The View from the Cliff

5 January 2013

So we did not so much jump off the Fiscal Cliff as rapel a quarter of the way down its face, where we now stand, catching our breath and still staring into the abyss. The Capitol is abuzz with questions about who “won”, Obama or the GOP? We The People, of course, lost as usual in the sense that the Big Problems remain unaddressed. But come on, what did you expect? Something like:

Obama: John, Hi this Barry. Listen, I’m been thinking about it. We’ve screwed the American people around long enough, don’t you think? Why don’t we put aside our partisan bickering, trying to make each other look bad and take the blame for this paralysis, and come to some agreement.

J: I am so relieved to hear you say that, Mr. President. What do you suggest? I was thinking that we take the politically courageous decision to mete out the pain equally and fairly to our constituents. In our case, we would offer up even more revenue, which means raising taxes even more, especially on the wealthy who can most afford it.

O: Yeah, and I would ask for enough cuts in entitlements, even the sacred cow of Social Security, so that SS and Medicare become sustainable in the long run. And on the tax increases, while I appreciate that John, let’s make sure we don’t suck so much revenue out of the economy that we kill the economic recovery, or ask so much of the rich that they move to Singapore or Russia like Depardieu.

J: Exactly! And the same goes for cuts to social programs and investments in clean energy, R & D and education. We don’t want to do what the IMF did to Greece and force so much austerity on them that they actually collect less taxes and increase the deficit because they have pushed the economy into a deep recession.

O: With you, my brother. You think you can get the Tea Party on board with that approach?

J: I’ve already talked to them, and, yes, they recognize now that their mindless obsession with smaller government has actually weakened the country in the eyes of global financial markets and put at risk the economic recovery and American competitiveness in the long run.

O: Wow, you really got them to buy into that?

J: No, but since this is Rupert’s fantasy of how it will go down I thought I would lather it on with a trowel.

O: Cool. Oh, and you do realize that after we take these courageous steps the American People will show their gratitude by voting us all out of office during the next election?

J: Natch. But, really, what are we in office for if not to vote our consciences and do what is right for future generations?

O: Versus looking beyond our current status to the day when we all join lobbying firms and get rich selling our access and influence?

J: Golf at Pebble Beach next week?

O: You’re on.

Rupert Scofield


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