After taking a few deep breaths and still not quite believing the overall election results, we’re at least kept amused by politics still. Leaving aside the overblown drama with UN rep Susan Rice, the most interesting debate for me is related to the Fiscal Cliff. So here’s what I’d do in this space and a bit of rationale why.
First, the Debt Ceiling – eliminate it completely. It’s a made up limit and actually adds no value. To those who argue that without a Debt Ceiling, the government will just spend more money, you should take a read of what this actually is. Let’s start with spending. Spending is determined by Congress. As in the people who are complaining about spending so much money. Well then, um, just stop spending it. The debt ceiling simply authorizes the government to PAY the bills for items that you decided to spend on. So limiting the debt ceiling or otherwise threatening not to raise it when required is quite literally deciding to order a pizza and then refusing to pay for it when it’s delivered. So I’m a big fan of simply eliminating the debt ceiling concept all together. Then it’s really simple – if the government purchases something on credit, we pay for it when the bill’s due. If we don’t want to spend so much, stop passing spending bills.
But the real conversation at the moment is around the Fiscal Cliff. First, it’s fantastically rewarding to see GOP members start to publicly break from Norquist’s tax pledge, which has distorted most of the ability to have honest debates. But regardless, I fully support a pragmatic solution, although weird at first glance. Let’s let January 1, 2013 happen without a solution to the fiscal crisis. What happens then? Well, the tax cuts from the Bush era all expire and drastic spending cuts have their mandatory starts. This would allow an immediate debate on which subset of tax cuts to put in place moving forward – in essence, choosing some (but not all) expired tax cuts to be re-instated. The GOP could then have their (disingenuous) political posturing claims that they have only voted to lower taxes and never once to raise them directly or indirectly. Yes, technically that would be a true statement. What it neglects to mention is that they could be having the honest discussion today and vote to keep in place an overwhelming number of the tax cuts already there. But that of course would mean they indirectly voted to allow certain tax cuts to end. Yeah, you’ve caused lots of real people lots of temporary pain and confusion, but at least you can use that talking point in the future that you’ve never voted for anything other than lower taxes.
So, let’s jump off that cliff. It’s stupid and a grand game of positioning and technicalities, but it does move us along and lets both parties pretend they’ve stayed honest to their pledges at least. Just not honest with the American people.