The Fiscal Cliff is most certainly coming. As someone that is in the military, and with a wife that also works for the military, the Fiscal Cliff has become a hot topic over dinner. I thought I’d post some of my thoughts on the Fiscal Cliff. I normally don’t use this platform as a soapbox, but I’m going to do so here.
It is not a “cliff”
What a misnomer! We are talking about graduated reduction in budgets over the next ten years. This is not a cliff any any fiscal sense. Perhaps it is a cliff politically.
Who’s fault is this?
Congress and Congress alone. They are responsible for the budget per the constitution. While they do need the President to sign the appropriations law, Congress is responsible for writing it. The Executive Branch does propose a budget, but they do so to make Congress’s job easier and not because the Constitution requires it. I keep hearing that is no incentive for either the republicans or democrats to cut a deal. Why should they need an incentive to do their damn job? Isn’t getting elected to the job incentive enough? Perhaps if we suspended their pay until a balanced budget is passed we’d finally get some movement without the need for incentives.
How did we get here?
Corruption. Congressmen and Congresswomen get re-elected by promising to increase spending in their districts and states, and reducing taxes on both individuals and corporations in their districts and states. Why do they feel compelled to put their short term election gain ahead of any mid or long-term benefits for the Country. Because that is how they re-elected, and I believe that they put re-election ahead of doing what is right. I do believe that they start out in Congress understanding the difference between right and wrong, but after enough time they have forgotten about right and wrong and focus solely on what helps them get re-elected or not.
I define corruption as the inappropriate influence of money within Congress. I have no issue with Free Speech and I understand that companies and industries have a right to have lobbyists. I do have issue with Congressmen and Congresswomen selling their votes to the highest bidder. We have enough former Congressmen in jail for taking bribes to know that this practice exists. I suspect that many politicians actually believe that what they are doing is legal, and given how the laws are written, they are probably right. However, just because it is legal doesn’t mean that it is right. Just look at all of the loopholes in our tax laws and you know what I mean. Just look at all of the pork barrel in all major bills and you know what I mean.
So, we’ve spend years spending a lot more money than we collected. We’ve used a lot of excuses to not raise taxes while at the same time our expenses have skyrocketed. The Fiscal Cliff is a natural outcome of years of the Congress failing to produce balanced budgets.
Impact to the Military
I really don’t know what the impact will be. I suspect in the end, the actual answer is not much. Neither the Republicans or Democrats want to be seen as soft on defense, so they will continue to over fund the military and add pork barrel stuff the military doesn’t even want. I am hopeful that a handful of major programs will be cancelled. These will be poor performing programs that should have been killed a long time ago, but finally the DoD has the political clout to make the cuts. Out of these few that are cut, I’d bet that most will still survive as the lobbyist convince Congress that the world will end without those jobs in their districts.
What will happen?
The most likely future involves Congress and the President cutting a deal to temporary postpone the cuts while not raising taxes, with the false promise that a new super duper committee with come up with the long-term solution. Why do I think this will happen, it is consistent with how the current generation of politicians have practiced their art, it avoids any responsibility and/or accountability, it avoids hurting anyone that is old enough to vote today, and it keeps the money flowing.
What I don’t know is if the most likely outcome is even feasible? Can we kick this can down the road anymore? I didn’t think we could kick it down this far, so perhaps Congress can find a way to kick it down even further. But what if we can’t? What happens to our society if we enter a new Great Depression and not this gentle recession that we are in. The impacts are drastic, but other countries have gone through these, so it isn’t out of the range of possibilities.
I hope for a breakout of sanity withing our Congress and Senate. I hope that they will put America ahead of party politics and that they will understand that we both need to cut spending and raise taxes if we are going to balance the budget. Yes, it will hurt some voters and that will suck. But not taking action now will devastate our children’s future.