Why Congress Gets a Lump of Coal This Christmas

No matter who says what on Fox News or MSNBC, the fiscal cliff is a bi-partisan problem, created by two parties that have been unwilling to adopt moderate policies. The Republicans under President Bush cut taxes by far too much, creating a revenue gap. The Democrats under President Obama have spent large amounts of money to get comparatively small economic results, creating a spending gap. Both, when used well, can be of great assistance to the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, the Bush tax cuts and the Obama spending record have been examples of how un-moderate policies can steer the country far off course. And now, Republicans and Democrats are approaching this issue as if they have months to figure things out. The truth is, they don’t. There are less than thirty days to pass a bill, and both camps have rejected each other’s proposals, sending Republicans back into the Fox News studio and the President back onto the campaign trail. It appears as if the election season of 2012 may in fact last until the 2014 mid-terms, something that the public will not tolerate. For whatever reason, the people of America voted in a way that forces the parties to work together. And for obvious reasons, it isn’t working. According to the latest Quinnipiac polls (http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-centers/polling-institute/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=1821), support for Democrats and Republicans in Congress are at 37% and 23%, respectively, while the President’s approval rating is at 53%, his highest since bin Laden’s death. However, GOP is at a noticeable disadvantage. Less than half of Republicans (47%, actually) support the congressional Republicans, while 70% of Democrats support their counterparts in Congress. So, the GOP is slowly losing the support of its base over the fiscal cliff issue, while the Democrats can only get stronger. More Americans trust Obama and the Democrats to handle the fiscal cliff crisis than congressional Republicans. Also shocking is the relative optimism among Democrats, compared to the relative pessimism among Republicans. According to the same Quinnipiac polls, most Democrats believe that a deal can be reached; most Republicans don’t.

Even though Democrats may have the upper ground in terms of PR, this crisis is still the responsibility of both parties. The President and the Speaker simply have to work together-or else the nation will suffer. My advice to members of Congress, 23 days and counting to an unprecedented fiscal disaster, is this: forget Grover Norquist, forget Warren Buffett, and remember the people who elected you in the first place.


5 thoughts on “Why Congress Gets a Lump of Coal This Christmas”

  1. Chris: You “hit the nail right on the head”!!! It would be a great idea to get your blog into their “heads” and they might see the need to work together and get something done, rather than just giving us the same old arguments for their entrenchment in past arguments. Keep trying to get your ideas out to the people.

  2. I for one would love to go over the fiscal cliff. Then we can see really how bad the Dems are at bickering over their pet projects. Of course, the Repbs have theirs as well. But let’s have a balanced approach, not just a get in there and do it. We have to cut spending and we have to raise monies. Congress should act responsibly.

  3. Great thoughts Chris. The question is can working together ever work? In a multiparty system that isn’t a dictatorship, can people in Washington set aside their political stance and do what is best for the greater good of humanity, or will they always try and push for their partisan stances and thus have an ulterior motive for good.

  4. Roland: Your question has defined the American system of government since it has been around. And the results are certainly mixed. Do you think that, overall, the American “experiment” has been successful?
    Jessica: If a deal is not reached, then taxes will go up for millions of Americans, draconian spending cuts will take effect, and the stage will be set for the U.S. to default on its loans in February/March. Bad stuff. There is no best-case scenario if a deal isn’t reached.
    Mdavis: While your deficit-reduction formula is certainly one I agree with, going over the fiscal cliff can hurt taxpayers, which might effectively destroy any economic gains we’ve made in the past four years.

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