Our nation is severely polarized. That’s certainly nothing new. I think we all hoped that after the election Washington would begin taking serious steps toward solving the problems facing the nation or at the very least one side or the other would have enough momentum to assume a leadership role. Unfortunately our national tug of war persists and gridlock continues to be the strategy of choice used by both parties.
Even more than the nation choosing to reelect President Obama, it seems by the choices America made, we collectively see value in maintaining this gridlock method of governing. How else can one explain the total election outcomes where neither side has gained any advantage?
Based on the current discussions, if that’s what we can call them, the parties continue to stake out their positions, and instead of working toward the middle they appear to be going farther away in the opposite direction.
Yes, Republicans have signaled a lukewarm willingness to accept tax increases. As I understand it the total of those increases will pay for eight days of federal government spending. The president has countered with the proposal of even higher tax increases than he ran on and new spending that will offset any of the reductions he is proposing. He has also suggested that in place of coming back to Congress for approval to raise the national debt each time the ceiling is reached he should just be given the authority to raise the ceiling as needed.
The game of chicken continues. The so called fiscal cliff rapidly approaches and we’ve had this nightmare before. Just before the clock ticks midnight a short term bandage deal will be approved, the big problems passed along to the next Congress, that by the way, looks and will likely act much the same as this Congress and nothing, but nothing is really solved. All they will accomplish is a brief extension and then more of the same in a few months when the ceiling is once again reached.
We must cut our spending sooner… like right now….. not later. As painful as that sounds we’ll never dig out of this hole, and our children and grandchildren will be severely hindered for generations if we do not right the error of our ways. Forty two cents of every dollar now goes for the interest on our debt. Failure to reverse this level will, sooner than we think, place our nation in a dire situation.
Shaking our heads in disgust as we watch press conference after press conference of the two sides throwing volleys back and forth, pointing fingers and making accusations isn’t going to solve this problem. They need to get it FIXED and FIXED NOW!!! We passed up the opportunity when the bi-partisan Bowles-Simpson Commission provided the financial plan to correct this issue in 2010. In 2011 both sides, in order to provide cover for their candidates in an election year, agreed to the sequestration which would force tax increases, reductions in jobless benefits and massive cuts upon the nation neither of which would be palatable to either side. At least that was their contention at the time the deal was made.
We were told by our elected officials, going over the cliff would be so devastating it would force them to address these issues, while buying them all cover for the election cycle. Now with the cliff in sight the chorus appears to be growing for, well the cliff doesn’t really look so bad.
As sad as it sounds, as polarized as we are as a nation, doesn’t it sound totally absurd that the only way we can manage our affairs is for each side to put a gun to their opposition’s head and jointly jump off a cliff? Maybe I’m just getting too old, but I was taught to be responsible for my actions, to make good on my promises and to exceed expectations. It seems we can’t lower the bar enough for our government and sadly enough the nightmare dream we pass along to the future generations will become their real life reality.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.