Notice that lingering scent of burning tires? We also smelled it last year when disgraced legislators fled for summer break after their fiasco over raising the debt ceiling. In August 2011 Damaged Economy Left Behind, Congress Flees the Scene suggested that they skip the trip to their summer homes, stick around Washington, and fix the mess they created. If the warnings about the fiscal cliff are to be believed, legislators should have stayed on Capitol Hill this August, too.
Is the fiscal cliff a government scam?
Do we even need to ask? There is no fiscal cliff. It is a hoax perpetrated by Congress. Legislators passed their Budget Control Act last year replete with the usual fuzzy math. They agreed on sequestration as their last-ditch solution to deficit reduction and they can and will agree to end it, just like they can agree to extend the current tax rates without singling out a social class to punish. The fiscal cliff is partisan political theater and a government scam to excuse congressional inaction, nothing more.
Harry Reid added some excitement to the crisis by drawing a partisan line in the sand:
The nation is one vote away from avoiding the fiscal cliff for middle class families.
Every member of the House of Representatives should have the opportunity to show where they stand: with millionaires or with the middle class.¹
Americans should be up in arms over Congress using its failure to deal with very real economic problems to threaten taxpayers with a catastrophe created on Capitol Hill.
The scam started with the debt ceiling
We thought we had had enough last summer with the debt ceiling charade and the ensuing credit downgrade. The real farce was yet to come. Congress dreamed up a fantasy to appease the public and convince themselves that they were taking historic, decisive action.
The Budget Control Act was more partisan drama
Looking back, the Budget Control Act’s Joint “Super” Committee seemed like something out of a summer disaster movie: a hand picked group, charged with an impossible mission while the sequestration time bomb slowly counted down the minutes to January 2013. Once again, Reid set the tone:
As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee. I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship, and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people.²
The big difference is that heroes usually win in the movies. The super committee was doomed from the start. Did everyone in Washington forget what happened with the Fiscal Commission, or the reactions of Democratic legislators like Nancy Pelosi, who declared the commission’s recommendations for deficit reduction “unacceptable”?
The fiscal cliff is a fabrication
From debt ceiling to Budget Control Act to super committee to sequestration to Congress’s fiscal cliff, this has been a long, pointless journey indeed.
Like most scams this one pays off big for the perpetrators, those most guilty for fueling our deficit. Democrats in Congress get an excuse to tax the rich. The president can simultaneously argue for deficit reduction, raising taxes on higher earners, and spending more money on everything from education to health care to infrastructure. Republicans get to take the responsible position and argue for spending cuts, something for which they will inevitably be damned. GOP leaders need to remind everyone that Democrats joined them in buying into the sequestration scheme, though it was no big stretch to figure out that if Congress was ever faced with the responsibility for their decision, sequestration would be jettisoned to the flash of cameras and the announcement of yet another groundbreaking compromise.
There is one thing about the fiscal cliff analogy that holds a grain of truth. If we vote these idiots back into office so they can continue their mindless attempts to govern, then taxpayers are the ones who deserve to take a dive. Just because the fiscal cliff is a government scam does not mean it won’t hurt us if Washington continues its refusal to act outside of the constraints of rabid partisanship.