new plan to raise revenue today and cut spending later is not realistic. Ask anyone one that has ever re-financed their debt to lower their payments. Once they can again “afford” to spend the pressure to not spend quickly evaporates.

Mr. President, the “victory” of tax increases today, just for the purpose of increased spending will surely lead to a worse problem tomorrow. 240 years of American history proves that to be true. You will not find a single economist, Democrat or Republican who believes these deficits are sustainable. The sooner you get to work on reducing them, the better it will be for everyone.

Mr. President, you stand not only on the edge of the fiscal cliff, you stand at the edge of American history. You have the opportunity to do something truly great, life changing, and long-lasting for the American people. You stand as well on the blueprint of your legacy. You are one of life’s fortunate few who are allowed to draw it for themselves.

Raising revenue without cutting spending at the same time is like drawing the blueprint of your legacy in pencil. You still won’t know for sure what the future will do to your efforts.

Combining increased revenue with budget cuts, including long-term entitlement fixes is like drawing your legacy in ink. You’re assured of long-term impact and likely, a positive impact at that.

You mentioned during the campaign that you would be President for all Americans. I’d ask you to remember that pledge as you sit down with Speaker Boehner. The people who elected you are not interested in another win for the Democrats, rather they need a win for the American people.

You’re a smart guy, you have smart people working for you. Use ALL the brains around you to solve this issue. Please don’t solve it just to avoid a fiscal cliff, solve it because it’s the right thing to do for the long-term.

Mr. President, you have a 30 day window in which you can shape this nation for decades. The pressure of the fiscal cliff gives you, and Speaker Boehner that opportunity.

Now, to both of you together, if you guys screw this up you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves. I hope, and the American people expect, that as leaders you’ll step up to the challenge and “work” together this get this done.

If you two aren’t talking to each other, then as far as the American people are concerned, you aren’t talking at all. The campaign is over, the American people have spoken. The time for work is now!