New Castle News


December 27, 2012

Our Opinion: Diving off cliff, Washington appears to be incapable of resolving its fiscal mess

NEW CASTLE — America is about to go over its fiscal cliff.

Officials in Washington continue to say they want an agreement on taxes and spending that will help to narrow the nation’s deficit gap without drastic economic consequences.

But the reality at this point is that no meaningful long-term agreement is possible by the end of the year.

So instead, talk has turned to what we worried would happen — some sort of short-term, stopgap fix that accomplishes nothing, other than assuring more fiscal cliff drama a few months down the road.

This is irresponsible. We are tired of the posturing and angling by Democrats and Republicans. And as we said earlier, we would prefer to see the nation go over its fiscal cliff to simply dragging out this nonsense even more.

Yes, going over the cliff comes with all sorts of unpleasantness, ranging from higher taxes all around to dubious budget cuts in key areas. But this hardship was the agreement Democrats and Republicans created as a means of forcing them to deal responsibly with the deficit.

The fact the threat of the fiscal cliff hasn’t forced a compromise speaks volumes about the quality of leadership in Washington.

More to the point: It sends a message to the American people that they need to become more involved in demanding an end to Washington’s squabbling. Going over the cliff will focus the public’s attention on the problem at hand.

Everyone knows some tough decisions need to be made to address the federal government’s fiscal ills. These won’t be resolved with time or wishful thinking. It is in these circumstances that hard bargaining and compromise become essential tools in achieving progress.

No one should lose sight of the fact that Washington’s intransigence on fiscal matters produces considerable economic uncertainty across the nation. Without a clear picture of taxation and spending policies, many companies are reluctant to engage in any sort of risk that’s often the prelude to growth.

Now there are concerns that anemic economic recovery in the nation will be snuffed out completely by Washington’s antics. But maybe that’s what it will take to set the stage for a long-term resolution to federal gridlock.

Washington desperately needs to repair itself. And if it doesn’t start to do so immediately, voters must get serious about making their own changes in the nation’s capital.

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