Teetering On The Edge Of The Fiscal Cliff

We’ve all heard about the “fiscal cliff” that is heading our way in January 2013.  If President Obama and Congress don’t act before then, a combination of tax increases and government spending cuts will automatically take effect.

The Tax Policy Center has now attempted to quantify the impact of the “fiscal cliff” on American taxpayers.  It finds that almost 90 percent of households would experience a tax increase.  The top 20 percent of taxpayers will bear 60 percent of the tax increases, but the tax increases will have an impact across the economic spectrum.  A middle-income family earning between $40,000 and $64,000 would pay an additional $2,000 a year, and families making between $110,000 and $140,000 a year would see a $6,000 tax increase.  In all, the government is forecast to reap an additional $500 billion in tax revenues.  Some people believe that the economy is already slowing to a zombie state because of fears of the new, bigger tax bite that will take effect in January.  Other economists fear that the combination of half a trillion dollars in tax increases and $109 billion in automatic government spending cuts that were implemented because the “debt supercommittee” couldn’t reach agreement on a deficit reduction will hurl the struggling economy into a full-fledged recession.

As I noted earlier, of course, this all will happen only if President Obama and Congress don’t act.  The President has been spending virtually every waking hour campaigning for re-election, and Congress has been inert for months.  So what do we have to worry about?

Giving Thanks For Our Political Leaders

This Thanksgiving week, I’d like to give special thanks for our political leaders.  At this time of national challenge, we are blessed with a political class whose spirit of self-sacrifice, personal courage, and intestinal fortitude compare favorably to those of our Pilgrim Fathers and the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

I’m thankful for politicians who haven’t let the need to reassure nervous financial markets or the selfish concerns of Americans whose retirement savings accounts will be depleted by wild stock market plunges distract them from their crucial campaigning and fundraising.

I’m thankful for the President and Members of Congress who wisely decided to discard old-fashioned political processes and delegate all deficit reduction efforts to a “supercommittee.”

I’m thankful for the members of the “supercommittee” who rolled up their sleeves and had a few meetings and hearings before calling it quits.

I’m thankful for the far-sighted Democrats and Republicans who had the courage to accept a decrease in our national credit rating in order to stand up to the unreasonable expectations of the ratings agencies.

I’m thankful for the Members of Congress whose intuitive understanding of economics is so great that they have been able to increase their personal fortunes while serving the public good.

I’m thankful for a bold President who recognizes that the most crucial question to be answered when addressing any important issue is how to ensure that others will be held strictly accountable for the ultimate failure.

I’m thankful for those perceptive Democrats and Republicans who have finally come to realize that most Americans want to shrug off the weighty mantle of global leadership and be more like Greece.

Finally, I’m thankful for those enlightened political leaders who recognize that every single federal program, every single federal job, and every single federal tax exemption, deduction, and loophole is absolutely essential to the future of our Republic and cannot possibly be eliminated or changed in any way.

With leaders such as these, is there any doubt that our great nation can squarely meet and overcome whatever challenges might confront us?  The turkey is going to taste especially good this year.