It has been the subject of untold hours of discussion in the media, and one business channel even had a countdown clock on the screen, like the countdown clock for a space shuttle launch.
This is just the latest in a series of politically created crises that show how inept our political parties are at compromising to actually govern the country. I know the word “inept” is a strong word for me to use when describing our elected officials, but let me explain my point of view.
I first came to this conclusion about 18 months ago when Congress appointed 12 members, divided equally between each party and between the House and Senate, to address the debt ceiling crisis. This was called the super committee, which was given the power to negotiate a compromise to avoid an earlier fiscal cliff brought on by the debt ceiling limit being reached. This would have caused the U.S. to exhaust its authority to borrow funds to keep the country running and therefore go into default.
When this super committee was announced I was full of optimism that finally, common sense would prevail and behind closed doors a compromise could be worked out. To me a compromise is where neither side gets 100 percent of what they want, but can live with the negotiated outcome. They were given a deadline of six months and a few weeks before the deadline they made a joint statement where they did agree on one thing. They agreed that they would not be able to come to a bipartisan agreement before the committee’s deadline.
In hindsight the debt ceiling fiscal cliff should have been a non-event. It could easily be fixed permanently by one simple measure. That measure would automatically authorize the increase of the national debt ceiling by an amount equal to the amount of the budget deficit that was passed by both houses of Congress.
Simple, huh? Too simple, as that would remove a hammer that one political party can hold over the head of the other.
Since then we have had a state of perpetual gridlock where things are highly partisan. Two phrases keep on popping into my mind that describes this pattern and they are a “hot potato” and “kicking a tin can down the road.”
We are truly facing a fiscal cliff and I do not mean the current one.
At some point in the future the country will have to make some really hard and difficult decisions.
Our current path of a trillion plus dollars per year deficit is unsustainable and will have to be addressed. This can only be fixed by a compromise that will cause some pain on both sides. Taxes will have to be higher, whether it be corporate, personal, estate or other taxes, and corresponding cuts will have to be made to the military, health care, Social Security or other discretionary spending.
For every year we manage to muddle along without any real fix to the systemic problems, the height of the future fiscal cliffs will only be getting higher and higher and the consequences more painful when we do face them.
So while the full effects of this sequestration will not be felt for quite some time and possibly only indirectly here on the peninsula, I believe we should view this as a good thing. It might actually force the hand of the politicians to make those painful decisions that might be for the long-term good of the country, but lose them a few votes at the next election. But wait — didn’t we elect them to represent our best interests in the first place? Gosh, doesn’t that concept seem quaint today?
My message to our elected officials (of both parties) in Washington, D.C., is to make those tough decisions: The country can stand a little pain now if it is for the long-term gain. The time for the status quo of gridlock and inertia is over, the sequestration is an opportunity to lead and govern.
Wow, that was a deep and heavy subject for me to cover but let’s look on the bright side of the equation. I have 100-percent confidence in the resiliency of the U.S. population and workforce to face any adversity and come through it even stronger than before.
Next month will mark the start of the six-month countdown for the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. More details are being released every day and I will have an update for you at that time.
Medicare Matters: Happy New Year!
Thu, Jan 16, 2014
Three years to three weeks
Wed, Dec 4, 2013
Double the fun
Fri, Nov 8, 2013
Good luck and happy searching
Thu, Oct 10, 2013
The ACA as a soap opera
Tue, Sep 10, 2013
ACA eligibility verification changes
Thu, Aug 8, 2013
Affordable Care Act updates
Wed, Jul 10, 2013
An update on insurance exchange
Tue, Jun 4, 2013
Looking at long-term care
Wed, May 1, 2013
Is now the time?
Wed, Apr 10, 2013
Wed, Mar 6, 2013
Are we there yet?
Wed, Jan 2, 2013
Wed, Dec 5, 2012
Full steam ahead to 2014
Tue, Nov 13, 2012
Medicare: Tips for Part D savings
Wed, Oct 24, 2012
Medicare Plans for 2013
Mon, Oct 8, 2012
Medicaid expansion, explained
Tue, Oct 2, 2012
The Medicare voucher system
Thu, Sep 13, 2012
New rules for 401K plans
Wed, Aug 1, 2012