Congress can't allow nation to reach edge of fiscal cliff

Congress must put the nation's economic health ahead of partisan political ideology.

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The financial stability of America should not be risked in a game of political chicken.

Yet, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have shown they are willing to trigger a recession — or, perhaps, a depression — to further their political ideology.

This happened last year as the federal government reached its debt limit. In the past, Congress has routinely raised the debt ceiling so the nation could pay its debts. But in 2011 the horse trading for spending cuts and new taxes went right up to the deadline causing the stock market to gyrate, the government’s credit rating to fall and America’s Main Street economy to quiver.

Well, here we are again at another deadline. The Treasury Department announced Wednesday the government will hit its $16.4-trillion borrowing limit by the end of the year. In addition, Congress and the president will face automatic tax hikes and large government spending cuts scheduled to kick in Jan. 1.

If Congress doesn’t take action to stop the taxes and cuts from becoming law, it is predicted the nation will go over a fiscal cliff.

It should be clear to all that the annual deficit spending adding to the outrageous national debt cannot be sustained. What’s needed is a long-term plan to reduce spending to a sustainable rate that will steadily reduce the national debt.

We also believe a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution will eventually be needed to force Congress to stick with the plan to reduce debt.

A decade ago we opposed the concept of using the Constitution as a stick to balance the budget. Our thinking was the Constitution should not become a government accounting manual.

But as Congress has allowed spending to get out of control, we now find the idea of a balanced budget amendment necessary. Republicans and Democrats are so attached to their ideology they are blinded and can’t see they are about to run the country off the rails.

A constitutional amendment is likely years away, but the days following the election are the time to start reducing deficit spending.

The first step is for leaders in Congress on both sides of the political aisle to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling long before the countdown to a financial meltdown is constantly broadcast on all the 24-hour cable news networks. Congress must also reach a swift consensus to keep the tax cuts intact until the economy is more stable.

The spending cuts need to be targeted. Congress should delay the cuts for a short time so a long-term spending reduction plan can be developed.

The ends of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan should free up some cash for deficit reduction.

No, getting this runaway spending under control won’t be easy.

But it will be easier to do with a healthy economy than in the midst of a recession (or depression) essentially created by political brinkmanship.

Comments

marketinsider 1 year, 10 months ago

On January 29, 2002, 10 years ago, the U-B editorial board published an editorial titled, "Debt reduction must become national priority." At that time the national debt was about $6 trillion, now it is $16.2 trillion. In the mid Eighties Gramm-Rudman tried to get a balanced budget act passed, but failed and that was when the national debt was about $1.5 trillion. From small town newspapers to powerful politicians, from the mid Eighties to the present, this country has been keenly aware of the debt problem. However, the only thing that the media, the politicians, and Americans have done to address the issue is to continue to kick the can down the road. The can has gotten much bigger and the distance they kick the can gets less and less. As an example, in August of 2011, they raised the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, they are already reaching the new limit. But, don't worry there is a solution. Really. After 40 years of an aging population, becoming a debtor nation instead of a creditor nation, becoming a net importer verses a net exporter, creating fewer and fewer decent paying jobs, where healthcare costs have skyrocketed, where the rich pay an effective tax of 14% and the low income pay no income tax at all, there is a solution. Really. And the solution is what exactly? Of course raise the debt ceiling again. I can't help, but think all this talk about our debt are just skits from Saturday Night Live. I completely disagree with the 99% who believe there is a solution, there is no solution. When growing up in WW in the 50s and 60s I was bombarded with remarks about being fiscally responsible from parents and teachers: cash on the barrel, money doesn't grow on trees, there is no free lunch, don't be a deadbeat, and on and on. These people went through the Great Depression, and warned young boomers about it. Boomers refused to listen. Time will tell, can the vast majority of Americans live a prosperous life by simply voting in politicians who love borrowing and giving away free money? Or is America's prosperity dependent on hard work, individual responsibility, education, saving, and investment? Currently, there is a huge debate going on between the few, who believe that no you cannot borrow your way to prosperity, and the many, who feel you can. In the next few years the debate will finally be over and everyone of us will be able to answer that question with great ease.

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marketinsider 1 year, 10 months ago

I've got to throw this tid-bit of info out there since it does pertain to the debt. Today, President Obama told you that he has created 5.5 million jobs since he became president. And he's proud of it. When Obama took over in January 2009, the debt was $10.7 trillion, it is now $16.2 trillion. I know how everyone hates math, so I'll do the math for you: $5.5 trillion in new debt to create 5.5 million new jobs. That equals one million dollars (a trillion is a million, million) of new debt per new job. And unfortunately, this is not Saturday Night Live, to be proud of creating a new job in America for every one million dollars in new debt is beyond crazy. That poor guy who got the job, even if it is $50k a year, if he took every dollar he made from his new Obama Job, it would take him 20 years to pay the money back. And the sad fact, the guy who got the job doesn't care because he knows someone else has to pay the debt back, not him. For all you disbelievers, this clearly shows how inefficient government is, and the government is Republicans and Democrats. Only the government could get away with creating a job at a cost of one million dollars.

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campbell_rd 1 year, 10 months ago

When everyone mentions Congress, they neglect to mention that the House has been trying to get a budget passed. Harry Reid and the Senate have stonewalled everything! The Senate has failed to produce a budget. How long would any of your households survive without a budget.

So the real problem lies squarely on the Senate! Remember that when you vote, and remember that Harry Reid has failed miserably. Then we must mention Obama, leading by Fiat, circumventing the Constitution and Congress.

The previous remarks seemed to be dead on in my opinion. The article and remarks are quite refreshing! Can we have an East and West Washington?

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oneStarman 1 year, 10 months ago

If the ONLY way we can Reduce the Monstrous Waste of our Military is by going off the cliff - then maybe we need to JUMP. $.59 of EVERY Tax Dollar goes to a Military that was created for a World at War - That is an Outdated Concept. Huge standing Armies and Fleets of Billion Dollar Ships are more of a Liability than an Asset. We still have 50,000 Troops in Europe left over from WWII along with another 50,000 in Asia in Japan and Korea. 20th Century Assets using 19th Century Tactics does not make sense in the New Millennium. We have been Most Effective going after Bad Guys with DRONES instead of Invading or Carpet Bombing countries like Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia. We can watch the World from Space and if needed stop dangers at a distance. I am certainly NO FAN of the PAIN that the Non-Military Cuts will cause - but in my OWN HOUSE I often have to tighten my belt and suck it up to put things in Order - We can do it.

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scottyr 1 year, 10 months ago

Okay, it is time to take aim at our national debt. But, let's be sure of the target. You must remember that the Constitution states clearly that the ability to tax and spend rests exclusively with the House of Representatives.
Oh sure, every agency within the government (including the Executive Branch) submits budget requests but, final approval and oversight for how those funds are allotted and expended rests with 435 elected officials of our government. The problem with debt reduction is therefore complicated by selecting the best of 435 targets. Anyone want to take the first shot?

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namvet60 1 year, 10 months ago

If anyone who that disputes this is uninformed - The President has presented ignorant budgets and could not even get any Dems to vote for it. The House has passed multiple budgets and have sent to the Senate where they have ended up on the Senate floor. Now there's your first shot - rebutt it at best!

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