By Craig Robinson
Despite my attempt to take a break from politics over the holidays, the news surrounding the fiscal cliff debate is/was inescapable. Text alerts and emails kept me updated on the situation on New Years Eve. The headache that made it difficult to fall asleep after ringing in the New Year kept me awake to witness the compromise plan in U.S. Senate. Lucky me.
Despite my email being deluged with updates from Washington, nothing caught my attention like a line contained in an ABC News report on Tuesday. In speaking about the Senate compromise, Jonathan Karl commented, “finally it seemed like Washington was working.”
The Senate voting on legislation at two in the morning on New Year’s Day is an example of our government working as designed? Continuing to put off spending cuts and entitlement reform is an example of progress in Washington? Hardly. If anything, the New Years Day compromise is a sign that Washington is as leaderless and broken as it has ever been.
What has transpired in Washington since Election Day has done nothing to instill confidence in Americans about their government. The compromise that passed both the Senate and the House does nothing to get America’s fiscal house in order. In fact, the compromise added four trillion to the deficit. Who knew that the way congress would avoid the fiscal cliff would be to go further into debt?
There are components of the senate compromise that are important to conservatives and the country, but by not including substantial spending cuts in the deal, congress has yet to address the root cause of the nation’s debt crisis. Making most of the Bush era tax cuts permanent, fixing the problem with the alternative minimum tax, and addressing the estate tax are all good things, but thanks to Obamacare and other tax cuts that were not included in the compromise, 77 percent of Americans are still going to see their tax bill increase in 2013.
Republicans must now do what they can force President Obama and Democrats to make spending cuts and to make needed reforms to entitlement programs. Good luck with that. During the late night debate on the floor of the House of Representatives, Republicans in favor of the bill called it a good step forward and indicated that spending cuts would need to follow. Democrat leaders were quick to remind the majority party that they only support a balanced approach, meaning that Republican budget cuts are likely to be greeted with more tax increases.
Regardless of all the headlines that will say that the fiscal cliff has been averted, Congress and the President have really just kicked the can down the road again. America still spends too much and has too much debt. Until those issues are addressed, we are still on the edge of the fiscal cliff.
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