Parents stop children squabbling near a cliff, what about politicians?
Protestors call for an increase of taxes on the wealthy and voice opposition to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Photo: Scott Olson
AMERICA is still recovering from a long, exhausting election campaign filled with childish arguing from both sides … and what are we forced to endure now? More childish arguing from both sides … and the only thing at stake is the economic future of the nation.
The delightful term ''fiscal cliff'' is now a part of our vocabulary, and not even the linguists are happy about it. It is a stupid term, for a ridiculous plan, that should not even have existed, were it not for the inability of our elected leaders to communicate like human beings.
Last year, the US's credit card hit its limit - as it often does nowadays. A new, hardcore Republican-controlled congress didn't want to raise the limit - which would have screwed the economy. They demanded spending cuts instead. Rather than go into a cage and punch it out, the politicians passed a short-term compromise - with an earnest promise to fix it all before the end of this year, after the presidential election campaign. Just to make sure us voters knew they were really serious this time, they included a punishment. If they couldn't agree on ways to cut the deficit by December 31, then a whole bunch of truly terrible budget cuts would be automatically activated. In household language - if the wife and I can't figure out a way to slow down our credit card use, then we'll burn down the house and kill the dog. But don't worry, just because we've never agreed on anything since about 1982, or managed to reduce spending since 2000, we'll figure something out.
So guess what. They can't reach an agreement, the clock is ticking, and the budgetary chainsaws are warming up. And we, the tax-paying public, get to enjoy the spectacle of grown men and women, newly emboldened or theoretically chastised from a recent election, arguing like big horned sheep in a mating ritual. No logic or reason, just a lot of headbanging and baaing.
I have to blame the Republicans. They are refusing to agree to a tax increase on the wealthy, and keep suggesting vague tax deduction loopholes, and cutting entitlements to the old and sick as the solution. Which is exactly the plan Mitt Romney proposed … and was soundly defeated by the public. Apparently what the public wants doesn't matter to Republicans any more - losing an election only means they should try harder to implement their plans.
I believe I speak for all Americans when I say enough is enough. We all know the deficit is too high and our future is at risk. We're even willing to pay more to help fix it. Yet the Republicans insist on fighting for the rich, thereby confirming their reputation as a party completely out of touch with modern life. The fiscal cliff arguments are sad, pathetic, and embarrassing, but most of all, dangerous. Without a governing body able to learn lessons and alter course based on election results - which is kinda what the whole democracy thing is about - we face an uncertain and self-destructive future.
Tim is a writer, TV producer and proud former Canberra resident who has lived in Los Angeles since 1997. Twitter @timschildberger