Fiscal Cliff 2013: Why the Government is Failing You With This Fiscal Cliff Circus

Among the cuts set to go into effect, if America were to really go off this "fiscal cliff" of ours, are $1.2 trillion in cuts to military and domestic spending. A decrease in military spending; Oh, the horrors!

America is spending, on average, more on defense than it did during the Cold War – a time of unprecedented fear. We could overlook the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which were paid for not with tax payer dollars but with borrowed money that Millenials will have to pay for, and still the government is spending more on defense than it did. We are in an arms race with ourselves. But hey, in the name of peace!

The constant bickering, exhibited by the unproductive U.S. government, exemplifies a holy praise to one thing: my money! Republicans are unwilling to accept the president's offer that includes $1.6 trillion in tax revenues but does not sufficiently cut those overrated New Deal programs: entitlements. In a letter to the president, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the House Republicans stood firm and said they would only accept $800 billion in new revenues, half of what the president wants (and this is the party of "fiscal responsiblity"!) Nevertheless, Boehner resparked talks of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan – the result of President Obama's executive comission. A bold move by House Republicans favoring a common ground approach; did pigs start flying this morning?

A great deal of discourse has revolved around the national fear of tax hikes, which would be imposed if America were to go off this cliff we created. A particular attack is that taxes will return to "Clinton era levels" (gosh darn those surpluses) which would increase the taxes on the wealthiest earners by 4.6%. Yes, all of this gridlock is rooted in fear of taxes going up 4.6% on individuals making more than $250,000, as the president has urged to extend the Bush tax cuts for earners below this threshold. Representative Boehner's letter reads, regarding taxes, "[we] continue to oppose and will not agree to [them]."

So there's this huge debt America faces. But let's imagine it as debt one of us might face. If you owe a lot of money to someone, chances are one would significantly reduce expenses like eating out, frivilous purchases, and perhaps move into a smaller house or apartment in the name of cutting costs. So far so good? Further, if one really cared  about this issue, he or she might decide to work a a few extra hours per week, try to complete some side jobs, start a lawn mowing service, etc., in the name of having more money to pay off the debt owed. Rationally speaking, there would be a mixture of cost decreases and revenue increases. Did you follow along here? You could do a better job than the guys in the suits!

Speaker Boehner, in his admirable reference to the Simpson-Bowles plan, cites the it as backing for his $800 billion revenue increase, as opposed to Obama's $1.6 trillion. Regretably, the Simpson-Bowles plan calls for almost $1.8 trillion in new revenues, though it does involve a restructuring of the tax code (which currently sits at 70,000 pages). Further, Boehner proposes we cut spending by "closing special interest loopholes and deductions," which personally I think is a great idea. However, what loopholes specifically will you close Mr. Representative? If they are easy to cut, I question as a citizen why they are there to begin with. Aren't my interests special too?

The fiscal cliff is a buzzword that highlights our gridlocked government, which is really nothing new. Most of the arguments by each side at this point are mere posturings that fail to provide real tangible solutions the American people deserve. We are watching two babies fight by throwing flowers back and forth at each other. Except the nation's financial future is at stake. The prolonging of the issue represents the tired digging in of heels by both sides; what is so bad about compromise? This issue needs to be tackled – quickly – not simply because of its magnitude, but because of the variety of other nation–building measures this country needs. Our elected officials have been chosen by the will of the people to protect liberty and promote universal freedom. These people have a JOB to do: why aren't they doing it?

This government's dillema not only comes as nothing new, but serves as an example of lawmakers' blatant disregard for the future of America. Democrats and Republicans are both guilty. While they waste time "deliberating," or whatever the newest rhetoric is, they fail to address prominent issues such as the ongoing climate crisis, the future of energy, poverty in rural and urban areas, America's average-at-best K-12 educational system, and equal opportunity for all.

 

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Grant Ferowich

Grant studies at Wake Forest, where he majors in philosophy and economics.

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