As the fiscal cliff rapidly approaches the two sides of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, are sniping at each other, presenting untenable plans and decrying each others' cognitive dissonance when the plans are respectively discarded.
Republicans admit some revenue generation would be a good thing. Letting a few tax deductions go away might be a good way to do that, they concede. Good.
Democrats are aware that a lot of programs are pretty expensive. Running a couple of wars overseas hasn't improved things, either. Time to wrap those up. Good.
But Republicans insist that the wealthiest individuals already might pay as much in a single year as other taxpayers pay in their entire lives and shouldn't face any tax increase (or withdrawal of tax relief, however you want to phrase it it amounts to the same thing). And while we might be ramping down activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's saber-rattling going on over whether or not Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium is for peaceful purposes.
I say step out of Iran. If they do manage to build a bomb, I reckon there's about a 10% chance they'll just blow themselves up, and maybe a 5% chance they'll use it on Israel. If that happens, Israel's flexible, highly capable military will simply wipe Iran out. That ought to set their nuclear weapons program back a few years longer than anything we might do. Even if they do manage to build one, I don't think Iran has anything capable of delivering it to US soil. And most of our foreign friends in the region have pretty capable anti-missile defenses, so maybe we should let that be a neighborhood problem, and tend to problems in our own backyard.
There's only about four and a half weeks left in the calendar year, and the deadline for this fiscal cliff thing is January 1. And what are our nation's leaders doing? Throwing ridiculous plans back and forth at each other, and haranguing each other when the ridiculous plans are rejected for being unreasonable.
Meanwhile, the kitchen is going up in flames. When the kitchen is on fire is not the time to begin the debate over dry-chemical vs. Halon fire extinguishers. Just grab one and start spraying. Worry about the pros and cons later.
But this is where we are: we knew this fiscal cliff thing was coming, we've known it for years. Some of the triggers that will set the fiscal cliff in motion are over ten years old - from the Bush era. Republicans who whine and gripe about the economy under Obama should be well aware that the economy was going on long before Obama, and Democrats who similarly gripe about how the economy fared under Clinton - wait, it did great under Clinton. Never mind!
Now I see on the news that the Obama administration is perfectly willing to go over the fiscal cliff. I say, go for it. The budget is crazily out of balance and a Republican-heavy Congress isn't likely to make things easy for anything the White House has to offer.
I say, when things get harrowing sometimes it's easiest to just lay back and be harrowed.
Historically, unemployment rates under Democratic presidents tend to be significantly better than they are under Republican ones -an average of 4.3% vs 6.1%. I think we're probably going to come out of this okay, but it's going to hurt for a while. Don't fear the fiscal cliff - it might be difficult, but we'll be better off at the end of it.
It's just embarrassing to me as an American that we're handling things the way we are. None of this is a surprise, but now that it's here everybody is acting as if it were an emergency. Lax behavior has set the sofas on fire, now let's put the damned fire OUT and get back to a normal life.