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Jan 2, 201307:39 AMVan Lines

with Joe Vanden Plas

Fiscal cliff notes: Whatever we’re paying these guys …

(page 2 of 2)

A pox on Republicans: In fairness, the GOP had a weak hand to play here, so it was probably too much to expect the fiscal cliff deal to address our exploding entitlement spending or make significant progress on deficit reduction. To no great surprise, it did neither. The momentum for spending restraint probably will gather steam when it comes time for Congress to raise the debt ceiling, sometime in the late February, early March time frame. Given the sycophantic nature of the Washington press corps, Republicans will be portrayed as villains for forcing the President to actually pursue a balanced approach that includes spending discipline, but this nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path, and excessive spending is the prime culprit.

In case anyone still cares, we’re headed toward a fifth consecutive annual deficit of more than $1 trillion. On our current path, our national debt, now at $16.4 trillion and counting, will reach the $20 trillion mark before inauguration day 2017, assuming we avoid a recession that could bring it about sooner. The longer we wait to get our spending under control, the more austere and painful the solutions will become. The same people who think we can tax our way out of this problem are the same people who will get whacked the hardest by forced austerity.

A pox on both houses: Since the fiscal cliff negotiations were conducted over the holiday season, American retailers took it on the chin. Most forecasts pointed to 3% to 4% growth in holiday sales over a solid 2011 season, even with the fiscal cliff baked in, but the early returns suggest that all the talk and anxiety about going over the cliff spooked consumers to the point that holiday retail sales increased less than 1%. Perhaps subsequent reporting will reveal better holiday results, but there is no question the knuckleheads in Washington undermined holiday cha-ching.

If anything good comes out of this, Congress and the White House will avoid a repeat of this unnecessary, and economically damaging, year-end drama. 

The final insult

Lost amid this avalanche of sheer stupidity, President Obama signed an executive order increasing the pay of Congress. This is the same Congress that includes a U.S. Senate that hasn’t passed an annual budget in three years, while the country’s finances are being destroyed. It's the same Senate led by a cull named Harry Reid, who was so useless in negotiating a fiscal cliff deal that Republican Mitch McConnel had to call on Vice President Biden to get a deal done.

Need I say more about the feckless nature of American leadership?

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Jan 8, 2013 01:07 pm
 Posted by  Peggy L.

I was in London over New Year's. I received comments that ranged from, ". . .all you did was postpone the fall from the cliff. . ." to ". . .your Congress is as disfunctional as ours in allocating subsidies. . ." I've heard that as the US economy goes, so goes Europe, and the Europe I've heard from is not pleased.

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